Top 6 ways to creatively frame your photography subject

Post by
Ruth Stephensen
Top 6 ways to creatively frame your photography subject

Framing isn't just for finished art work - it is also a clever way to compose your image before you take it. Whether are you are photographing people, places or objects, there are many creative techniques you can to draw your viewers eye right to your subject.

If you create content for brands this is an essential photography composition technique to master because all marketers want their product to be the centre of attention in your shot.

Creative framing can help add drama and impact, set the scene and balance the hierarchy and aesthetics of your image. A frame doesn't have to be a traditional box or hard edge, you can frame your image with organic shapes or any type of line that helps visually direct your composition.

Here are our top creative ways you can frame your photography subject for more impact:

Using kitchen items such as trays, plates and boards

This is one of the easiest and most effective framing techniques you can use in your images. Plates, trays and other types of serving ware make excellent frames for photographing table top or flatlay scenes. Simply by placing the items you wish to photograph inside a larger item and shooting from above you can create an instant framing effect for your image.

circular ice filled tray with hands reaching for icecreams
Using a wooden tray to creatively frame a photo of icecream. Photo for Magnum by Creatively Squared

It doesn't have to be just for food or kitchen related photography, other household items like clipboards, books and linens can be used to achieve the same effect. Think about how you can contrast the size, colour and shape of your subject with the background prop you are using to frame it.

table set for dinner with bottle of red wine laid on yellow table runner
Creative wine bottle framing with contrasting table runner. Photo for Petaluma wines by Creatively Squared

Creating a frame with flowers, food or other objects

Arranging a collection of complementary items to form an edge or arc around your subject is an eye catching way to showcase the hero of your image. This technique is very popular in product styling because it allows you to add context to the item you are styling while adding visually pleasing elements to your image.

healthfood supplement surrounded by kale, kiwi, strawberries, chia and almonds
Branded visual content created for Global Nature Australia, styled and photographed by Creatively Squared

Your frame doesn't have to be a square or rectangular shape it can be any arrangement of objects or decorative elements that help showcase the hero of your image.

can of deodorant surrounded by scattered roses and florals
can of deodorant surrounded by scattered roses and dried petals
Framing two ways using florals. Photos for Rexona by Creatively Squared

Using Negative Space

Leaving large areas of your image intentionally blank is a great way to draw your viewers attention right to the focal point of your shot. By adjusting the hierarchy of the elements within your photo you can make even the smallest object stand out.

bar soap and washcloth on bathroom counter
Using negative space and contrast to highlight a product. Photo for The Goat Skincare by Creatively Squared

The 'hero' of your shot doesn't have to be the largest element of your image. With clever framing you can create an elegant composition where your subject can still shine without dominating your photo.

baby soap and brush on wicker tray
Creative visual content for The Baby Goat Skincare styled and photographed by Creatively Squared

Working with shapes found at home or in architecture

In your own home windows, doorways, shelving or even baths can make great frames for composing your image. Taking advantage of existing shapes in your house and neighbourhood is a simple and effective way to frame your shot. Look around and see what shapes you can find in the structure of your home and also in your furniture.

coffee skin scrub on window sill with vase of flowers
Coffee Scrub framed by windowsill. Product styled and photographed for Cafe Skin Scrub by Creatively Squared

Using buildings and their framework is also a very impactful way to photograph people and places. There are so many amazing architectural shapes out there in the world, look for shapes, contrasting colours and interesting elements of the places you go that you can use to create more drama and highlight the focal point of your photo.

woman applying moisturiser sitting on edge of bath
Framed on the bath edge. Photographed for Aveeno by Creatively Squared


Reflecting your subject using glass or mirrors

You can neatly frame your photography subject within a mirror or reflection. This technique allows you to compactly display a portion or your shot within the existing frame of your reflective object.

girl cleaning teeth with pink toothbrush holding childrens toothpaste
Creatively framing a product in use in the mirror. Visual content created for Signal by Creatively Squared
mother and son cleaning teeth at bathroom sink reflected in mirror
Using a mirror to capture your subject. Styled and photographed for Signal by Creatively Squared

On a larger scale you could even use the other half of the reflection to complete the frame and completely surround your subject matter. Think about what half a frame might look like and how to continue the effect on a reflective surface.

archways of building reflected onto ground

Looking through a phone or glass

Framing your photograph through a looking glass, your phone or viewfinder can put an interesting twist on your image. Some glass items even reflect your image upside-down which can add a surprising and whimsical element to your photo.

looking through a mobile phone screen at an image of a beer on palm leaves
Creatively framing a beer photograph using a mobile phone screen for Tiger. Content created by Creatively Squared.

At home you could experiment with photographing through a fishbowl, vase or wine glass - even your reading glasses could make an intriguing frame for your shot.

looking through a glass ball at a plane wreck

Using a traditional frame

Traditional rectangular shapes or picture frames themselves can be used in creative ways to compose a visually interesting images.

yellow frame with tubes and candy on a pink tile backdrop
Using a traditional photo frame to highlight Pure Paw Paw product. Styled and photographed by Creatively Squared.

Use an old photo frame or create frame shapes out of tape or other household items. This is a really cheap and effective way to frame your shot and can be used on horizontal and vertical surfaces.

colourful frames created with patterned washi tape with tubes of paw paw cream inside
Fun coloured washi tape framing effect. Image for Pure Paw Paw by Creatively Squared

Alternatively you could arrange boxes or trays to get the same effect as a photo frame, this will create more depth to your image and allow you to consider more angles and orientations for your photo.

wine bottle and glass of red wine with walnuts framed inside a wooden crate
Styling framing using a wooden crate. Photo for St Hallett by Creatively Squared

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