Experiment with Different Framings with Portraits - Digital Photography School

Experiment with Different Framings with Portraits

Dead-Space

In a similar way to our previous post on breaking the rule of ‘Active Space’ when photographing moving subjects – a similar technique can be used when photographing people.

When taking portraits it is customary to position your subject with more space on the side of their head where they are facing (or give them space to look into).

If your subject is looking off to one side you would generally give them a little extra room to look into. This creates balance and gives viewers of the shot a sense of where your subject is looking.

However, as we’ve found with other broken rules in this series of posts, breaking this rule can produce some eye catching shots also.

So next time you’re doing some portrait work experiment with different poses and framing. Take some shots with your subject looking directly at the camera, some with them looking to one side with more space to look into and some the other way around.

You’ll find that you’ll end up with three quite different moods in the three different framings.

This post belongs to our series on Breaking Rules of Photography.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • http://www.goldengod.net Andrew Ferguson

    I like taking portraits of people that only show part of their face. Not due to restrictions, I just like the focus on one part of someone’s face.

    It makes me think of the way I visually remember someones face; I find a distinctive element and build from there.

    It’s hard to do, though. I’m far from perfecting the technique :P

  • http://sightings.loneroad.info AC

    I like taking photo when the person is not paying attention to the camera. I generally do it on request though, people snaps are not my forte.

  • http://www.tigereyephotographs.com Jessy

    I like taking portraits of people running around, acting like their regular, normal self instead setting staged poses. This is an interesting article to learn more about different angles of taking portraits.

  • PRH

    I love this photo…it’s intriguing. Even though there is no “actual” active space in the image to the right of the woman’s face (her left), the position of her right eye, which is in sharp focus, is in the center upper third of the image and looking slightly downward. This is what is gives a perception of active space and brings harmony to the image.
    PS, loving the breaking the rules series…keep ‘em coming

  • http://www.hitkaiser.com Hitesh Sawlani (hitkaiser)

    This blog is slowly turning into digital photography spam. The amazon links within the main text is ANNOYING.

  • dewyne wainwright

    I have been experimenting and like what i’m getting

  • Jim News

    I must say I really like this picture. The best part of understanding “rules” is knowing when to break them. Well done!

  • Mushfiq Mahbub

    It’s really enjoyable to capture portraits. When one of my friend requested me to capture some photos of her brother, I took the boy with me to visit a lake (he was too nervous). At first I made fun with him, made him easy in front of my camera and then capture pictures.

    It’s a very good idea to capture the faces only. But I think, if it’s possible then one photographer should capture some flavor of the place too.(every one loves dinner but not better than a candle light dinner with his beloved person)

    Thank You.
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/50573147@N04/4644334188/' title='Picture 004' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4071/4644334188_deebbbd38d.jpg']

  • http://dsdphotography.co.za Dewan Demmer

    I have a lot of trouble with framing, close up of people, if it can squint at me I somehow have trouble get the framing right … landscape and puddle … no problem

  • ed duarte

    it helps if the model is GORGEOUS like the one in your example!

Some older comments

  • ed duarte

    January 20, 2012 04:55 am

    it helps if the model is GORGEOUS like the one in your example!

  • Dewan Demmer

    May 21, 2011 02:49 am

    I have a lot of trouble with framing, close up of people, if it can squint at me I somehow have trouble get the framing right ... landscape and puddle ... no problem

  • Mushfiq Mahbub

    May 27, 2010 06:01 pm

    It’s really enjoyable to capture portraits. When one of my friend requested me to capture some photos of her brother, I took the boy with me to visit a lake (he was too nervous). At first I made fun with him, made him easy in front of my camera and then capture pictures.

    It’s a very good idea to capture the faces only. But I think, if it’s possible then one photographer should capture some flavor of the place too.(every one loves dinner but not better than a candle light dinner with his beloved person)

    Thank You.
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/50573147@N04/4644334188/' title='Picture 004' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4071/4644334188_deebbbd38d.jpg']

  • Jim News

    January 21, 2010 12:24 pm

    I must say I really like this picture. The best part of understanding "rules" is knowing when to break them. Well done!

  • dewyne wainwright

    April 12, 2008 08:17 am

    I have been experimenting and like what i'm getting

  • Hitesh Sawlani (hitkaiser)

    August 17, 2007 02:04 pm

    This blog is slowly turning into digital photography spam. The amazon links within the main text is ANNOYING.

  • PRH

    August 17, 2007 01:39 pm

    I love this photo...it's intriguing. Even though there is no "actual" active space in the image to the right of the woman's face (her left), the position of her right eye, which is in sharp focus, is in the center upper third of the image and looking slightly downward. This is what is gives a perception of active space and brings harmony to the image.
    PS, loving the breaking the rules series...keep 'em coming

  • Jessy

    August 16, 2007 11:12 am

    I like taking portraits of people running around, acting like their regular, normal self instead setting staged poses. This is an interesting article to learn more about different angles of taking portraits.

  • AC

    August 16, 2007 10:43 am

    I like taking photo when the person is not paying attention to the camera. I generally do it on request though, people snaps are not my forte.

  • Andrew Ferguson

    August 16, 2007 05:04 am

    I like taking portraits of people that only show part of their face. Not due to restrictions, I just like the focus on one part of someone's face.

    It makes me think of the way I visually remember someones face; I find a distinctive element and build from there.

    It's hard to do, though. I'm far from perfecting the technique :P

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