Photography Cheat Sheet: Sizing Up Subjects in Your Frame

Today’s photography cheat sheet explains why the size of the subject in your shot depends on the effect you want to achieve.

How much space in the frame should your subject cover? This is one of the simple questions that you may have when composing your shots. You can either fill the frame with a close-up of your subject if you’re shooting portraits, or go for a wider composition to emphasize the feel of the environment or show how your subject interacts with it. Size does matter when it comes to how you present your subject, but the long answer is, it depends on what effect you want to achieve in your composition. Today’s featured photography cheat sheet has more to say on the topic.

In their cheat sheet below by Digital Camera World, they first tell us that the physical size of the subjects or any other elements in the frame should match the feel and composition of our photo. Being able to use this knowledge wisely will allow us to make a small subject in a wide, open space have just as much impact as a close-up shot that fills the frame.

The key to this, according to the guide, is to shift the composition to extremes, so that one element of the scene dominates the image. This way, you’ll be able to effectively use either negative or positive space. We often see this in action in landscape compositions where there’s more of the sky in the shot to draw our eyes to the dramatic colors of the sunset. Conversely, a landscape shot that focuses on interesting natural formations in the foreground may have less of the sky in the composition.

Putting all of these together into practice, make sure to take a good look at the location or scene before starting to take photos. Evaluate the elements and decide which are most important and where the real interest lies. This will allow you to create compositions that effectively represent your subject or tell great visual stories about them.

Need more photography tips and tricks like this? Don’t forget to check out our photography cheat sheet collection to find more that will come in handy for your next shoot and projects!