The photos are first taken with the eyes and then, using the camera, immortalize them on paper (or in a digital file). The difference is that the vision has no set limits (or are ignored) while the cameras themselves and those limits, known as borders, will be the framework of all your photographs.

The way you use this limit when framing (composing) your photographs may radically change the sensations that your photos convey, so knowing the secrets of the framing becomes almost an obligation.

In the article I will tell you not only that it is the framing and the different types of these, but you will also learn in which situations it is convenient to use one or the other in order to enhance the messages and feelings that they transmit. You can not lose this!


The framing, in photography, refers to the portion of the scene that as a photographer, you will use for your photographs. That is, what proportion of the scene are you going to capture in a photograph. Imagine framing as the scenario where your photos take place.

The framing is a fundamental element when it comes to building the photographs since, the edges of the photo, which are almost always rectangular, exert a great influence on the content of the photo and the messages and sensations that they transmit.

The way you use the edges of the frame to distribute the elements (compose) within it, will give strength or not to your photographs. Taking the juice out of the frame will depend on two things: the first, your knowledge in composition and the second, the experience you will get photo by photo.

Take your time when framing

Basically there are three ways to frame:

  • You plan the framing in advance, for once you have decided all the elements to include in your photograph, adjust the camera parameters for the shot.
  • You compose the photograph while you frame, that is, you decide what elements you will include or not in your photographs in the instant before pressing the shutter button.
  • You take the picture for later, re-frame it on the computer.

Distinguishing the different ways of making a framing does not mean belittling one method over the other. Most likely, depending on each situation, you use one or another method, according to the possibilities that the type of photography you are taking allows you.

In nature photography, for example, it is more important to be able to take the photograph of that rare bird species, than to worry about framing before taking or re-framing after it. In fact, in wildlife photography the vast majority of frames are then made on the computer.


When you go through a scene through the viewfinder, you will be able to notice how many possible photographs begin to appear in it, which will be more or less attractive depending on how you frame them.

Depending on what elements you want to include in your photograph and how the relationships with the edges of the frame, these will have a greater or lesser influence on the final image.

Remember that, as I mentioned in the article “16 ways to give prominence to your subjects”, the observer’s gaze always seeks to be guided to go through a photograph: the framing and the lines, explicit or not, will mark the way to go to the eyes while reinforcing the messages and help to transmit the sensations better.

Pay attention to the following examples:

The way in which the elements within the frame have been arranged is not accidental: the horizontal borders and the vertical lines have contributed strongly to the final design of the photographs, generating greater impact on the spectators.

To do so, photographers Mikel Ortega and A. González-Alba , have used both the lateral edges and the diagonal lines and the angles that they form with each other, in order to generate tensions that are very attractive to the eyes of the observers.

Look at the following photo:

This frame does not generate as much tension as the previous one

As you will see, it is the same situation as in the example of the fisherman with a red cap, but this time, the framing used has been different. In this case, the parallel lines of the ground and the cane with respect to the edge of the frame do not create as much attractive tension as in the example set forth above. If you look, I not only change the way to take advantage of the angles but also, the author, has inclined to a different framing format: the square.


As you have seen, the edges of the framing and the proportion of these have a great influence, not only in the form acquired by the final photograph, but also in the sensations generated by the viewer.

The format of the frame fulfills the function of separating the image from everything that surrounds it, that is, the frame, so that you can control its composition. Depending on what you want to convey, one frame format may help you do more than another. But what is the framing format?

Although the photographs can be worked to acquire a sense of depth, they only have two dimensions: height and width. When we talk about the proportion or format of the frame, we are referring to the relationship (mathematical) that exists between the height and width of the frame.

  • Standard 3: 2 format (Width x Height): This format is the most used by the sensors of the cameras either 35mm or not (35mm refers to the width of the sensor or film). This format is very popular because it represents very well the feeling of horizontality of the vision of the human being.
  • Intermediate 4: 3 formats: these types of formats have gained greater prominence in recent years with the growing popularity of digital cameras and the “more natural” feel their images offer. In spite of this, as far as composition is concerned, since there is not such a dominant direction (the difference between the width and the height of the frame is less marked), they are not so comfortable for when arranging the elements in the scene . Despite this, they are more flexible when shooting.
  • Square format: the ratio in this type of framing is 1: 1, that is, both the width and height are equal. Very few cameras allow you to shoot natively in this format, but you can simulate it by trimming the photo on the computer, that is, by framing it later. It is an unusual format because, there are few scenes that lend themselves to that format. How to get the juice? Taking advantage of the feeling of symmetry and perfect balance that they transmit, and then breaking it at the time of arranging the elements, or taking advantage of said balance and strengthening it.
  • Panoramic: this type of images, as you can imagine, are those in which the width of the frame is much greater than its height. This type of format allows you to create a horizontal frame, which corresponds to the horizon line, which is ideal for landscape photographs. In most of these scenes, the length of the scene is key, much more so than the depth that they can transmit.


