How to Fill the Frame in Photography

by David Em

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The common photography tip to fill the frame means to get closer to your subject, making them the largest part of the photo.

Greyscale headshot of a person with an uneasy look on their face.

What’s a frame?

In photography, the frame is the edges of the image. When you look through a viewfinder, you’re able to see what’s in the frame, and what isn’t.

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When you’re framing a subject, there are many ways to do it. You can use the frame of the image, or use elements within the image to frame them.

One of the most impactful ways to make an image look more aesthetically pleasing is to fill the frame. It ensures that the focus stays on your subject.

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How to fill the frame in photography

To fill the frame, you can get closer to your subject, zoom in, or crop the photo in post-processing. Regardless of the method that you choose, the key is to make sure that your subject takes up a large portion of the frame.

Filling the frame is a beneficial composition technique because it removes all of the potential distractions.

For example, a portrait is meant to focus on a person. If you’re shooting a portrait from further back, there can be many things in the background that’s distracting.

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This is a time where you’d want to fill the frame. Get closer to your subject to take the photo, and all of the attention will immediately be on your main subject.

The following is an example of what it looks like to fill the frame, and how much of a difference it makes when you don’t.

Close-up of a person with plants in the background.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.
Portrait at the side of a house next to plants.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

When you don’t fill the frame, there are plants, signs, or other elements that cause the viewer’s eyes to bounce around. However, when you fill the frame, it’s less distracting, and it looks much better.


One of the most famous quotes about photography comes from the world-renowned war photographer and photojournalist, Robert Capa. He says “if your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.” Therefore, get closer to your subject, and fill the frame for a well-composed photo.

More resources:

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.

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