This week we are going to focus on the opposite of our task from last week; rather than highlighting the subject by giving it breathing room, we are going to showcase the subject by filling the frame with it. Although this seems like an easy concept, there are some challenges that go along with composing images this way.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when you approach this week. Watch the edges of your frame; often a successful FTF image will have part of the story extend through the edges. Make sure your crops are appropriate, and don’t crop at the joint of a subject (elbows, wrists, knees, ankles, etc.). If you are shooting a wider composed image, take care to avoid chopping items off that leave awkward or extraneous bits on the edges that have no context. On the other hand, sometimes having items just cropped does help to tell the story more; this will be very photo-dependent and you’ll have to use your best judgment as to what stays and goes; remember you can always use the clone tool if necessary to clean up the edges.
Negative space in these types of images should be kept to a minimum, and ideally not even appear in the frame, other than perhaps some blur from depth of field, or a little bit to not avoid awkward crops as described above. When you fill the frame, everything in the photo should somehow relate to the overall story. If there is depth of field blur, take care to keep it related to the entire image by color or pattern to help with the idea of filling everything in.
One of the easiest ways to fill the frame is to shoot macro or close up. By getting in close to your subject, you can eliminate all distractions and have the viewer instantly figure out what the story of your image is.
Another good way to tackle this technique is to find a scene that has a lot of repeating shapes or colors. This is a good non-macro technique for those of you unable or uninterested in composing close up.
Street and documentary styles of images usually work very well for filling the frame. Here again, watch your edges and be deliberate with what you have in or out of the frame. Often for these types of photos you will use a narrower aperture to capture more of the scene and/or action.
The next two images do have items that are cropped from the edges of the frame, but you can see that each item deliberately relates back to the story being told.
Getting close in portraits is another technique. The two children examples I took in my beginning days of photography. Ideally I would have had a bit more of the hand on the left side and all of the camera included, and I wish that I had captured the full left eye of the baby; I included them here to show you an idea of a close portrait, but also as examples of a bad crop and what not to do. Still, the concept of fillling the frame for these works well, even if the compositions are slightly off.
Which ever approach you choose this week, make sure that your subject takes up the entire frame and tells a story.
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