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Out of Focus Foreground Framing Composition Trick

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This is one of my favorite compositional techniques: it is something I do a lot. I think it’s becoming a signature part of my style. I didn’t realize this until a photographer friend showed me a photo he had taken (utilizing this technique) and showed it to me saying it was his ‘Jacinda shot’ or something like that. When shooting, I often try to find something in the foreground which I can throw out of focus to frame the subject. It is a really simple way to add depth and creativity to the photograph, as well as helping give the main subject more emphasis.

Here are some examples:

All you have to do is find something you can shoot behind. Be sure to use a wide aperture for this technique, to throw the foreground out of focus as much as possible. This image uses an aperture of f2.2. In this wedding, I used the groom and the flower bouquet to frame the bride’s face.

jacindaphotographyooe1.jpeg

This next one is from a birthday party and uses the streamers in the room to frame the subject:

birthdayjacindaphotography5.jpeg

If there are two people sitting or standing close to each other, try shooting ‘through’ them.

?

birthdayjacindaphotography6.jpeg

When things get in the way: use them to your advantage. This shot is taken from a birthday party, where someone was trying to get in the way of my photo by waving a pink hat around. The result: one of my favorite images from the event.

jacindaphotographycouple3.jpeg

?The addition of this balloon not only frames the faces, but helps show the nature of the event.

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Use other faces:

nepaljacindaphotography1.jpeg

I love long grass in photos! Long grass looks pretty when you throw it out of focus!

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Use a wall. Just position your camera up against a wall to get some of that wall in the foreground out of focus!

couplejacindaphotography.jpeg

Set the camera close to the ground, and the out of focus ground in the foreground will add that extra depth to your photograph!

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Anyway, I hope that was helpful!

Jacinda Setiawan is the photographer of of Jacinda Photography. She is based in Palmerston North, New Zealand, and specializes in weddings, portraits, and events. Find her at thejacinda.com as well as on Facebook under Jacinda Photography.

3 Comments

  1. Brian Obbekjær

    January 14, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    I found it funny to stumble across this article and your comments because I myself have gradually adopted this in many of my photos.

    Just like you mention, it gives a sense of depth to the picture and helps frame the subject. Sometimes I use it the other way around too, with the closest object in focus and a blurry background, and more often than not I use the sides of the photo like this one I took of the sun rising on December 23rd:

    http://suntrip.smugmug.com/Seasons/Winter/25937986_J7tmJq#!i=2288108357&k=6rN9z9p

  2. […] a different vantage point. Shoot from high up or really low to the ground. Compose the shot using Out of Focus Foreground Framing. Position natural elements within a scene in unique ways. Capture the scene at night. Use […]

  3. […] You can place your subject in any of these three areas and the remaining areas can tell the story and form the context. You may also try layering by using reflections in your image or Out of Focus Foreground Framing. […]

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