Week 11 - Use natural frames in photos to direct attention to your subject

Travel down New Orleans' historic St. Charles Avenue, and you will find hundreds of mansions framed by majestic southern live oak trees.

"The Jewel of America's Grand Avenues" provides an abundance of opportunities to practice the composition technique called natural frames or a frame within a frame.

A St. Charles Avenue mansion photographed using natural frames.

In any photo, your viewer wants to know what is most important. You can make your subject stand out by framing it with another element in the picture. 

Creating a frame can help lead your viewers' eyes to your focal point. In some cases, it can give them a path to follow to your intended destination. In other cases, your frame provides a border around the subject, telling your viewers that the most important part of the image is within these boundaries.

This is a technique often found on postcards and works well for travel photography establishing shots.

Many times you will find your natural frame in the foreground, but you can also use background elements as frames. Notice how the background feature of the ceiling arcs over the barrel.

Using the frame can help focus the eyes when there are potentially distracting items. You might not be sure that we are focusing on the bulldozer without the frame to direct your eyes.


The Challenge

Use a frame within a frame to lead your viewers or help them focus on your subject.


Share your images with us

Once you have a great photo, post it in the comments here or tag it #composition21 when you post it on Twitter or Flickr. Note: Just post the link to your photo, and the system will generate your preview icon.


Join the Composition Challenge

Sign up to join the 21-Week Composition Challenge. Every week, I'll deliver a photo challenge by email for you to shoot and share. Learn more about it or sign up below.

Note: St. Charles Avenue is one of the many photo excursions destinations during our New Orleans Experience Photo Tours & Sightseeing Excursions.


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