The Ultimate P52 | Week 13 | Framing

Well this week marks the end of the first quarter of the year! How is that even possible? This week we are going to look at one of my favorite compositional techniques, framing. Although many modern art and photographic pieces are frameless, most art is not only framed but also matted, giving the artwork several different borders, which separates it from the background on which it is hanging or sitting. The frames offer a structure that delineates beginning and end of the artwork.

Framing is a great way to direct your viewer’s eye to the subject and give the subject a sense of place and belonging. You can find framing elements in nature and architecture, or you build them yourself within an image with some of the layering and lighting techniques we’ve already talked about. This is a great week to use some of our past lessons to create a more dynamic image.

One of the easiest ways to include framing in your images is simply to shoot through or towards a window. It is a simple but very effective technique. Windows already add a distinct shape and inherently add layers by offering an inside/outside view. You don’t always have to be inside looking out; using windows from the outside allow for more layers with reflections..

Architectural elements are another easy way to add in a framing element; look for fences, archways, or doorways. Often just having one side of a doorway is enough to introduce the idea of framing, as our brains naturally understand that a doorway is whole, even though it is not included in the entire photo.

Mirrors or other reflective surfaces offer natural borders to help surround your subjects.

Nature itself is a great way to add framing to an image, whether shooting through foliage or using trees and branches as framing elements.

Pathways are another way to feature framing, and they often have the added benefit of leading lines, which we will cover more in depth in June.

Lastly, don’t overlook non-traditional elements for framing, like using part of the subject itself as the framing device. You can see in the following examples how some of the secondary elements in the images work to frame the main subject.

You might find that this week ends up heavy on center compositions. Although I would encourage you to try to find alternate compositions if possible, many framed images are naturally center comped because they offer a lot of symmetry and it makes for a stronger image. Use your best judgment for this, but don’t be afraid to center compose this week if it makes sense.

Follow along with my Project 52 in 2023

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