As photographers, we often gravitate to the same locations over and over for portrait sessions. EIther because the light is super gorgeous, trees are always green or maybe you just love the view.
After a while though, sometimes we can get stuck in a routine taking the same photos in the same favorite spots. I don’t know about you, but I crave variety after a while and start looking around on how I can achieve that.
One of my favorite ways to give a gallery and a location a new “look” is to use my scenery to layer or frame my subjects.
I like to achieve this through three different way:
When using layers and foreground in your photo, you will usually want to use a 50mm or 85mm lens. If you try using wide lenses then everything in your frame will be more in focus and you won’t get that beautiful, out of focus foreground.
To make the biggest impact, I try to find two to three layers: The one closest to me will be the most blurry and most likely the one to frame my subject. The next layer will be whatever the couple is standing next to and will be the most in focus. The last layer is the background. Ideally, I still want that creamy bokeh behind my subject, so I try to put some distance between the backdrop and my subject.
I typically try to make sure my foreground and background are similar in exposure. For example, if your foreground is being directly lit by the sun and your background is a shadowed row of hedges, your foreground will most likely look blown out and the backdrop will look like a black cave. Play around with where you stand and you might be able to block a distracting element out with your foreground or with your client’s body.
I love looking for trees that completely frame the subject, like they fit into a little pocket of light.
In these examples, you can see how the subjects are surrounded by foliage and they are standing in front of a pocket of light.
The same concept applies to the photo above. The tree branch is curving around, framing them from above and they are standing in front of a golden area light. The green grass at the bottom of the frame mimics the green in the branches.
In nature you will rarely find any straight lines. Tree branches may curve gently downwards, a stream may bend loosely around a forest. When placing and framing my subjects, I will use their outfits and poses to compliment the area they are standing next to.
In the example above, you can see the arch has a beautiful S curve that flows off to the right of the frame. I wanted her to face the same direction as the top of the curve and as the bottom of the arch swoops right, I also made her dress swoop the same direction. This way, the two don’t battle each other for attention, but complement each other.
In the image above, you can see the shape of her dress mimics the shape of the mountains behind her. The both start higher on the left and drift down to the right.
Try looking at the curves and shapes the environment is giving and complement the outfit or pose to the same shape.
I hope these framing tips help you out. If you have any other ideas or tips you think others could use, please leave them below!