Internal Frames

The last two blog posts have talked about using nodal points to place a subject inside of a frame. Up to this point, we have considered the frame to be the outside edges of the photograph.  What I want to consider today is the idea of having another frame inside of the edges of the picture. This frame is often called an inside frame or a secondary frame.

Consider this image of the legs in the fireplace. (The final image was called Between Here And There). The external frame is easy to see, it is the outside edges of the image. However, this image has several internal frames which are used to tell the story of the image as well as drive the viewers attention to the subject.

Internal Frames Example 1
Between Here And There

The obvious internal frame is the firebox. The tonal contrast of this internal frame immediately draws the viewers attention to that area of the overall image where we ultimately see that there are legs in the firebox.

The second internal frame that is utilized in this image in the top 1/3 of the image. It is defined by the top and sides of the image as well as the mantle of the fireplace. the damaged wall above the mantle attracts the viewer to this frame where they soon discover a ghostly face in the wall above the mantle.

Compositionally, this concept opens up many new doors. For example, consider the image Secret Agent Man. Firs of all, this image has a mat around it. The mat now becomes the external frame and the outer edges of the image become an internal frame. The placement of an image in a mat can have a significant impact on the final feel of an image and is a real consideration when displaying prints.

Internal Frames 2
Secret Agent Man

Within  the image I created two internal frames. This was done by dividing the image in half with the wooden edge of the door. The “Secret Agent” in now in one internal frame and “Admiring Onlooking” is in a different internal frame. By Making the one frame larger, it gives it greater significance in the image causing the viewers eye to go to the Secret Agent first. The viewers eye will the jump to the smaller frame to see the onlooker. Selective depth of field helps to strengthen the Secret Agent have greater viewer attraction in the image as well.

I once saw a wedding image that took this concept and used it to make a truly amazing image. The viewer was looking down a hallway and at the end of the hallway where two open doors. Through one door the viewer could see the complete chaos of the brides getting ready room. Clothing and boxes everywhere. I forget what the bride was doing but I remember it be something that looked very confused. Through the other door you could see the the father of the bride sitting at the end of a made bed, the room pin neat, calmly adjusting his tie.

That image was a perfect example of using multiple frames in a single image to tell two different stories, however, the stories were very much connected.

Leave a Reply