Friendly Friday Challenge: framing your subject
There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographsAnsel Adams
In setting my previous Friendly Friday Challenge about the ‘rule of thirds’, I should perhaps have started with a disclaimer. We talk about the rules of photography but what we really mean are guidelines. Guidelines that help you to create compositions pleasing to the eye; guidelines that help you create impact and draw the viewer in.
The rule of thirds is designed to do just that, but it isn’t a ‘rule’ in the sense that it must be obeyed; and nor are any of the others I plan to discuss in this series.
So with that disclaimer, let’s look now at how we can use ‘frames’ to enhance our photos. I’m not talking about actual photo frames of course. No, I mean anything within an image that can be used to frame your main subject and draw attention to it. This could be a man-made structure such as a bridge, arch or fence; it could be a natural feature such as a tree; or could even be human (think of hands clasped around a face).
Frames have various uses when it comes to composition. The most obvious perhaps is that they serve to guide the eye to one main point in a scene or a subject that you want to emphasise. But you can also use them to hide other objects that you don’t want to be seen.
Plus, a frame gives your image depth and perspective. Photography is a two-dimensional art, but a frame can trick the eye into seeing in three dimensions.
And adding a frame can give the viewer more information about where the shot was taken by setting the main subject, perhaps a person, within a context such as a building.
Probably most of you already do this at times, so I’ll be interested to see your examples. Meanwhile, here are a few of mine.
A church in Jelgava, Latvia
This is a classic example of trees adding depth to a subject. Here there are several ‘layers’ of trees, with a foreground branch, another on the right in the middle ground and a line immediately in front of the church.
Kadriorg Palace, Tallinn, Estonia
In this example it is the obvious distance between the tree and the building that gives a sense of depth and help to convey the size of the palace.
Keats’ House, Hampstead, London
The trees that frame the house help to isolate it and make the whiteness stand out. Although this is London, including the trees tells us that the setting is far from urban. Thus the frame provides context and additional information for the viewer.
The church in the Cotswold village of Ascott-under-Wychwood, England
Here again the trees help the building stand out from its surroundings and give the image more depth. I could have taken a step forwards to leave them out of the frame but the shot would have probably been less interesting had I done so.
The hilltop village of Serra San Quirico in Italy’s Marche region
You can photograph this village (one of my favourites in the region) in several ways, each illustrating a different aspect of its character. From a distance you see it perched on its hill top, standing out from the surrounding countryside and commanding attention. Close to, you can photograph its narrow streets, creating a sense of intimacy. But I like this view, taken from near the parking area at the foot of the hill. The trees framing the shot help to make the village look isolated, cut off from the surrounding land. And the contrast between deep greens and old stones glowing in the afternoon sun is striking.
View of the Pacific from the Selda Monteverde hotel, Costa Rica
These trees frame a very distant view and without them the photo would simply look flat and uninteresting! They also add colour, as the landscape itself is rather monotone.
The Jal Mahal on Man Sagar Lake, Jaipur
This image shows that trees don’t have to be green to frame a subject and add that sense of depth. Also, that this technique can work just as well in portrait-format shots as in classic landscape ones.
While trees are the most frequently mentioned potential frames for your subjects, arches (whether man-made or natural) work equally as well.
Looking out from one of the Gila Cliff caves, New Mexico
As well as framing the vista of the valley below and distant hills, this shot recreates the view the ancients who lived in these caves would have had.
Visitors get their first sight of the Taj Mahal, Agra
Here the silhouettes of the excited tourists combine with the arch of the gateway to create a slightly different image of this much-photographed and iconic building. It’s hard to escape the crowds here, so why not make use of them?!
A lane in the Southern Medina, Marrakesh
In addition to the arch, the bicycle adds further interest to the foreground and directs the viewer’s eye towards the two men shopping.
A typical street in Gubbio, Italy
As well as framing the view of the street, this composition tells us something about the character of this old town.
Other ideas for frames
While trees are often used and arches form an obvious frame, we needn’t limit ourselves to these. Almost anything can serve to frame your shot if you think creatively. So next time you’re out taking photos have a look around your subject and see if you can identify a different way of presenting it, to draw your viewer in with a frame.
Angkor Wat just after sunrise, Cambodia
With the lighting rather flat in the hazy air, including the ruined balustrade and sculpture in the left of my photo provided added interest and framed this wider view of the famous ruins.
The Eiffel Tower from the Pont Alexandre III in Paris
The Eiffel Tower has to be one of the most photographed sights in the world, so why not try to find a different angle? Here I’ve used one of the ornate sculptures on the bridge to frame the view
Artist in the Plaza de Armas, Santiago, Chile
Using the artist’s easel as a frame not only makes the shot more interesting but also tells the viewer something about him.
Rusty old machinery on Dungeness Beach in Kent, England
Your frame doesn’t need to be in focus. In fact a slightly blurred frame can literally focus the viewer’s eye on what lies beyond as well as adding a sense of depth to the shot.
