How To Take Excellent Photos By Effectively Framing Your Shots

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When you visit a famous monument — whether it’s the Eiffel Tower or the giant acorn that sits in my hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina — it’s hard to snap a satisfactory photo. There’s always an obstacle. You might have to dodge another photographer, seek out lighting if you can’t use flash, or wait while others pose in front of your frame.

I often strive to snap pictures of landmarks that make them look different than all of the pictures I’ve seen of them before. This post will teach you the technique of effectively framing your shots to do just that! Framing is a technique which brings focus to your image’s subject by blocking off unnecessary parts of the photo with something else in the scene.

It’s not hard to come up with good frames for your snaps; you’ve just got to be creative! People will often frame their photos by shooting through windows, between tree branches or doorways, for example.

I previously wrote a piece on how Instagram filters helped me correct the brightness of my photos without actually editing them. The first photo I shared was of the Puerta de Alcalá, an archway that once served as a grandiose gate to Madrid. It’s beautiful, even from an angle that’s face on.

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I have to cut myself a little slack, because that photo was taken from a cab. I didn’t have many options when it came to finding a new angle for the picture, lest I ask my driver to circle the roundabout a few times for me to get the shot I wanted. So that weekend, when I walked past the Puerta again, I knew what I had to do.

At one end of the roundabout that encircles the Puerta is the Parque del Retiro, another landmark I mentioned in my previous post. As I entered the Parque, I noticed its huge, rectangular gates. Their intricate ironwork just so happened to open facing the Puerta. Hmmm…

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Just like that, my photo had a completely new point of view. I had to wait a couple of seconds to grab this shot, as there are also cars zooming around the Puerta at all hours, so I also waited for a break in traffic. Normally, I’d also wait for all of the pedestrians to pass, too, but I like the pensive couple I caught here.

This photo is infinitely more interesting to the eye now that the gigantic piece of architecture is framed by an equally interesting piece of ironwork. As you can see, framing this photo helped to give it context through the gates of the Parque Del Retiro (which also gives you a sense of the lovely Spanish architecture around!) It adds extra dimension to the shot, as well as focusing the viewer’s eye on the main focal point.

As I delved deeper into my exploration of the park, I happened upon the Palacio de Cristal. This gorgeous building was built in 1887 for to house flora and fauna brought to Spain from the Philippines.

Inside, though, all I could feel was confused as I tried to find a focus for my photos. With sun glowing through its many windows, I found it difficult to anchor my photo. Check out one of my poorer attempts:

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No framing, no focus.

The reason I didn’t love this photo is because I think it would be hard for someone unfamiliar with the building to understand what they were looking at. After a few minutes of snapping pictures, I found my frame: the columns that support the Palacio’s glass ceilings.

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The columns on both sides of this photo help to frame my shot magnificently (and reduce surrounding noise.)

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As you can see here, your frame can only anchor one side of the photo and still draw your attention to the main subject.

In these images, viewers know exactly where to focus. Even if they’re not sure exactly of the purpose of this building, they can see the highlights of its structure: arched windows; tall, domed ceilings; and lush views of the surrounding thick of trees.

How have you used the framing technique in your everyday photography? Let us know about it in the comments below!

Andrea graduated from the University of North Carolina, where she studied journalism and once saw Michael Jordan at a bar. She's currently teaching English in Spain, writing about her experiences, and snapping as many photos of her travels as she possibly can.

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