We’re back with the third installment of our ongoing Photography School series taught by our resident expert Mike Bullock. We’ve been doing our homework and putting our lessons in Aperture and Lighting to good use over the last couple months, so we’re super excited to add another notch to our belt with today’s tutorial on composing your subject and filling the frame. Take it away, Mike…


When I first started sharing my photos online, friends and family immediately started asking about my camera. It’s actually a common joke within the photography community, with the main takeaway being that a camera is just a tool and is only as good as the person wielding it – much in the same way pots and pans work for a chef. Having a nice camera certainly helps, but the reality is that my most drastic photography improvements came from changing my technique and understanding of the craft. And I find that even the most simple, widely-stated tips remain untapped by aspiring photographers. Case in point:

filling the frame.

A common trait of amateur photography is poor composition of the real estate inside your image. It’s natural to stand several feet away from your subject at eye-level and snap a single shot, but the biggest problem with that approach is that it can provide a lot of unimportant, distracting environmental elements, and your photo ends up losing the intimacy and detail that you experienced in person.

There is an old rule that can start you down the path of remedying this habit: frame a shot the way you like it, then take two steps forward and reframe it. If this is new to you, it might be awkward to step into that social field of personal space that can make you feel like an intruder. Push through those boundaries and see the difference in your results. Then try changing your point of view… get down low or up high, tilt the camera at different angles, think about your subject and how you can compose a more intimate close-up using all of the real estate in your frame, use available foreground and background elements to create layers in your photograph.  

Any subject matter will do,  just experiment and shoot regularly until you get the hang of it. Yes, you will take a lot of bad photographs, but you’ll also have some of the most interesting shots you’ve ever made.  This practice and a focus on filling the frame of your images can ultimately shape a distinctive, personal style that will help engage people into your imagery.

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Chanel Dror