How to Use a Natural Frame in Your Photography

Posted on 1 February 2020

Natural Frame

Natural frames are everywhere and very useful. They can add depth, contrast, structure and even a sense of mystery to your photos. Why, then, do natural frames so often go unused by photographers?

Not all of us know what natural frames are, how to spot them, and how to make them even better. In this post, we’ll tell you what you need to know to get started using natural frames.

What is a Natural Frame?

A natural frame is an object you use to frame your subject. For example, a doorway is a common frame. You might include the doorway, or parts of it, in your photo of a bed in a bedroom, for example. In fact, depending on where you’re reading this, that’s an exercise you can try right now.

A door frame is far from the only natural frame you can find. In fact, in one way or another, anything you might take a photo of could be a frame for another subject. But here are some common natural frames to get you started:

  • Nature: The branch of a tree might frame your picture of a bird. You might use the horizon, or the edge of a lake to frame a boat or a frog. There are many natural framing opportunities in nature.

– Architecture: Doorways, pillars, windows, fences, and all manner of architectural features are great natural framing opportunities.

– Shadows/light: Lines of light and blobs of shadow can be transformed into great natural frames if you position your photo right.

– Other objects: As we mentioned, most other objects can be natural frames in the right circumstances. Try looking for circular objects to start—they’re easy to frame with.

How to Find Natural Frames

It may sound simple, but practicing looking for natural frames is the best way to find them more consistently. The next time you have your camera out, challenge yourself to find a few natural frames. Keep going, and keep returning to the idea of natural frames, especially when you find new places to take photos.

That, or you can look through the galleries of other photographers are get inspired by what they’re using as a natural frame. Check out our latest and greatest gallery to see if you spot some natural framing opportunities we took.

Playing with Natural Frames

So, you’ve found a natural frame. Great! Now, what should you do with it? As with composing any photo, you have a lot of choice in how you’ll incorporate a natural frame. Here are a few ways you can play with the concept:

– Focus: Try keeping the frame in sharp focus or soft focus.

– Background: Most frames are kept in the foreground, but they can work in the background too.

– Less is better: Try having your frame only cover one, two, or three sides of the photo, not all four.

Learn More Techniques from Jim and Lori

If you’re finding our blog useful, we think you’ll love joining us on our next Workshop or Photo Tour!


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