6 Amazing Types Of Frame Within A Frame

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6 Amazing Types Of Frame Within A Frame

This blog post may contain affiliate links.  I may earn a small commission for any purchases made through these links. Click here for the disclosure statement.

All photos are original to the author unless otherwise noted. 

Mountain goat peeks between two rocks creating a frame within a frame

Photography composition is all about creating visually appealing images with strong impact. Every image has a story to tell, and how elements are placed within the frame can make all the difference in enticing viewers to engage with the photograph. One such technique that can add depth and intrigue to an image is the frame within a frame. It involves strategically shooting a subject through an element within the frame, creating a layering effect that draws the viewer’s attention to the subject. Whether it’s a doorway, a window, a natural arch, or even a set of tree branches, this technique can add depth and context to an image, making it more interesting and memorable. In this blog post, we will explore the frame within a frame photography technique, including how to incorporate it into your photography composition to create beautiful and captivating images.

What is Frame Within A Frame, and how do you use it?

In photography, a frame within a frame is a composition technique where elements within the scene frame the subject of the photograph. These elements could be anything from windows and doorways to arches and trees. The purpose of this technique is to add depth and interest to the photograph by creating layers and leading the viewer’s eye to the subject.

The frame within a frame technique is often used in landscape photography, where natural features like trees or rock formations can be used to create the framing element. It is also commonly used in portrait photography, where the frame can be created by arches or doorways, giving the photograph a sense of depth and context. In street photography, the technique can be used to create visual interest and lead the viewer’s eye toward the subject amidst the hustle and bustle of a busy city scene. Overall, the frame within a frame technique is a powerful tool for adding visual interest to photographs and making the subject stand out.

Examples of Frame Within A Frame

Framing and Composition With Man-Made Objects

Creating a frame within a frame using man-made objects is a simple yet effective way to add depth, interest, and context to a photograph. To achieve this effect, use elements such as windows, doorways, arches, or any other man-made structures to frame the subject of the photo.
Frame With in a Frame Using light Silhouette of man looking out window

In this example, the use of darkness and light acts as a framing device that enhances the sense of loneliness. The darkness that surrounds the man isolates him from the outside world, while the light that comes through the window only serves to illuminate his loneliness. Together, these framing convey a sense of solitude and despair, effectively drawing the viewer’s attention to the person and their emotional state.

A window can provide a sense of location and perspective by creating a visual anchor for the viewer’s gaze. By framing the scene within the window, the viewer is able to place themselves within the environment and gain a sense of where they are in relation to the surroundings.

Dreamy Window Covered In vines

Framing Photography With Natural Elements

Girl on a dock during the summer
Berlin Cathedral

Using nature to create a frame can add an element of visual interest and uniqueness to popular photo spots, allowing the photographer to capture something that stands out. It can also add meaning to the photograph, as the frame can be used to convey a certain mood or feeling. For example, a frame created from branches may add an element of mystery and intrigue to the photo, while using rocks could create a feeling of stability and endurance. Ultimately, the use of nature as a framing device can help to transform an ordinary photograph into a compelling one.

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

To use bokeh as a frame within a frame technique, first, find an object in your scene that you can use to create a foreground element. This might be a tree branch, a rock, or any object that can partially obstruct your view of the subject. Focus your camera on the subject in the background and adjust your aperture to create a shallow depth of field, creating a bokeh effect in the in the foreground. Experiment with different foreground objects, aperture settings, and background elements to create unique and interesting compositions. Remember to keep your subject in focus and ensure that the foreground object is not obstructing your view of the subject too much.

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

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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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