Whitstable Beach on a dull day, Kent, England
And finally, don’t overlook the obvious! Sometimes a window frame provides the perfect photo frame too. This shot was taken from a café on a day when a hot drink was very much needed.
So now it’s your turn. Please share some ‘framed’ photos from your archives, or maybe get out on a photoshoot and look for frames you can use to add impact to your shots. But don’t overdo it. Like most such devices, if you use frames in every photo they will start to look contrived and monotonous!
Thank you to everyone who had a go last time around, sharing your rule of thirds examples and/or challenging me about the need for such a ‘rule’!
Sofia demonstrated the rule with some beautiful flower and architecture shots.
Brian doubled-up with a minimalistic Wordless Wednesday shot.
And Philo’s contribution was also quite minimalistic and delicate.
Sandy explored the impact of different approaches to the same scene and in a second post found an alternative shot she felt fitted the rule better – I agreed!
Cee uses this rule/guideline a lot and it shows in her photos; she had a great selection to illustrate it for this challenge.
Aleta had some lovely examples from the natural world.
Manja wanted to rebel against the ‘rule’ but concluded rightly that it is just the general idea that matters and not precise execution!
Amanda pondered whether you can you apply the rule to a photo of a single object, and demonstrated with a beautiful waterlily that you absolutely can!
And Eklastic gave us an excellent example in her stork photo.
I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us this time!
The window picture looks almost like an actual frame around a picture. Your tree frames are most effective against the bright blue sky. The first two photos were especially arresting. Kadriorg Palace, Tallinn, Estonia was my favorite because of the red building and the beautiful tree frame. Your posts are great lessons in the essential basics of photography with excellent examples. I love the arches. 🙂
Thank you Marsha 🙂 It’s always great to get feedback about particular shots like this, and I appreciate your kind words!
Bren (Brashley Photography)
What a great subject and beautiful images… I hope it is not too late to subject my entry.
Not too late at all – thanks for joining in 😀
Great framing Sarah!
Thank you Anne 🙂
Here you go, Sarah, some of my frames that I like. I realise that I just have to do everything a little off… I think I like your arches the most.
Thanks for joining in Manja 🙂 And I think I like your arches the most too!
A few from me!
Thank you for joining the challenge Alison, and with such good examples 😀
🙂 thanks Sarah
Photos by Jez
Brilliant challenge, Sarah 👏 Love that last shot at Dungeness; I’ve hopefully got a couple of more odd frames: https://jezbraithwaite.blog/2022/03/30/glasgow-un-framed-framed-sunday-stills-and-friendly-friday/
Thanks so much Jez, and for joining in too 🙂 The combination of urban and framing themes works well!
The palace in Estonia is so pretty (and the tree certainly add to the beauty of the picture). And that view in Costa Rica is also stunningly framed with the trees. Oh, and the caved-view in New Mexico – that is probably my favourite! You have so many lovely framed photo’s here … I will definitely ‘steal’ a few tips here 😊.
Thank you again 😀 Yes, that palace is beautiful – one of these days I must share some photos of the interior which is stunning! I’m happy you’ve picked up some tips – why not have a go and share your results for the challenge?!
Thanks, but I’m not a very good photographer (not even close when looking at your and other blogger’s photo’s) … I would rather just enjoy your challenges!
Great topic Sarah. I had to challenge looking for photos which I hadn’t published before. Luckily I found one and it recalled a memorable evening in Cuba. I even found some old videos that I didn’t even remember taking!
Here’s the link: https://thesandychronicles.blog/2022/03/29/ffc-framing-in-photography/
Thank you Sandy – yours is a super creative example of framing and the video really set the scene 🙂 Thanks for joining in!
Interesting. I love framing things although I probably never gave it the name frame until now.
Thanks so much Lin, I really enjoyed your examples. Interesting that you’ve never called this framing when you clearly do it very well!
Hi Sarah, what a great lesson with a lot of inspiring photos 😀 😀
Here is my entry for the month.
Thanks so much for joining in Cee!
Here you go Sarah. Hope I did they prompt justice trying to find something a little unusual in my travel archives. https://forestwoodfolkart.wordpress.com/2022/03/27/friendly-friday-challenge-framing-your-subject/
Oh yes, you have some great framing examples – I can tell this is a technique you are well aware of and often use, as I do 🙂
It becomes automatic I think. Or a natural frame catches the eye and you just have to capture it.
Yes, I think it does become at least semi-automatic 🙂
And here you go! That was the easiest challenge to respond to, in the circumstances, though I might have done it differently of course, if I’d known about your challenge at the same time: https://margaret21.com/2022/03/22/framing-the-view/
Haha, yes, an easy one for you 😆 I’ve done the same myself with a couple of challenges in the past!
Well, why not relax when we can? 😉
philosophy through photography
It looks ping is not working for me.
So I am pasting my URL.
This is the 3rd time I am doing this.
I wonder whether my comments or pings landing in your spam folder?
