What does Fill the Frame in photography mean?
Basically, the frame refers to the edges of your photograph or the edges of the viewfinder of your camera when you are taking a picture.
Composing an image using this basic photography technique means to get in close, to make your subject a significant portion of the final photograph.
Take a look at the fill the frame photo ideas below to illustrate this compositional technique.
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CAMERA GEAR FOR LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY
We use a Camera Gear Checklist to help us pack all the equipment we need – that way we don’t foget anything!
We recommend the following camera equipment for taking landscape photos:
1. Camera: You probably already have one, but if you’re looking for something new → check out the compact travel cameras we recommend!
2. Tripod: Using a tripod is something we’ll always recommend. There are many compact and lightweight options out there that are easy to use. → Check out the tripods we recommend!
3. Camera Bag: Protecting your camera from sand and water is essential. Using a camera backpack is so nice for hiking too. → Check out our camera backpack for outdoor photography.
4. Neutral density filter: There can be extreme differences in light when taking landscape pictures. To compensate for this variance of light you’ll need to use a neutral density filter. → Check out the Kase magnetic filters we use!
5. Camera cleaning kit: You’ll want a field cleaning kit to remove dust or water that WILL get on your lens. NOTE: this is not for cleaning the sensor. → This is the camera cleaning kit we use!
7. External hard drive: Don’t forget to copy the photos to a portable external hard drive ‘just in case’. → Check out these awesome portable external hard drives.
8. Headlamp: For the best sunrise shots, you want to arrive at your designated location well before the sun rises. Most of the time this means total darkness. Use a flashlight or headlamp to light your way from the parking lot to your spot. Wearing a headlamp allows you to set up your equipment without having to hold a flashlight. Remember to use the red light setting and keep the beam pointed on the ground in front of you to avoid disrupting other photographers in the area taking long exposure shots. → Check out these headlamps with the red light!
Photo Examples Using Fill the Frame
First, learn all about using the fill the frame technique for landscape photography.
Take a look at the fill the frame photo ideas shared by members of our Facebook Group, Your Photography Journey to illustrate this compositional technique.
WATCH the video as we discuss how filling the frame is used in each image.
Fill the Frame Photo Ideas
Fill the frame encourages you to take time thinking about your subject and how best to feature that subject in your photograph.
How can you bring attention to the subject, details or patterns that provide impact?
How does the background add to or take away from the story that you are trying to tell?
In this photo by Tony Kendrick, he filled the frame with fireworks.
He composed the shot to zoom in on the bursts of light. And purposely let the streaks of color move off the edges of the picture.
Filling the frame this way provides immediate attention to the subject in this photo.
There is no doubt what the subject is in this photo taken by Melanie Loughery.
One of the best ways to get close to the subject is by moving your feet! Melanie used her feet to get close to the truck, as well as find the best angle or perspective.
As she walked around, Melanie selected the view or angle that best represented the subject in her eyes at the scene.
Cindy Shaffer found an interesting part of the pine tree to focus on for the picture she took below.
The viewer can easily see the pinecones in the photo because Cindy got the camera close to those parts of the tree.
She filled the frame with a part of the tree, and in doing so, the viewer’s attention immediately goes to the pinecones in the photo.
When we talk about getting close to fill the frame, focusing on a single part of the subject is what Melissa Jean Salisbury did in this photo.
Filling the picture with one single leaf makes it easy to know what the subject is.
Getting close enough to the leaf for it to take up most of the space in the photo also allows the viewer to see the color variations, patterns and water drop details.
Get Even Closer
Jay Hasson got even CLOSER to the subject so only a part of the leaves was included in the frame.
Do you see how the lines of the leaves and drops of water are even MORE prominent here?
Jay chose to make this a black and white image which also helps accentuate the contrast between the lighter and darker elements in the picture.
And Delaney Van got RIGHT up to the leaf in this photo! Now that’s darn close!
In this picture, she filled the frame with a very small section of the leaf, so the focus is all on the water droplets. It’s also important to note that Delaney composed the drops to be in the upper left corner using the rule of thirds technique.
Frame the Subject
Another reason to use this technique is to frame the subject like Bonnie Melnichenko did in this photo.
She framed most of the Epcot ball to fit within the scope of the image. There is no doubt what the subject of this photo is here.
By filling the picture this way, the patterns and colors are brought forward to create interest for the viewer.
Jeff Hall wanted the focus of this photo to be two specific parts of the bicycle.
He accomplished this by filling the frame with the two parts. The other, less emphasized parts of the bicycle can still be seen, but they aren’t the main focus.
The surrounding elements aren’t distracting, and help tell the story of this picture.
James Carro draws attention to the girl and dog in this photo by using the fill the frame technique.
James composed the picture with the most important parts of the subject: the girl and the dog looking at the girl. The dog’s face is what’s most important here, so there was no need to include more in this photo.
Notice the contrast of darks and lights in the image when he turned it into a black and white photo!
You Can Leave Room
When you Fill the Frame, you don’t need to fill it completely all the way to the edge.
Leaving a bit of room for details will add context to the story, just as James Griffin did here.
He included the road as a foreground element which leads the eye to the bridge, and helps tell the story of a road traveling through the bridge in the country.
Mel Simpson included ‘just enough’ room at the top of this photo to help tell the story.
She was intentional in what was included in the frame. The spanned wings are the most important element here and they fill the horizontal width of the photo.
The other birds at the top and in the background of this image add to the story of this location.
In the picture by Jan Irons below, she selected the part of the bridge with the most impact.
This part of the bridge highlights the diminishing perspective of the lines and patterns as it moves through the photo.
Jan showcases depth by filling the frame with this element of the subject.
Ella Deaver was selective in what she included in this photo below.
The bird fills most of the frame, but the water that’s surrounding the bird is an important element to tell more of the story.
Adding the bit of reflection at the bottom helps to ‘ground’ the bird so it doesn’t look like a floating subject.
Be Aware of the Background
To help the subject stand out, it’s best to eliminate all distractions in the background. You can move or change your angle so the distraction is no longer in the frame.
If the background is busy, use a wide aperture to blur it so the subject stands out. Creating a bokeh is good especially if the background elements add to the story of the photo
In these two photos below by Goldhara McKay, the main subject stands out from the background.
She made sure the cactus and rabbit are perfectly in focus, while the background is blurred.
The background elements don’t distract from the subject in the photo, but rather they are a secondary element that helps the viewer know more about the setting.
Were you inspired by these photos?
Every week in our Facebook group (Your Photography Journey), we have a challenge that focuses on an element of composition. Understanding these simple elements will help you improve your photography skills!
→ DOWNLOAD our 52 Week Photography Challenge List!
We also do live video Photo Reviews each week to discuss compositional elements on the photos group members want us to review, similar to the video we included in this article.