Basic Composition: Framing

Basic Composition: Framing

For the last few months, our photographic challenges have focused on composition. This is because composition is one of the most important aspects of a photograph. These rules are there because they give your photos balance and help your viewer easily (and quickly) understand what is important within the photo you have taken.

This month we will focus on Framing. Framing is a compositional technique of drawing attention your image’s subject by blocking other parts of the image with something in the scene. It can help give your image a sense of place and time—adding meaning to your photo. In addition, framing can also be a very strong storytelling technique—before you begin to frame your images, it is important to consider the effect it will have on the story you are trying to convey. For example, while framing a subject can allow you direct the viewer to exactly what you want them to look at, it can also give the viewer a feeling of  interrupting, or peeking into, a private moment.

Almost anything can be used to frame items and people within a photograph. Below are a few framing elements (both literal and non) that can be used:

  1. Light and shadow
  2. Architectural elements (windows, doorways, etc.)
  3. Environmental Elements (leaves, people, etc.)

As you can see, frames are everywhere and just about anything can be used to frame your subject. However, before you do so, it is important to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Will this add or take away from the image I am trying to create?
  2. What is the story I am trying to tell?

How we choose to frame cannot only impact the how easily the viewer can interpret the photo (framing can add visual clutter if the photographer is not careful), but it can also affect the story being told. Therefore, it is important to be selective on what you choose to frame.

Five things to know about framing:

  1. A frame does not need to surround your subject
  2. The edges of your frame can vary – a building edge can create one side, while a passerby head can create the other while a light-colored floor could make up the bottom.
  3. Framing can be symmetrical, but it does not have to be
  4. A frame can be created by simply getting close to your foreground.
  5. Trees, doorways, crowds, windows, and any other everyday objects can make good framing objects.
  6. Contrast between light and dark can create some interesting frames of your subject.

Like the rule of thirds, minimalism, and other compositional rules, framing is just tool. If used properly, framing can help you add something to your imagery. While it is important to be aware of frames while you are photographing, it is equally important to remember not every photograph needs a frame.

Want to learn more about photography basics, participate in monthly challenges, and receive constructive criticism on your images?

Join our Facebook group, Capturing Life: A Rochester Parent Beginner Photo Group. Be sure to answer the questions so one of our admins can let you in!

A Whole Different Kind of Remembering

A Whole Different Kind of Remembering

Last year, I spent a 1/2 day documenting a typical evening routine for Melissa Norton and her adorable family. Since then a lot has changed: Melissa and her family added a new family member and they moved into a new house. Recently, I asked past clients if they would be willing to write a blog post about their experiences for my site and Melissa was the first one to volunteer. Below is the post she wrote about her experience. Thank you, Melissa, for your kind words and I look forward to working with your family again in the future <3 


Documentary Photography sounds like something National Geographic does to capture moments that reflect a topic they are covering. Never had I thought of Documentary Photography as pertaining to capturing MY moments, in MY everyday family life. Moments that happen every day, the ones we forget to remember how special they are, how special each moment is. Gabriella and her style of photography captured those moments for my family.

Having Gabriella come into our home, almost as a fly on the wall, was something we had never done before. Sure, we’ve had a photographer come to our house for newborn pictures and met another at a park for family pictures, but this was so much different; it had a deeper meaning. We love our newborn and family photos, but it is so unique to have candid shots of what seem like mindless, everyday tasks. The things we do every day without taking a step back to see how special those moments are and how one day we will think back to bath time, brushing teeth, and story time. Having Gabriella capture these kinds of moments means I don’t have to just think back—I can look back.

We were curious about having a photographer at our house for a few hours taking pictures as we did “us”. Was it going to be awkward? Would she be judging us? Is it okay to let Josie play on the tablet? (haha!) As usual, I was overthinking things! Gabriella was so wonderful to work with. She is so easy going, friendly, and laid back. She was able to still-frame moments of our life that we would never think to take a picture of. One of my favorite pictures is of me reading to my then 18-month-old as I was about 16 weeks pregnant. Since babe #2 was born, daddy has taken over bedtime with my oldest as I put the baby to bed. Looking back on this picture, I am able to go right back to those moments, when it was just me and Josie reading together. Just she and I. I can smell her “just washed” hair, feel her rest her little head against me, hear her little voice asking to sing a song after we finish a book— it seems like so long ago! Something that makes each picture captured special to us is that they are taken in our first home together. We have since moved, but we now have images of our everyday life in the little house we first became a family in.

For anyone considering doing this kind of session or anyone who thinks it’s a bit weird, JUST GO FOR IT! You will not be disappointed. You may think you will always remember the little things, each moment, but to be able to see that moment—your baby’s smirk, that messy playroom, your husband’s bushy beard. It’s a whole different kind of remembering.  –Melissa