How to Frame in Photography (Using Scenic Elements)

Framing Photography Definition

Image captured by Kristin Michelle Photostories and edited with Aphrodite from Pretty Film Pastels.

Framing in Photography for Better Composition

As photographers, we tend to primarily focus on the subject of our image.  That makes perfect sense, right?

It’s so easy to discount the other elements in the scene because our attention is on the person, wildlife, flower, etc.  We utilize rules of composition, shallow depth of field and sometimes a minimal backdrop, all in order to ensure that nothing distracts from the main subject.

But what if, instead of distracting from the subject in the image, the natural scenic elements had a purpose and could actually ENHANCE the focus of the subject?

That is what scenic framing is all about!

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What is Framing in Photography?

“Framing” in photography is often used quite broadly.  Photographers will say things like, “Frame your shot,” when what they actually mean is, “Compose your shot.”

In street photography, you might hear, “Click the shutter when the subject enters the frame,” as an instruction to keep the shot composed and be prepared for the decisive moment when a person walks into the scene.

Today, however, I am going to focus on scenic framing which falls in the composition category.  When I refer to scenic framing, what I mean is using elements from your surroundings (or scene) to LITERALLY FRAME YOUR SUBJECT.  You can use foreground, background and/or elements that are on the same focal plane as your subject to frame them.

Framing Elements

Benefits of Framing Your Subject

Some of the benefits of framing include:

1. Drawing the viewer's eye towards your main focal point.

2. Adding a sense of depth to your image by using foreground and/or background framing to add an additional dimension.

3. Adding context or story to your photo using framing elements that add the story you wish to tell.

When used properly, you can ceate some truly beautiful and egaging photos.  You may even start framing your images this way without even thinking about it because it’s that visually appealing!

What is Framing in Photography

How to Frame an Image?

There are so many ways to naturally frame you subject.  More ways than I can possibly ever list.  And there certainly is no limit to the creativity you can employ as you practice this framing technique.

To get your creative juices flowing, here are 4 readily available, real world framing ideas:

1. Doorways & Windows

Doorways and windows are everywhere (houses, cars, businesses, etc.) and require no special equipment, props or pre-planning to take advantage of.  Simply ensure that your subject is WITHIN the door or window frame and click away!

It's always interesting to play around with distance and scale (placing your subject further or closer to the camera while still keeping them WITHIN the door or window frame) to vary the effect.

Doorways and windows are a great place to start practicing your photography framing because it doesn’t get any more simple than this!

What does framing mean in photography

Framing photo

2. Nature

I love using elements in nature like foliage, trees, branches or even flower blossoms to frame my subject.  Not only are these elements relatively easy to find, they can give an image a natural, bohemian vibe and add a lovely pop of color as well.

Composition frame photography

Framing the subject

3. Fabric

Curtains and clothing are a beautiful, soft way to frame your subject.  It’s also easy to experiment with framing this way by purchasing some inexpensive fabric from your local craft store and hanging it wherever you wish.

Try draping the fabric from branches or over the back of a couple of chairs to frame your subject sitting in between.  Or wrap it around your subject’s head with only their face exposed.

Framing photography

How to use framing in photography

4. Playground Equipment

If you photograph children or families, this is a great way to frame little ones and one of my personal favorites!

The children will be having so much fun, they often won’t even notice you taking photos.  This will allow you to capture some great candid expressions that really document their personality.

Most playgrounds are full of all sorts of interesting shapes and colors and if you find a good vantage point and practice patience, it’s only a matter of time before you get the shot you’re after.

Playground framing

Camera Composition Framing

Using scenic elements to frame your subject is an exercise in observation because everything you need to frame your images is already there.  You just have to be more aware of your surroundings, then look around and find them.

Play around with different shapes, textures, colors, patterns, and even perspectives.  You will get a completely different look every time!

Do you have any questions or comments about how to use Framing in Photography?  Leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you!  And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (We really appreciate it)!

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