What's In YOUR View Finder? November 17 2007, 0 Comments

In 1989, I was given my first film camera, a Minolta 370. I didn’t use it much that first year. Partly because I was still in graduate school and it took a great deal of my time, but also because the friend who had given me the camera kept saying something to me that I did not understand, “FILL THE FRAME.” No matter what photos I took, really snap shots back then, he would always say, “You didn’t fill the frame.” I would think to myself, “Well, no-one’s head is cut off…I can see the whole scene…” Finally, I was photographing a young woman just for the practice. I was using slide film because it is unforgiving. (If you make a mistake on your exposure it shows! It also helps you develop a keen sense of light and an understanding for the principles of light.) Anyway, we were talking and laughing while shooting and she turned her head to compose herself and I took the photograph. It was in that moment that “FILL THE FRAME” became real for me. I realized that for the first time the image I had taken was a photograph that filled the frame entirely: I was on my way! Those early images lacked focus. They made the eyes wander because there was no clear subject matter. I wasn’t paying attention to what was in my view finder.

What is in your view finder???

First, you need to decide why you are taking the photograph. Set the photograph up…remember your perspective.

Next, look through the view finder to see what is going to end up in your photograph! So many times I hear people say. “I didn’t see that car” or “I didn’t see that person walk into the picture.” You can really learn to set your photos apart by focusing on what your intention for the photograph is and by making sure that your view finder is clear of anything that will be distracting.

Finally, get right in on your subject…FILL THE FRAME! Your subject should take up the whole of your photographic space. Unless you are trying to intentionally make your subject look small, your image should fill the view finder. Don’t count on cropping after the fact. The best images are those that need the smallest amount of editing. It means that you are photographing with intent!