Framing in photography helps you to produce images that attract the viewer’s eye to the subject. It is an integral part of taking a quality shot, and it is one of the easiest techniques you can use to produce quality images. 

What is Framing in Photography?

You can frame in photography by using natural elements, architecture, or props. You can also use a combination of elements to create a composition that gives your desired effect. 

Aids with Composition

Framing in photography aids with the composition of the photograph by drawing attention to the desired point. Through framing, you can alter the formation of a shot, and there are multiple ways you can use the composition of the photographs to frame instead of using outside props.

What is Composition in Photography?

The composition includes all of the elements that are in a particular shot. The composition of a photograph alters the perception by drawing the viewer’s eye to a certain point or the image as a whole. 

woman holding window frame

The Importance of Framing

Framing is essential in photography because it helps you to create the desired response when a viewer looks at the image. It can also help you to convey a specific message through the photo. 

Why Use Framing?

There are many reasons to use photo frames when photographing a subject. After all, most photos are put into frames to feature the photograph. If frames were not necessary, people would not frame photographs. Without the frame, the picture is just another two-dimensional object. It would not draw attention to the subject.

1. Drawing Your Viewer’s Eye to the Subject

Depending on where you place the frame or how you frame the point of interest, you can direct the viewer’s eye to the subject. Drawing the viewer to the desired point in your image is one of the most important aspects of photography.

2. Tell a Story

When you are taking images, you want your viewer to perceive the photo in the manner in which you intend. In other words, you want to give them context into the photo. Perhaps you have heard the term, “a picture is worth 1,000 words.” However, that is only true if the viewer receives the intended message. Through framing, you are better able to provide the correct context in the photo.

3. Add Layers For More Depth

You can use frames to create more depth in an image. For example, if you place a subject behind an architectural element, you can put space between them and the element, which creates some depth. You can also use multiple layers to create even more depth. 

Various Elements of Compositional Framing Photography

The elements you use to develop compositional framing are just as important as the frame itself. If you use an inappropriate frame, your photo will not evoke the same emotion. So, it is important to be mindful when you use framing around your subject. 

man lighting cigarette while woman holds frame to shoot through for photo

Using Shapes That Frame and Enclose Your Subject

Shapes and other elements can be used to frame around your subject and draw attention to a focal point. However, you have to be careful that the object does not distract from the subject. 

Using Doors and Windows as Architectural Elements

Architectural elements are one of the most natural ways to frame a subject. You can use one or more architectural elements without making the frame the focal point of the image. Here are a few architectural elements you can use when framing: 

  • Columns 
  • Windows
  • Arches 
  • Doors
  • Doorways
  • Hallways
  • Spaces between two buildings

Use Unique Environmental Elements for Framing Photography

Environmental elements are not as simple to use as other fixed objects. However, you can use them to frame a shot. For example, you can use the interior of a plane or vehicle. You can also use any other element in the foreground. When you are shooting photography, it is best practice to look around and consider anything in the area you can use to frame around your subject. 

Practice with Lights and Shadows for Framing

You can frame photography using elements of light and shadow. These images can be spectacular. You need to practice taking these photos because the light and shadows can often appear different on your camera than they do to the naked eye. You can use framing through light and shadows by: 

Utilize Elements in Nature

You can also use nature. Natural elements also give your photo a genuine feel. Yet, they can often take the eye away from the subject, so you have to be mindful when you use natural elements. Some of the best natural framing elements are: 

  • Waterfalls
  • Flowers
  • Trees
  • Gardens
  • Caves
  • Rocks
  • Clouds 
man sitting on dock with mountains in the background

Be Purposeful with Props

Props can be a great way to frame your subject, but these photos have a less genuine feel. If you want to create natural-looking images, try using mirrors or other elements that you produce a reflection. 

How to Frame a Shot with Positions and Angles

Framing a shot is easier than you might think. You just need to place your subject in the center then take the shot. You can also play with the angle that you capture the subject. Changing your position and angle will alter the feel and composition of the image. 

Framing Techniques: Beyond the Basics

There are some advanced techniques you can use to frame photography. You will want to practice these techniques. Expect to take several photos before you achieve a desirable outcome. 

Adding Depth with Multiple Frames

Using multiple frames in your photography is a great way to increase depth. An excellent example of this is layering architecture and natural elements, while you focus your subject in the center. 

Using Frames That Move

Moving frames are one of the most difficult framing techniques to utilize. You can take these photos by sharpening the focus on the model and blurring the background. Or, if there is a moving background behind the model, like cars in the background, you can use them to frame the image. A moving background gives a sense of speed while creating the appearance that the subject is still or peaceful. 

Easy Tips for Framing Photography Shots

When learning how to frame subjects, it is beneficial to focus on some straightforward tips you can follow. Here are a few tips to help you take incredible framing photography shots. 

1. Showcase Your Subject with Doors and Windows

If you are indoors, use the elements available to you like windows, doors, and mirrors to frame your subject. These features found in buildings are great for framing.

2. Highlight the Details of Your Subject by Shooting Through an Object

You can shoot through an object to bring out specific details. For example, if you are on a cruise ship, and you want to photograph a dolphin taking the image through a porthole will give the image context while directing the viewer’s eye to the dolphin.

3. Create Minimalism by Draping Your Subject with Fabric

Covering your subject in a simple fabric like unbleached muslin cloth article, a light-colored article of clothing, or a white sheet to frame the subject’s face while achieving a minimalistic effect. Using a simple cloth is a great way to frame an object naturally and draw the viewer’s eye to the focal point.

4. Focus on Your Subject with Natural Symmetry

You can use the symmetry of objects to frame and emphasis your model. To do this, place your model in the center of two similar objects to accomplish the desired frame.

5. Minimize Negative Space with Reflective Materials

Filling negative space with reflections can help you to frame your subject. To do this, you can place a mirror or reflective material behind the subject before capturing the image.

More Ideas for Photography Framing

Having some ideas for framing can help you to take the framing photography composition shot. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Try a few with each subject. Then, choose the one that produces the best overall composition. 

  • Photograph your subject between two trees
  • Use archways and columns as multiple frames
  • Mix natural and architectural elements to frame photography composition
  • Use natural elements like flowers or plants
  • Use an empty frame as a framing prop
  • Take an image through a shape or window
  • Alter the lighting to take photos framed by light or shadows
  • Use foreground elements to frame your subject
  • Add frames to photos after production 
  • Use pros in the background and foreground to frame your subject
  • Use a prop to frame a specific article in the image
person jumping with distorted black and white background

A Final Word on Framing in Photography

When you start framing photographs, you need to try different methods. It is also essential to remember that no one frame will support every composition. Each picture is different, so there is no one size fits all frame. 

While framing can help the overall composition of your image and help you to draw the eye to the focal point, using the wrong type of frame can change the feel of the photography. So, it is crucial to pick a frame that adds to the context without distracting from the subject.

It is also essential to frame the correct elements in the composition. If you frame one subject in the image, it draws attention to that subject. For example, in a gender reveal photo, you might use a frame prop to frame the pregnant mother’s stomach. The act of framing the unborn baby gives proper context to the image.

You can also change the composition of the photo by framing the entire family. When you frame the mother and father, you make the photo more about the family as a whole, and you can feature the love they have for the baby.
As you can see, changing the frame will have a significant impact on the context of the photo. So, practice in different ways. Also, try taking each photo with several different frames so you can choose the best one.