Weekly Photo Tip #2: Fill The Frame — Make Your Subject Larger

One of the easiest thing a beginning photographer can do to dramatically improve her photography is to “fill the frame.”

That means to make your subject large. When you look through your camera’s viewfinder, you want to see mostly subject, not extraneous things.

Here is an example . . .

Cows Eating


[As always at this site, click on the photo for the full effect.]

After taking the first photo, I realized that the photo I wanted was of the brown cow closest to me, so I zoomed in on that cow and “filled the frame.” Doesn’t the second photo have much more impact than the first?

How do you fill the frame?

Basically, you have three choices:

  1. Move closer to your subject. Move your feet and get as close as necessary to fill the frame with your subject.

  2. Zoom in. Without moving, you can accomplish the same thing by zooming in on your subject, assuming of course that you have a lens that zooms.

  3. Crop your shots later. You can fill the frame by cropping tightly around your subject when you edit your photos at home after you have taken them. While this works, it should be your last choice since editing down to a small part of a large picture and then enlarging that small part will lead to degradation of your picture.

Final Thoughts On Filling The Frame

  1. This is particularly important when taking photos of people. You want to be able to see the person’s facial features.

  2. Don’t be afraid to get really close. I’ve seen many stunning portraits that just show part of the subject’s face. You do NOT have to include every part of a person or object for the photo to be complete. There is no reason why you cannot chop off part of the subject, as long as you include the key parts. The cow picture above is an example. I cut off the cow’s hind end but I think the photo still works because it is about the cow’s eyes.

  3. Check the background. Even after you get close to your subject, there will probably be some background. Before pressing the shutter release, scan your photo and make sure there in nothing else in the frame that detracts from your subject. A good example of this is the tree right behind your subject which appears to be growing out of his head.

  4. When in doubt, move closer.


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