I’m getting your comments (see my reply below) but pingbacks often don’t work on my site. I’ve tried everything to resolve the issue, short of starting again with a new site!! The hosting service have investigated thoroughly and can’t find a cause, and I tried changing theme with no success so I’ve given up. As I said to you last time around, the only safe solution is to do as you’ve done here and share a link in your comment. Thank you for persisting and for joining in again 🙂
philosophy through photography
Thank you so much Sarah.
This kind of situation I noticed with other hosts also.
Enabling Ping is a failure and a disappointment and I am sure it’s a glitch and hope WP reading our comments.
It’s always better to paste URL in host’s comment box to be in safe side as you suggested.
That is what I did and in two ocassions my URL disapperared in your comment box and I presumed it must be safely deposited in your spam folder.
Thanks for your patience and understanding.
Thanks for the tips I’ll approach my photography in a new frame of mind.😊
Haha, wish I’d thought of that pun for the post 🤣🤣
I love using frames. They not only provide depth but also sometimes a sense of scale
Yes, they have lots of purposes 😀
Aletta - nowathome
philosophy through photography
Impossible to chose a favourite!
Thanks – there’s absolutely no obligation to do so! And thank you for joining in 😀
I have so much to say about the photos you have presented here, but I will hold myself back from a lengthy babble! They are all so inspiring. I do look for frames in a photo in the general sense, especially I love to find trees that are overhanging the side of a photograph, like ivy trailing around a window!
I especially liked the way you used the crowds in silhouette at the Taj Mahal and looked for a different angle for the over photographed Eiffel Tower. The Gubbia shot is so aesthetic – you should put it up for sale on the net! As for the magnificent church in Latvia – it makes me want to visit the Baltic states asap!
I will see what I can find – I have a lot of framed beachy photos but I will look for something a little more unusual.
Thanks so much for the detailed feedback Amanda – Gubbio is such a special town, its streets full of such scenes 🙂 I’ll look forward to seeing what you come up with!
I’m going to have fun with this one Sarah, I love to take a photo with a natural frame. My favourite from your gallery is the rusty wheel framing the boat 🙂
Thank you Alison, I’ll look forward to seeing what you come up with. No rush – the challenge will run for two weeks!
I can take my time!
Gorgeous photos, Sarah. The Taj Mahal is something else, I love it.
Here is mine:
Thanks so much for joining in, Sofia, and with such a great selection! I’m rather fond of that Taj Mahal shot too as I feel I created something interesting out of a difficult scene to shoot 🙂
Well – an object lesson in framing. I particularly am intrigued by the ones you’ve ‘underframed’. I’ll think about that for my own photos. And you’ll know why I’m not joining this challenge . I went and did it earlier this week for Ann-Christine: https://margaret21.com/2022/03/22/framing-the-view/
I like that new word, ‘underframed’ 😀 Yes, that previous post for Ann-Christine’s challenge fits this theme too perfectly! Do feel free to edit and add this tag too if you want to – we can both pretend you saw this one coming 😆
The gift of foresight. I might just do that – thanks!
philosophy through photography
Love the beach through the window frame and the boat through the wheel.
Old town frame is fantastic!
Love your collection for this theme Sarah.
Thank you so much for featuring my post.
Thanks so much for the lovely comment – I hope you’ll join in again this time?
philosophy through photography
It’s my pleasure Sarah and your theme is interesting and also challenging.
And I am learning a lot from your themes.
That’s so nice to hear! Thank you 😊
Fabulous frames Sarah. Mines a bit rushed so the tags are clues to where and what they are. I should have explained more but I like to keep people guessing 🙂 🙂
Thanks for joining in the challenge Brian 🙂 I had to hunt your post down as the pingback didn’t work (they rarely do on my site for some reason) and you didn’t include a link in your comment, but I’m really glad I managed to find it as you have some super examples!
Oh, the Places We See
Every photo is quite special in this post. I loved each and every one! Thanks for reminding me that framing can help us focus on certain elements rather than the scene as a whole. Your Eiffel Tower photo is a grand example of standing where you can create a unique frame. Excellent post!
Thanks so much 😀 I hope you’re going to join in? I know you must have some good examples to share!
Oh, the Places We See
I wish I could, but I’m posting fewer posts lately. Believe it or not, retirement seems busier than I ever dreamed it could be. Thanks for your Friday tips and all your wonderful travel posts. Love them.
No worries, it’s good to be busy 😀 And you’re more than welcome to the ‘tips’ (I’m happy if you find them useful), while sharing the travel posts is always a pleasure for me 🙂
My favourites are the mountain view in Costa Rica and that great one of the bikes in the archway. Shades of Sue, that second one.
Thank you Jo : Not sure what you mean by ‘shades of Sue’?
Sue Judd? It’s a bit her style.
Ah right, of course 🙂 Yes, I see what you mean!
Anne Fraser @theplatinumline.blog
I had fun with this challenge but it made me realise that I have a lot to learn. https://southwestrambler.com/central-bristol-photos-in-the-frame/
Thanks so much for joining in Anne!