Three Basic Photography Concepts for Defining a Subject

By | 8:14 PM

photographer practicing tight framing

The subject must be prominent in a photograph and easily recognized by the viewer. The viewer does not want to be searching around the picture to find the intended subject. Directing attention to where you want it in a photo can be done by detaching the subject from the background and the unnecessary elements that can distract the viewer. A few simple methods are described below that can help you emphasize the subject in your photography:
  1. You can make tight framing on the subject being photographed which will result in many of the background elements being removed from the scene minimizing the risk of your subject being lost. If you have a zoom lens you can make a tight frame with it from a distance of your targeted subject. With a fixed lens you will need to get up close to your subject to “magnify” it. You will notice that by tight framing, the detail in your subject is greatly enhanced and will draw the viewer’s eyes.
  2. A second method to draw better attention to a subject is to walk around it until you find the simplest background. The background must be in opposite contrast with the subject to create a good visibility between the two. A simple background without disorderly elements or too many distracting colors is recommended for both portrait photography and for other objects or scenes being photographed. If there is not an appropriate background around your subject, then you can simply try to change the camera view angle to a lower or higher position to discover the right background such as a blue sky, green grass or even leaf foliage.  Sometimes you may provide your own background if it is possible in the given circumstances.
  3. Framing is a technique that photographers can use to direct the viewer's attention to the subject of the scene. Many elements or even people can be positioned around the subject to create a frame within the image area. Separating the subject from the rest of the image using a frame will accentuate it more clearly. For example, you can frame a broad landscape between some trees rather than taking a picture with an over-simplified and boring composition. It is important that the elements used as frames do not distract the viewer's attention from the subject. If the framing elements relate to the image theme the effect will be more pleasant. Framing correctly can create an illusion of depth or a sense of the image being in 3D. Besides all the aforementioned pluses to framing a photograph, it is a technique often used for hiding unwanted details in the background or foreground of a picture. 


A photographer can define what is visually striking about a particular photo subject by utilizing tight framing to get closer, controlling and manipulating the background and using complementary elements to create a frame within the picture. Everything that is around us can be the subject of a photograph. Photographers should search and select a clear composition that will transmit a message.  If properly done an image can touch a viewer emotionally.



© Rebecca H Knight, images and media used are my own or © their respective owners. All rights reserved.


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