What is Composition and Framing in Photography?

Updated: Aug 15, 2021

If you’re a beginner, then you’ve heard the word composition and framing a lot. And even if you’re little bit into it, you know a good composition and framing is eye-catching. It helps the photograph look more beautiful or mature. It makes the image appealing and satisfying. But what is composition and framing and how would you make it use for your advantage?

So what is framing? Framing is just where you put your subjects with relation to the background. And where you want your viewer to look first when they see your click. So in a sense, framing is simply a technique to draw focus. Even in videos, framing works in similar ways. As it is just collection of frames. You’ve heard 24 fps, 60 fps or 120 fps, right? It means 1 second video of a 24 fps video is collection of 24 frames. And that’s your YouTube video. Higher the fps, slower the video is, because in a second, there is more frames and when that 60 fps video is processed in 24 fps, it slows down.

Now what is relationship of frame with composition. Let’s say, if frame is the plate, then composition is the food you put on it. And if the food tastes great, you feel full; similarly if the composition is great, you say, “oh, that’s an awesome picture”.

There is no such rules in photography as creativity is thinking outside of the box. But you have to know the 6 rules of composition and it will help you lots. It helped me lot when I started and it still is part of what I capture now.

1. The Rule of Thirds

This is one of the most basic rule for clicking and framing your composition. The principal behind rule of third is to imagine the image breaking down in grids of thirds. So horizontally and vertically, it’ll have 9 parts.

Now if you put your image in the first intersection it third intersection rather than keeping it in the middle, it’ll look more aesthetically pleasing to the eyes.

2. Leading Lines

Leading lines is directing your viewers in a specific way using subjects in the composition. The lines will help the viewer focus towards the main subject or even if there is no subject. Leading lines itself will help you to create stunning images.

Photo by Alexei Stepanov

3. Symmetry

Symmetry is mainly about patterns. In a sense it’s contradictory to rule of thirds but that is the fun in photography right? Symmetry looks good with making it center of the image. It works very well with architectural photography, reflection, patterns. It’s just works when both half of the image has same weight.

Cloisters Sun Stream by Simon Costello

4. The Golden Ratio

I think this is the most creative and critical at the same time. If you’ve seen golden ratio guide, then you’ve noticed a spiral and you’ll also see rectangle. And you need to put your subject in the center of the spiral. This is most pleasing to the eye as it is supposed to be perfectly balanced.

5. Fill the Frame

As the name suggests, it is just filling the while frame with the subject. The subject you want to capture fills up the entire frame. There would be no negative spaces. With close up, you’ll feel more close to the subject and you can significantly focus on ‘story’ in the image with what the subject is doing or anything like that.

From Violeta Tesic

6. Center Dominant Eye

And this is as the name suggests also. Just place the eye, or rather the dominant eye at center of the frame. It gives a great impression in portrait photography or framing a close up. Also it helps in documenting character.

Photo by Steve McCurry

That’s enough of an article for today guys. Go out, shoot, improvise and be creative. Peace out.

A good read: Composition Rules & Tips for Photography

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