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Framing things up!

January 19th, 2011  |  Published in Featured, Shoot  |  1 Comment

Framing the subject is one of my favorite photographic devices. Not only does it provide visual  layers in the image and make for a more interesting composition, it also is an opportunity to add more information to the image. As a photojournalist, I often stack information in a photo to tell as much of the story as possible in one frame.

When I worked for the newspaper, I was responsible for writing the cutlines under my photo. I found it incredibly helpful to stand in the scene I was photographing and compose the story in my head. Who, what where when why. If I can compose a story of the moment in words, sometimes I can figure out a good vantage point. “Bride gets ready in hotel room moments before her ceremony.” Great! Let’s grab this shot.

It’s got the bride, getting ready activity, the hotel room number, and a crack in the door. The photo shows the bride engrossed in her activities and hints at her imminent departure. It conveys place, time, subject and purpose.

A detail of the bride’s dress includes the bride almost ready, in the mirror, talking with her mom.

This next bride, at a wedding I shot with Jamie Wexler, had asked for a photo in a particular bed of ferns. I heard “These ferns are important to me”, so the photo of the bride also became a photo of the ferns.  I laid down on the ground and positioned a fern in the foreground over her head.

While this next shot isn’t technically “framed”, using more of a split screen effect, it does feature layered information.  A completely dedicated ski-dad practices the father-daughter-dance  right behind his wall of ski gear. If this family had just happened to be renting a ski house, but weren’t skiers themselves, I may have grabbed some detail shots of the ski gear, to honor the environment, but I wouldn’t have worked nearly as hard to create a meaningful shot. To the bride and her father, it probably didn’t look like the camera was aimed at them; I was shooting directly into the corner of the wall.

Sometimes framing includes the texture of the environment. This is a wedding I shot with Joe Ciarcia. I see a beautiful couple in a beautiful field and look around for something to get behind or a hole to shot through. It also helped me get rid of Joe. He’s three feet away from the couple. I’m shooting through a hole in the fence.

A wedding in a tent means that the tent is the venue. If the tent is a beautiful tent, then I’m going to work it. Towards the end of the evening I took some time to set this shot up, positioning my external lighting in the perfect spot.  I asked the couple to come dance over in a spot on the floor. I waited a little too late in the evening to make my request and so most of the time they were in my spot, they were hugging guests good-bye. That’s okay, I had faith in my second shooter, who was covering the action inside of the tent, and I waited, loving the potential of the shot. Sure enough, the groom whipped out his signature “guns”, perfectly capturing their personalities.

Sometimes I’ll frame people with the frame behind them like this shot I took while working with Earl Christie. It’s not loaded with meaning, but it’s a great portrait that highlights their venue as well as evoking a mood.

This texture of a white picket fence will remind the couple of the place they were in on their wedding day, and makes for a more visually interesting, layered image.

I’m too vain to show you my failures, but for sure, not everything works. That’s okay, I am completely fine with that. I make sure I get the “safe shot” and then I work it to make it better. Sometimes the composition just looks heinous and I’ve make a terrible image. I have to forgive myself and keep on keeping on, or I would never try anything new. It keeps things interesting and keeps me improving.

This is a shot that could have easily failed. Instead it ended up being a fantastic ethereal image. There was tons of activity and I was sitting on the floor shooting up at a sharp angle, pretty much right under the brides elbow.  I was focused on the mirror and the bride touching up her lipstick. Already at this point, the bride is unaware of me and not worrying about “wrecking” my shot. This is good news to me. The framing, which is the bride herself, opens and closes around my target, her reflection. The scene turns perfect for a fraction of a second, I grab my shot and move on.

Being a good photographer often means putting the camera in an interesting place, it often means having patience and waiting for a great moment to happen in my carefully chosen composition. Most of the time it involves bending my knees, climbing up on something, moving to the balcony or crouching behind a fern.

~Andree Kehn – One of the many Maine Wedding Photographers documenting your day’s fun!

About Andree

Andree Kehn has written 38 post in this blog.

Andree is a fun Bethel Maine Wedding Photographer, who specializes in contemporary photojournalism. She eats shoots and leaves.



  1. Mellissa DeMIlle says:

    February 5th, 2011 at 9:47 am (#)

    Thank Andree, I have been trying to wrap my head around framing for a while, but you added meaning to it.

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