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Compositional Framing: Tips on Using Frames Within a Photo

In photography, compositional framing is when the photographer uses objects within the photo to frame the main point of interest. Applying this technique to your photography helps draw the eye to the main focal point. There are unlimited ways to incorporate frames within a photo, here are a few ideas.

Consider choosing frames that show a relationship to the main focal point, such as fallen trees for a photo in the forest or driftwood for a scenic beach shot or, like in this this example, stones.

Ocean landscape framed with beach stones

Try shooting from different angles to discover frames that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Children playing in autumn leaves and trees

As this photo shows, frames don’t need to surround the focal point entirely to be effective.

Winter sunset over frozen Canadian lake framed by tree branches

Framing is a great way to highlight focal points and add interest to landscape photography.

Trees on a beach framing a dog and the sunset

When using the framing technique, you should consider the depth of field. Would the photo be more interesting if the frame was in focus or blurred? If the frame itself is interesting, you might want to ensure it’s in focus, otherwise, having a blurred frame with the subject in focus will look great. Or, like the landscape photo shown previously, having both the frame and the main focal point in sharp focus can also be effective.

Horse looking through a wooden fence

Finding frames to use within a photo just takes a little imagination, nearly anything can be used as compositional frames.

Puppies in a wooden doghouse as an example of compositional framing

You can even use other people or animals to frame your main point of interest.

Mother's hands framing baby's feet in the shape of a heart

If you’re having a hard time finding creative frames, arches, doorways or windows are always a great place to start.

Person fishing under a bridge on an overcast day, an example of creative compositional framing

Also, take other composition techniques into consideration to add even more appeal to your photos, such as following the rule of thirds, or adding texture and contrast to your image. Here are more examples of compositional framing to help get your creative juices flowing! 

Elderly woman thoughtfully looking out a window

Little girl in a colourful playhouse as an example of creative compositional framing

Baby goat at the Beacon Hill Park Petting Zoo in Victoria, BC, Canada

Man and child walking under a bridge as an example of compositional framing

Ocean shore and trees framed by a hole in a piece of driftwood

Rocky landscape example of creative compositional framing photography technique

Little boy looking through a wood-framed window as an example of compositional framing


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