Surely, thanks to your photographic eye and your instinct for aesthetics, without you noticing, you will have noticed that, in certain situations it is more aesthetic to take a photograph with a vertical orientation and in other situations, using a horizontal orientation.

The orientation of the framing is just that, the vertical or horizontal orientation that you will give to the framing (your camera and its sensor) when taking your photographs. Next we will stop to see each one of them:

Horizontal framing: depending on how you intend to arrange the elements present in a given scene, a horizontal orientation can be more effective than a vertical one: if what you want is to convey a sense of stability or, the elements to be portrayed are arranged horizontally, ideal is to use such guidance since it is very comfortable when composing.

If you look, the monitors, televisions and endless visual media around you, have horizontal orientation. This orientation is the most common, probably, because the camera sensor is oriented in the same way, so it is the most natural position when taking a picture.

Horizontal framing

Vertical framing : this type of framing, unlike the previous one that provides more stable images, provides more strength to those photographs whose elements also respect such orientation, such as a portrait (people are taller than wide).

If you pay attention, the vast majority of magazines, advertisements and everything related to fashion, this type of orientation is the most used.

Vertical orientation

The decision to adopt one or the other orientation will depend on the message you want to convey with your photographs. When using one or the other will basically depend on your experience as a photographer, so the more photos you take and the more time you spend analyzing the results, the better decisions you will make. As an exercise, I recommend that, in the same scene you practice the different orientations and then see how one or the other works in the eyes of the viewer. Of course, before I recommend you take a look at the following article: “9 Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Photographic Composition”.

Pay attention to the following photograph: What sensation does it produce?

Do not you find something uncomfortable?

The key when selecting a frame is: balance. Achieving balanced photographs is what will motivate you to choose one or the other, always, depending on the situation you are trying to photograph and the elements you want to use in your photos. Of course, always keep in mind that the balance is up to you: Do you dare to break it?


As the name suggests, re-framing is a “technique” that refers to, once a photograph has been taken, working on the computer or in the study to achieve the desired framing. That is, the picture is taken first and then the best frame is searched.

Although you can make several frames in the same scene, the frame refers to re-frame once the picture has been taken. Then you will see how in one shot, made by photographer Julio Codesal , you can then re-frame it to acquire greater or lesser strength depending on what you want to communicate:


The original photograph of a small cabin has been framed so that you can appreciate the color of the sky and at the same time that the small house and the floor were used, as an anchoring element that gives sustenance and stability to the image. For this, a relatively low horizon was used, in order to emphasize the colors of the sky. The scene gives a feeling of loneliness and peace very well transmitted in it.


Re-frame (1): if within the original frame you re-frame the photograph using a vertical orientation, the tonal weight of the sky and its clouds is even greater, so a good option would be, keeping the sky as a key element, keeping the horizon lower still than in the original photograph. When re-framing, try to maintain the essence of photography by valuing the most interesting elements of these and placing them again.


Re framing (2): if you want to give even more prominence to the sky, such a framing can work very well. The horizon is located even lower, so as to stabilize the image using the ground almost as the edge of the image. This is known as a “base horizon.” To counteract the weight of placing the cabin so low on the left, it almost forces you to use a large portion of the sky to the right of it. Again they have tried to respect the main elements of the original scene.


Re framing (3): this time, the framing has been closed and while maintaining the original proportions to a large extent. In this way, the floor and the cabin gain greater prominence in the scene. The horizon has been located as high as possible, within what the scene allows, so as to ignore a large portion of the sky and focus attention on the cabin.


