by Gary A. Cain, Ph.D.
Look For Natural FramesEverybody hates boring.
Boring people. Boring lectures. Boring photographs.
Hate. Hate. Hate.
Can’t help with the first two, but here’s a trick to eliminate boring photographs.
Never again have the subject of your photograph just standing there in the midst of vast nothingness, sticking up against a ho-hum sky.
Instead, scout around the foreground area looking for something interesting to fill the otherwise empty space around and/or above the subject.
In this shot of the Washington Monument (surrounded by scaffolding during earthquake repairs last summer), I walked around until I found a stately tree to provide a natural frame.
The resulting image possesses much more visual interest and balance than just the boring sky which I would have gotten by shooting from 10 feet farther ahead.
Structural Frames Work TooPurists would say even better frames should help place the main subject in context with its surroundings. In this image of the colonial-era Bellevue Mansion (located in Bellevue State Park, Wilmington, Delaware), I shot through the nearby gazebo.
The gazebo does much more than just fill empty space in the photo around the mansion. It’s looming presence also suggests that the gazebo played an important role in colonial life. What’s more, from this vantage point the viewer almost feels present right there in the scene.
Not to Bore You, But It’s Called Compositional Framing
In photography-speak, this ‘How-To’ tip is all about composition. Compose the main subject with a framing foreground element before you press the shutter button. It’ll help banish boring in your photographs.