Using a Frame Within a Frame for Stronger Compositions in Your Photography

When it comes to creating striking compositions, one of the most effective means is to place your subject — or even just a key part of it — within an area of negative space. This frame-within-a-frame technique is something that photographers often learn by accident, but this video gives you a few pointers on what to look for and how to achieve it.

For me, one of the true masters of this technique was Henri Cartier-Bresson. You only need to take a quick look at a Google Images search results page to see countless examples of the legendary HCB deploying this trick, and one of my particular favorites is his image entitled Hyères, France, an image that encapsulates what Carter-Bresson called “the decisive moment.” Paired with the clean minimalist style and the simplicity of black and white, HCB’s use of sub-framing sometimes makes him seem more like a graphic designer than a photographer.

Starting out as a photographer, creating frames within frames was something that I stumbled upon inadvertently, photographing parkour on the streets of London and realizing that the most striking shots were of a clean outline of the body against the sky, or framed by a blank wall. Feel free to share your best sub-framing shots in the comments below.

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