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My Easy Guide to Framing

As you probably already know, most stories are better told with some sort of visual accompaniment. Whether it’s the fish you caught last week, an awesome moment of your child learning to walk, or a quick shot of the city like the one below.


Almost all phones now have camera capabilities for that specific reason.

Frankly, there are entire companies like Instagram, which sold to Facebook last year for $1 billon dollars, formulated around the idea of taking pictures to tell stories.

Smart phones’ cameras have been improving with leaps and bounds—the current Nokia Lumia 1020 boasts 41 megapixels, sold under the marketing name of a—get this—camera phone. No longer do we question whether the average citizen has an adequate camera—but how their photographs look.

Personally, I always like to have my camera handy, but often times there are moments when all I have in my pocket is my nifty little smartphone with it’s nifty little camera. And while there’s a lot less control with my iPhone, I love having the ability to whip it out and take a quick shot of my subject matter.

We could go ahead and talk a whole lot about lighting, flash, HDR, and all the other functionalities of your camera but I think the easiest and most fundamental rule of photography is the standout winner in this topic. Framing.

So, what is framing exactly?

Think of it this way: we often put the photos we take into frames as a way of displaying and drawing attention to our favorite photos – but there is another type of framing that you can do as you’re taking your shots that can be just as effective at drawing attention.

Framing is the technique of drawing attention to the subject of your image by blocking or including parts of the scenery in your shot, and telling a story your viewer can understand fully.


1. Utilizes the rule of thirds.

In the rule of thirds, photos are divided into thirds with two imaginary lines vertically and two lines horizontally making three columns, three rows, and nine sections in the images. Important compositional elements and leading lines are placed on or near the imaginary lines and where the lines intersect.


2. Gives the photo context

Framing a scene with an archway can tell you something about the place you are by the architecture of the archway or including some foliage in the foreground of a shot can convey a sense of being out in nature.


3. Gives images a sense of depth and layers

Framing a shot properly leaves you with a full story, a beginning middle and an end—all tied up into one shot. Don’t be scared to get down and dirty for interesting angles.


4. Leads the eye towards your main focal point

While some ‘frames’ can draw your photo’s viewer into the picture just by their placement, it is also believed that a frame can not only draw the eye into a picture but that it keeps it there longer – giving a barrier between your subject and the outside of the shot, both time-wise and spatially.


5. Intrigues your viewer.

Sometimes it’s what you can’t see in an image that draws you into it as much as (if not more than) what you can see in the picture.

Clever framing that leaves those viewing your image wondering a little or imagining what is behind or deeper within your frame can be quite effective.

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Claiming that framing is the one thing that will elevate your photos is a big one, but I can promise that if you keep these 5 elements of framing in mind, and the results will not lie. Framing is essential to convey meaning to you viewer, and will take your regular ‘iPhoneography’ or ‘Droidagraphs’ to a whole new level.

Maybe you’ll get a few extra double taps on Instagram—but the value each photograph holds for you and your viewer is much beyond a simple like. Good skills with a camera will allow you to capture those things most important to you, and remember the story word for word—even if it was just a simple camera phone picture.

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