Framing is a photography rule and technique that often relies on leading lines to work. As I mentioned in the February 6 blog, leading lines are lines used within an image to draw the viewer’s eye to a certain point (known as a focal point). In the case of framing, however, leading lines cannot be the subject of the photo. Instead they are used to surround your photo’s subject so that the subject stands out in a unique way.
Let’s Get Started
Most successful examples of framing have objects surrounding the photo’s subject on all sides; the subject is also often centered in the middle of the overall image. It is not required to have the elements of the frame make a square. In fact, frames can be shaped as any number of polygons including squares, triangles, circles, trapezoids, rhombuses, odd shapes, etc. as long as the frame elements properly surround the subject. While a little clipping is acceptable, frame elements should not block the central subject from view in any big way. Otherwise the photograph’s viewer may get confused about which object is meant to be the photo’s subject. The subject should also be the most in-focus part of the photo.
Sometimes you can simply surround the subject on just two sides; I refer to this technique as “flanking.” Unlike framing, the “flanking” technique usually does work best with fairly straight framing edges. As with framing though, flanking requires the subject to be in full focus and often differently colored than the objects surrounding it.
Many objects can be used as framing or flanking sides: roads, fencing, curtains, architecture, tree branches, wire, shadows, etc. The trick is to experiment until you find what works best.
Let’s Break It Down
For examples of framing, see the following links:
One of the best examples of framing in my repertoire, “Colorful Perspective” gets its power and dynamism because my dark clothed male subject is walking just below the center of the hot air balloon’s circular envelope. The fabric’s folds and seems frame the balloon pilot perfectly.
“Beauty Beyond the Bars”
“Beauty Beyond the Bars” uses a very traditional framing element of a jail cell window frame to draw attention to the photo’s lovely female subject.
“Through the Hoops”
The lit hoops at the top of a carnival ride frame the decorative wheel of a different ride.
“Ambiance” is actually a double-framed piece. The white curtains frame the pink lamp which frames the cross of light.
For examples of flanking, see the following links:
“Floating Between Paths”
At first glance, this photo might look like an example of leading lines, but the roadway lines are actually flanking the hot air balloon in their midst rather than leading the eye to it.
“A Cleft with a View”
“A Cleft with a View” is a bit of a flanking rule-breaker because the blue rocks are not the only objects to flank the pale stalagmite formation behind them. The deep shadows above and below also flank the stalagmite and so this photo’s subject is highlighted from double flanking.
Shoot at least 10 images with either framing or flanking. Good items to try shooting: a person’s face as seen through a the hole in a box or tube, a colorful object surrounded by foliage, or an animal as seen through the interlaced branches of trees or shrubs a tree flanked by hills, or one piece of architecture surrounded by others. Have some fun with this one and be sure to keep your camera’s focus centered on the subject, not the framing elements.
Until we meet again, I wish all of you brilliant flashes of perspective!
[ O*] Alycia