Fill the Frame


One of the many maxims in photography is, “If you’re not happy with the shots you’re getting, get closer.” A shorter way of saying this is, “Fill the frame.” Many travelers find this one simple rule makes them happier with their shots than any others. It makes their pictures more interesting, more dynamic. It surely gives us more to see, as with the biker and also with this shot from the South African bush.


You also can fill the frame when shooting wide, which in my book is the best story-telling range of all. As an example, on a hot day on the edge of Cape Town, I’d watched the lady in this picture burn the hair off sheep heads with an iron rod that she heated repeatedly in an open fire. Seeing the glowing tip very close to the fingers of the hand used to hold and turn the heads, I asked if she didn’t burn herself at times. “Yes,” she answered, smiling in a light-hearted manner that I doubt I could assume if I had her job, “it is the sheep’s revenge!”


Open space can also fill a frame, as in the shot of the snowshoer – a friend who was handling the cold at Mount Rainier a whole lot better than I was. Space can fill and do it pleasantly if it’s purposeful content, unlike those shots we snap occasionally which have too much road or cloudless gray sky or anything that lends nothing to the picture.


Photos filled with many objects can entertain the eyes as they dart about, noticing each element. Shots with lots of open space are a visual breath of fresh air. It’s something to think about if you plan to show your photos to others when you get home.


You might also want to make your friends laugh, by shooting close-up and wide to entertain them with a view that we don’t get with the naked eye.


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