By: David Peters
The use of a frame can turn an otherwise plain picture into a pleasing one. Usually a foreground element is used to create the frame. Examples are an overhanging tree branch, a window frame, a door, arches, a fence, rows of trees, etc.
Generally frames are used to isolate the main subject of your photograph and create a visually interesting composition. The idea behind framing your photograph is to give your picture depth. There will be times you may choose to keep the detail of the frame (as in a wall, fence or branch), or you may choose to let the frame go completely dark (as in a window frame).
Some ideas to keep in mind when you are organizing a photo: look around the foreground (and sometimes, even middle or background) and choose objects that might be used as a natural frame. There will be times you may need to physically back or even kneel down for a more pleasant composition. You can even try zooming in to include your subject within the frame that you have chosen.
Framing can also be done after the fact by combining two or more pictures in an image editing software. Very dramatic effects can be accomplished this way and you are only limited by your imagination.
A word of caution is necessary here, however. While there is nothing wrong with combining different images to create a separate one, please be very careful about employing artificial frames on identifiable scenes and landscapes.
This is an extreme example of this warning; don’t frame the Statue of Liberty by the St. Louis Arch. The picture will not look right unless your purpose is to create dissonance within your viewers’ minds.
The next time you take your shot, look around and see if there is an object that you can use as a natural frame. Try to take a picture without the frame, and another one with the frame, and then compare the two. I would bet money that you will like the one with the frame better!