Marg’s Tip for September

Using Natural Framing to Improve Your Composition


To help you compose more exciting and beautiful photographs there are certain key techniques that you can use. Using framing can create extremely impressive and elegant images when done right. Here are some tips.

Natural framing is when you use an element within your image to frame the subject. This draws the eye into the photo and highlights the actual subject. The internal frame can be constructed using a multitude of things you’ll find anywhere – branches, archways, tunnels. door frames etc. as well as things that aren’t solid like light, shadows, rain, fog etc. – it doesn’t matter what you use. Framing is a technique to use sparingly.
Why should you use natural framing?

  • it easily draws your viewer’s eye into the photo and emphasizes the subject.
  • it brings a sense of order and structure to a photo and the eye loves order.
  • to obscure boring sky.
  • to add depth to an image – especially when the item acting as a frame is not in focus.
  • to bring contrasting elements into the photo without detracting from the subject.
  • to create structure.
  • to create a feeling of a self-contained image, particularly if you are photographing something quite ordinary and simple, a frame will help give depth to the subject.

Natural framing is one of the hardest rules to pull off well. Many people use it to make a boring landscape or scene more interesting. If your subject is boring, no technique is going to liven it up. Framing should be used as an additional interesting element – not as an overlay to a mundane scene.

  • a photo looks more natural and pleasing for the frame to take up 2 or 3 sides of the frame.
  • when the frame is out of focus it creates a sense of depth in the image.
  • the frame can be made from different elements – the colours can be the same and have interesting shapes.

Natural framing is a very good way to remember that you are in control of how the viewer’s eye will go around the image. Your job as photographer is to direct the eye.
As a photographer you need to make sure that everything you put in a frame is saying something that you want it to – that the elements are all working together to form the idea and feeling that you seek.

  • what am I feeling here?
  • what is interesting to me in the scene?
  • why is this important?

A final thought from Henri Cartier-Brisson
“You just have to live and life will give you a picture”.