Filling the Frame
There is no better way of eliminating the clutter from your photograph than to fill the frame. It gives great impact to your composition as it definitely leaves no doubt in the viewer’s eyes what the focus or subject is.
There’s an old saying by Robert Capa, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough". Two methods come to mind on getting close enough, move in with your feet or use a telephoto lens.
Filling the frame seems to be most effective when used with macro, portraits, patterns, repetitions and textures. This adds to your composition by leaving out all of the distractions and allowing your subject to be the only attraction. If it doesn’t add to your photograph, leave it out.
When using the composition tool of filling the frame you don't have to be as concerned with distractions such as noisy backgrounds but you need to be careful with tight framing as it can become quickly boring.
To prevent excessive use of filling the frame you can try adding a little context to the frame by adding something that identifies with the subject.
Ask yourself three questions before adding something in your frame.
1. Does it add context to the subject?
2. Will cropping add to the subject?
3. Will the added element or elements distract from the subject?
If you find yourself too close, compose and shoot first, then back-up. You might be surprised and pleased at what you capture. Remember it’s okay to crop, better to be able to crop later than to find out you should have left more room in your photograph.
Portraiture is just one area where filling the frame can shine. Don’t be scared of cutting off limbs or the tops of heads. A good thing to remember is to try avoiding cutting off limbs at the joints such as elbows, knees, ankles, and hands. It just isn’t pleasing.
Filling the frame is just another powerful tool for great composition. When appropriate it really stands out, when overused it quickly becomes boring. And it’s probably not recommended for stuff like landscapes, an example being the Grand Canyon.
I hope you enjoyed this issue in the Composition series and find it useful in your photography. Please leave a comment if you liked or even if and what you disliked. Any input is appreciated and will be kept confidential if requested.
Stay tuned for the next installment in the Composition Elements series, Aspect Ratios. Sounds boring but surprisingly it has great impact on your final composition.