In Digital, Fine Art Photography, How-to, Inspiration
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Today I want to talk about framing, but not the framing that might first come mind when you think about photography.  There is the framing that helps you display your photos on a wall, and then there is the composition technique I love and rely on with increasing frequency these days — framing within the frame.  

I am always looking for creative ways to compose a shot.  For the last few years, I have been photographing beach culture from the vantage point of the water and also from the beach itself.  I travel to locations around the world and immerse myself in the environment, endeavoring to see the scene from as many angles as possible.  Since beaches can be somewhat straightforward — a long expanse of sand, bright sun, the horizon far off in the distance — I am invariably on the lookout for a fresh take. 

Framing within the frame provides context, depth, and layers to the scene.  It also provides atmosphere, which is the real draw for me.  I long for my photographs to evoke a feeling.  I want the viewer to see themselves in the scene, rather than feel removed from it.  Framing helps me get there.

Framing can come from natural elements like trees . . .

Black Rock Beach, Maui (2017)
Isola Bella, Sicily (2018)

Architecture  . . .

Santa Monica Pier, California (2018)

Or both . . .

Isola Bella, Sicily (2018)

Framing can come from items that are available in the scene, such as the umbrella on the beach in Sicily.  Having the umbrella in the foreground grounds the photograph, gives it depth and layers.

Occasionally I get a lucky break and my subjects do the work for me.

Siesta Key Beach, Florida (2017)

Framing doesn’t need to surround the subject completely to be effective.  Think of it as a garnish.

Au’au Channel, Maui (2016)
Isola Bella, Sicily (2018)

And of course, I use framing in my compositions when I am not at the beach too.  Windows are a classic element used to draw your eye to your subject.  Here are a few favorites from my archives.

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco (2017)
Kahului Airport, Maui (2017)
Tethered Capture, Seattle (2016)

Next time you have your camera handy, look at your scene with a curious eye for elements that contribute to a creative framing, but as with any technique, I recommend using it judiciously.  Sprinkle it in among your other compositions when the opportunity presents itself.   And, above all have fun with it.





  1. I shoot mountain bike races, and love using trees and shadows to help frame the bikers as they race by me. I don’t shoot that way the entire race, but it’s fun throwing in a few creative angles every now and then. Beautiful pictures, Deb!

    • Yes! It’s fun to find new ways to see something we shoot again and again. I’m happy you enjoy the process too. xoxo Deb

    • Thank you, Kirstin. Sicily was fabulous!. Our favorite was Favignana. I highly recommend you check it out. xoxo deb

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