Fill the Frame in Photography

Something that I’ve been collecting over the years is a document filled with my favorite photography quotes. This document contains quotes from all the masters such as Ansel Adams, Helmut Newton, and even modern contemporary photographers such as Annie Leibovitz.

fill the frame photography composition

“The Kelpie” captured by Martin Grier

The one that I was looking at today comes from photography instructor Rick Sammon, and it really hit a chord with what I’ve been doing lately.

“The name of the game is to fill the frame.” — Rick Sammon

So what does this mean? Well, have you ever been walking down the beach and seen a beautiful seashell? Sure, you’re surrounded by ocean and sand, but in that moment all you see is a beautiful seashell.

Your mind fixes its gaze and only begins to focus on the detail in that shell. This is how, as photographers, we should use our tools to draw the viewer’s eye, emotions, and perception. As a photographer, we should use this concept to get close and fill the frame. Being up close and personal to a subject brings the viewer in. This technique allows us to lean forward and examine all the small details that make up the wondrous object before us. Filling the frame offers a sense of completeness, clarity, inclusion, and comfort. We essentially “dive in” and experience the true essence of what the subject has to offer.

This theory of “filling the frame” can be applied to any and all forms of photography that you run into. Landscape, macro, portrait, architecture, product, wedding, lifestyle… You should always “fill the frame.”

Why? Because in today’s world, there is no use for extraneous material. There’s no need for clutter. We must be taken to the exact point of interest that you as a photographer are trying to show, and include nothing else.

This theory of course, is not a “hard and fast law.” It is only a theory… Another tool in your arsenal in order to most efficiently and effectively broadcast your message.

An example of this would be photographing a lone bird on a telephone pole. What emotions are you trying to show? If it’s aloneness, and you want the viewer to feel a sense that the bird is the only thing in its environment… Do you think you should “fill the frame?” Probably not. You would most likely want to frame the bird with lots of open space around it to evoke this emotion. So of course, use your best judgment.

filling the frame

“King of the Geladas” captured by Hermen van Laar

I hope the theory of “filling the frame” is helpful in your pursuit and journey of opening your mind and sharing your imagery with the world. Take it, move forward and enjoy.

About the Author:
Lucas Martling is the founder of he teaches photographers how to maximize their efforts in photography, post-processing, social media, and running a successful photography business. His latest program titled “The Photography Social Media Formula” is in it’s final stages for release. To download his free, action-packed photography guidebook titled “The 7 Deadly Photo Mistakes” visit This free photography book is jam packed with tips and tricks which will catapult your photography to the next level.

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