1-Fill the frame

Even if you don’t notice it, when you take a picture of a subject or object you ask yourself, do I include part of the environment or not? This question is fundamental since the choice you make will greatly influence the final result. The more portion of the frame your motif occupies, the more prominence it will have and you can also capture it in all its splendor (in great detail). Now, perhaps the environment makes photography and the relationship of the motif with it reinforce the message it conveys, such as a photograph of a passer-by and the background city as a framework.

Depending on the sensations that you want to convey to the viewer, you must choose one or the other option: if the environment is important, you must work within the framework (use angles, lines, etc.) in order to enhance the message or if you want the subject dominate the whole scene approach him, but keep in mind that the shape of this will influence the framing you are going to use. The decision is yours. Dare to take it!

Making the right decision will not be a problem after reading the following articles: “16 Ways to Give Protagonism to Your Subjects” and after analyzing the photographs of the “Weekly Challenge 53: Fill in the Frame”.

Fill the framing

2-Work the location of the elements:

The decision to place your subjects in one or another place within the frame is fundamental. Whether you fill the frame with it or not, the place you assign inside it must be pleasant for the viewer, that is, its position must be in harmony with the rest of the scene.

In photography, arranging the elements present in a particular scene within the frame is known as “composing the photo”. Artistic compositions, whether in painting or photography, are based on mathematical rules, proportions and methods that are “pleasing” to the eye. These rules will help you to guide the viewer’s gaze towards those points of the frame that, by visual instinct, are of greater interest and that if you know how to exploit them, you will go from taking a mere photo to capturing an excellent photograph.

If you want to become a teacher in it, be sure to read “9 Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Photographic Composition” . But as they say there “The rules are to be broken”, so once you master them, do not be afraid, transgressing them is also an art .

The smaller your subject, the more important its location will be

3-Divide the frame:

At the moment of arranging the elements within the frame, you have endless possibilities, as many as you can think of, although not all of them are as interesting and attractive in the eyes of the spectator.

The most interesting divisions within the frame are those that allow establishing a well-defined relationship between them. These divisions of the frame make reference to the proportion that each element occupies within the frame and to the way in which they must be located to achieve the greatest visual impact but without breaking the harmony of the photograph.

Do not worry, you should not make a square and a compass to take your photos, just train your eyes so that it becomes familiar with the different proportions that you can use when making your photos. Some of the best known proportions are:

• Golden ratio: this proportion is a guide that will allow you to arrange the elements inside the frame in a very harmonious and pleasant way. This type of proportion, being permanently present in nature, will allow you to obtain very natural photographs that generate “comfort” in your viewers. If you did not know it, do not worry, consent or not, constantly compose your photos using these proportions as it is very intuitive and natural.

Golden Ratio

• Rule of thirds: this rule is one of the most basic rules when it comes to arranging the elements within your frames. It consists of dividing the frame into three equal thirds horizontally and vertically. In this way, 4 imaginary points will be formed at the intersections of the lines, which are the strong points of interest within a photograph. As you can see, the center despite being the obvious place in which one would place an element within the frame, is not one of the points of greatest interest for the view within the frame.

Rule of thirds

4- Locate the horizon in the frame:

The position of the horizon line within the frame is more important than you can imagine. Depending on the height you assign, a photograph can convey one or another sensation depending on the other elements present in the scene. A very high horizon line (smaller portion of the sky) will give greater importance and weight to everything that is below it, and on the contrary, a horizon line located in a lower position, will give a greater sense of stability , functioning as a “base” and balancing the frame.

In any case, the exact position of the horizon depends on many other factors such as: balancing the photograph according to the brightness and colors of the sky (see example of the framing point), the attractiveness of the sky above the ground, the dynamics total scene thanks to clouds and their shapes, contrast, foreground elements, etc. Everything will depend on the circumstances of the photograph, the message you want to convey and, above all, your personal taste.

The high horizon focuses attention on the rocks

5- Frame within a frame:

There is a rule in photography that almost ensures success: “the pictures inside pictures”, that is, not only take advantage of the edges of the picture, but also inside, again framing another scene. By drawing a new border around the main image, you will create a very attractive internal frame that will give the viewer the feeling of organization, stability, order and control. This new limit prevents the image from “reaching” the edges of the outer limit (photo). This new framework will further focus the viewer’s gaze on what is within it.

Frames inside frames

What are you waiting for to get the juice out of your frames? If you liked the article, do not hesitate to comment and share it! Thank you!

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