Framing a Scene In Photographing Your Child

Framing a scene consists of using something, natural or manmade, to surround a subject or at least come in from one or both sides, and (or) the top. Framing allows you to look through one object (the framing) to see another (the subject).
When first using framing, many photographers make the common mistake of not getting close enough to the subject. If the subject is too far from the frame, it gets lost inside the frame.

Look For Objects

Once you start looking for object to use for framing, you will see them all over. Natural framing can include overhanging tree branches, a gap between two boulders, a natural arch, etc. Man-made framing might be a doorway, an open window or the opening of a covered slide at the park.

Mask Unwanted Elements

Framing naturally narrows the field-of-view by drawing viewers’ eyes through the frame and to the subject. You can also use framing to mask unwanted elements in a scene, such as power lines, waste receptacles, litter or anything distracting attention away from the subject.

For a different style of framing, try shooting flowers from their height. Visualize your child sitting in a field of flowers and leaning forward to smell one of them. What a great shot! To capture this with framing, kneel down to the height of the flowers and find an opening between two flowers. Focus on your child and the flower he/she is smelling. Select a small f-stop number for a very narrow depth-of-field. Using the Rule of Thirds and Focus Lock, capture the image.

The flowers in front and to the sides of the camera will be out of focus while your child and flower he/she is smelling will be in focus. These out-of-focus flowers serve as a framing device thereby drawing the eyes to the focused subject. Remember, the eye always goes what is in focus – the subject.

Direction Of Light

With framing, the direction of light is very important. If you are shooting with the sun to your back – front lighting – the light will illuminate both the frame and subject. If the sun is from either side – cross lighting – or coming from the back of the subject – back lighting – then your subject is illuminated, but the frame will remain a silhouette.
Generally, it is better to spot meter your subject so it will be properly exposed and let the exposure of the frame fall where it may. Remember, if shooting into the sun, don’t risk overexposure or eye damage by looking into the sun. Meter your subject without the sun in the viewfinder.

Another consideration when framing a subject is asking yourself if this shot is better framed vertically or horizontally. Long, tall subjects, such as children, tend to look better framed vertically.


Framing adds a sense of scale to a subject. By using something for a frame that most people can associate with, as far as the size of the framing object, the size of the subject, or how far away the subject is from the camera, becomes apparent. Without a framing object of a known size to relate to, the size, or distance of the subject is harder to determine.

Add framing as a tool to your photographer’s toolbox. Learn how to use it and start creating vibrant, exciting photographs of your child. Enjoy!

Professional Photographer

Professional Photographer

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