6 Amazing Types Of Frame Within A Frame

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In photography, the term “frame within a frame” is a composition technique in which another element in the scene frames the primary subject. Frame within a frame composition adds depth and interest to an otherwise simple setting. It also draws the viewer’s attention to a specific part of the image. This article will look at how to create a compelling frame within a frame composition using different techniques.

What is frame within a frame, and how does it work

Frame within a frame is when the photographer shoots through elements in the scene to form a frame around the subject. This technique isolates the subject to create a more impactful image that tells a story and elicits an emotional response.

In travel photography, frame within a frame can give the viewer a sense of place. For example, framing the Eiffel Tower with the door of a nearby building can add scale and context. Similarly, photographing a mountain range through a cabin window can add a feeling of coziness and isolation. When used effectively, frame within a frame can be a powerful tool for creating memorable and impactful images.

Examples of Frame Within A Frame

Framing and Composition With Man-Made Objects

In photography, the term “frame within a frame” is a composition technique in which another element in the scene frames the primary subject. Frame within a frame composition adds depth and interest to an otherwise simple scene. They also draw the viewer’s attention to a specific part of the image.
Frame With in a Frame Using light Silhouette of man looking out window

For example, in the black-and-white image, the man is in a dark abyss framed by a window. The darkness and the light also frame him, giving him a sense of isolation and loneliness. 

Windows provide a sense of location and perspective. For example, in the window with the vines, the viewer feels as if they are looking through the window themselves.

Dreamy Window Covered In vines

Framing Photography With Natural Elements

Girl on a dock during the summer
Berlin Cathedral

Frame within a frame can be literal, like the windows, or abstract, like tree branches. Using nature to create a frame can add depth, texture, and something unique to popular photo spots. For example, framing a subject with the branches of a tree can add an element of mystery, while using rocks can create a feeling of stability.

Use Contrasting Colors to Frame the Photo

Frame With a Frame Using Color
photo by Dakota Corbin

By placing the subject against a background with contrasting colors, the photographer can create the illusion of a frame within the frame. This type of composition can be effective in portraits, as it provides a subtle way to focus attention on the subject. In this example, the photographer uses the stark contrast between the dark blue and red walls to frame the mother and child. The result is an image that is both eye-catching and poignant.

Make A Frame With Bokeh

Bokeh refers to blurry elements in the background or foreground, which can create a frame around your subject. This is a handy compositional tool for photographing a cluttered environment, as it will help remove distractions and draw attention to the subject. To create a frame within a frame, position your subject so that other elements in the scene surround it. Then use a large aperture to blur those elements and create a frame around your subject. With a bit of creativity, you can use this technique to produce stunning results.

Photography Composition Using Light and Shadows

Using light and shadow to frame your subject is a unique way to add interest to your photos. In this example, the lighthouse is well-lit, while the rest of the image is in the shadows. This creates a contrast that draws the eye to the lighthouse. You can also use light to frame your subject with sun glares, flashes, or light peeking through trees. Light can create a sense of peace and serenity or darkness and moodiness, depending on its usage.

Frame within a frame practice example - lighthouse framed by trees and shadows
Photo by Evan Leith


Include Foreground and Background Elements

One way to add depth and interest to your photography is to frame your subject using foreground and background elements. Foreground elements are anything in front of your subject, such as trees, bushes, or rocks. This will help give the viewer a sense of scale and place within the scene. To create depth in your frame within a frame, include both foreground and background elements. This will give the illusion of depth and make your photo more interesting. Experiment with different compositions to see what works best for the scene you are trying to capture.

Use Texture and Patterns

When framing your subject in photography, you can use texture and patterns to add visual interest and depth. For example, a photographer could use a rippling flag to add movement to a static image. Similarly, a photographer could use a repeating pattern, such as the tiles on a floor or the feathers on a bird’s wing, to create a frame.

Create Half Frames

The Louvre - Paris, France
Small Wooden Row Boat Floating in a Dock

Using half frames in a photo creates an interesting and different look from what you would typically see. A frame does not have to enclose all four sides of the picture, nor does it need to be left to right or top to bottom. In this example, notice how the pillars and the buildings frame the Louvre on the sides as they move toward the background. In the boat picture, the dock frames the kayak from front to back, giving a sense of depth to the image.

Use Negative Space Effectively

Negative space refers to the empty areas around and between the subjects of an image. While negative space is often considered simply “empty,” it plays a vital role in the composition. Sometimes, negative space can be used to create a frame. Negative space isolates the subject and emphasizes more essential elements in the image. As a result, this technique can create a more dynamic and interesting composition.

Create Frames with Interesting Shapes

One way to make your frame within a frame stand out is to use an interesting shape. For example, try using a circular or triangular frame instead of a traditional rectangle. This will give your image more visual interest and make it more likely to catch the viewer’s eye.

Combine with Leading Lines

Leading lines are often used to create a sense of depth and perspective, drawing the viewer’s eye into the distance. This can be an actual line, like a road or a river, or implied by other elements in the scene, like juxtaposed colors or a series of shapes. This technique can be especially effective when combined with other framing elements, like doorways or windows. Photographers can create images with incredible visual impact by carefully considering the placement of leading lines. 

Author Bio

Author Bio Image

Delaney is a Business Analyst by day and a travel and wildlife photographer by night who is using her skills for translating complex technical language into easy to understand concepts to make photography achievable at all skill levels. You have questions; she has answers.

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