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Out of Focus Foreground Framing

This is one of my favorite compositional techniques: it is something I do a lot. I think it’s becoming a signature part of my style. I didn’t realize this until a photographer friend showed me a photo he had taken (utilizing this technique) and showed it to me saying it was his ‘Jacinda shot’ or something like that. When shooting, I often try to find something in the foreground which I can throw out of focus to frame the subject. It is a really simple way to add depth and creativity to the photograph, as well as helping give the main subject more emphasis.

Here are some examples:

All you have to do is find something you can shoot behind. Be sure to use a wide aperture for this technique, to throw the foreground out of focus as much as possible. This image uses an aperture of f2.2. In this wedding, I used the groom and the flower bouquet to frame the bride’s face.


This next one is from a birthday party and uses the streamers in the room to frame the subject:


If there are two people sitting or standing close to each other, try shooting ‘through’ them.


When things get in the way: use them to your advantage. This shot is taken from a birthday party, where someone was trying to get in the way of my photo by waving a pink hat around. The result: one of my favorite images from the event.


The addition of this balloon not only frames the faces, but helps show the nature of the event.


Use other faces:


I love long grass in photos! Long grass looks pretty when you throw it out of focus!


Use a wall. Just position your camera up against a wall to get some of that wall in the foreground out of focus!


Set the camera close to the ground, and the out of focus ground in the foreground will add that extra depth to your photograph!


Anyway, I hope that was helpful!

Jacinda Setiawan is the photographer of of Jacinda Photography. She is based in Palmerston North, New Zealand, and specializes in weddings, portraits, and events. 

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