Frame On Purpose

Hi friends!

One of the constant questions film makers and photographers must ask themselves is, “How should I frame?”  There is no right or wrong way to frame because composition is subject to style, feeling, BLAH BLAH BLAH.  It’s one thing to get the subject in your frame, but it’s another to have your composition purposefully tell a story.  There are so many elements that can either strengthen or weaken your story.  When we are shooting we try to ask ourselves a series of questions to help us frame on purpose.


Whats in my frame?

Are there objects in your frame that can distract your viewer from the story your want to tell?  Is there things such as exit signs, gear, blown out back drops, people, that are distracting the viewer from what you want their attention to be on? If needed, change your angle, use foreground, use Depth of field, or DONT use it, to help your viewer feel right.

This shot was usable for about the first 6 seconds.  But then objects in the frame became too distracting to the story.  Its tempting to use the shot and hope that your viewers don’t notice, but they usually do. It will disconnect your audience from the desired feeling.

Here is how the shot started… a great shot!

Once they got a little ways down the isle, things went wrong…

In the picture below with a little adjustment to the framing, the distractions could eliminated.

What’s going on in my frame?

What am I shooting?  How do the things in my frame have relevance to the story? Sometimes as cinematographers we get so focused on getting the shot whether it be some epic slide or insane use of foreground, that we forget to ask ourselves if the composition or the objects in our frame are telling the right story.

The following examples aren’t a matter of right and wrong… but a matter of what story is being told.

As you look at these screen grabs, ask yourself… how do I feel about this subject.  Then make note of what objects are in your frame and how did they help dictate your feeling toward the subject.

In the above images the one on the left gives you a feeling of chaos, disorganization, slob.  Where as the on the right gives you a feeling of precision, cleanliness and clear understanding. Why?

In these images, what is the focus?  The intention for both of them was for the computer to be the focus, although the one on the left had something going on in the background that was a little more interesting. Compared to the one on the right its no question that my attention is supposed to be on the computer.

Once again sometimes we are so focused on getting that slider shot smooth, that we forget to pay attention to what our subject is doing in the shot.


What’s next?

Anticipate Action – When shooting concentrate on what people are saying and doing to anticipate their next action.  This way you can be one step ahead and be ready when the action happens.  This allows you to get the content that you intended to get.

Did I get it? If you have the chance, try the shot a few times and with variations.  This gives you more to work with in post production and can make up for mistakes not seen while shooting.


Hope this helps!



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