Using Framing to Add Depth to Your Composition

Framing is an age-old composition trick that photographers have been using for centuries. While sometimes the framing in a photo is straightforward and obvious, other times it’s more subtle and subconscious. Let’s look at some of the ways in which a photographer can use framing to add depth to composition:

Windows and Doorways
This is probably the most obvious way to add a frame. It’s also the most cliché, but I still can’t help but like the look of it. Usually framing your composition through a window yields a contrasty scene, requiring the use of HDR to bring out the full dynamic range.

Peering in at the Ruins

Water Tower and Apartment Building in Syracuse, NY

What Great View...Before You Drop!

A Look Through Cunningham Cabin

Foliage is another popular way to frame a photo. I especially like it when used it conjunction with a wide angle lens; having the foliage creep into the top of the frame often adds character to an uninspiring sky.

Hathorn Spring Under Luscious Fall Foliage

The Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park

A Morning Workout Under the Fall Foliage

Arches and Open Air Structures
Just like windows and doorways, arches and outdoor structures offer another easy way to frame a subject. Remember that the whole structure does not have to appear in the photo in order to frame it, but sometimes it can.

Fishy Hall of Springs

Yellowstone Tour Van

Peerless & Governor Springs

Fences are a less common way to frame photos. As many styles as there are of fences, there are ways to frame photos with them. You can isolate one part of the fence to frame the photo, or you can use the whole fence as a frame.

Soulful Gaze

Tall Buildings
Tall buildings can also be used to frame photos, similarly to the way foliage can. When used with a wide angle or fisheye lens, the buildings have the appearance of curving in towards the center of the image.

The Peninsula

Frame Within a Frame
Multiple framing elements mean multiple layers of interest. Combining an arch with some foliage makes for a great frame within a frame.

Entering Waterfront Park

Yaddo Gate

Really anything can be used as a frame, if you’re clever enough to compose it properly. Before you compose your next shot, think about how you can add a framing element to make it more interesting.

Casey Admiring the Christmas Tree

EPCOT - Palm Trees Surround the Glowing Fountain of Nations

All photos in this post are © Samantha Decker and may not be used without permission.


  1. That ToT picture - fantastic!!!

  2. Great shoots! Depth of field, separating your subject from the background, greatly affects on the frame composition. Thinking about composition, always consider the visual impact of the depth of field. Try soft for editing your pics


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