On Frames and Framing

Why frame - and a suggestion of how-to 


Whenever you take a photograph, you frame a part of the visual reality.

In fact this is what photography is all about. 

It´s the first and foremost initial action you take when standing with your camera at a location wanting to capture a scene or event. By framing a part of reality, you at the same time change reality. From being just that - reality - you in an instant convert the situation into a selection of your choice. In that instant you have changed this part of reality into something completely different; a picture.

You choose what to capture and what not to capture. And by making that choice, and by arranging the different items within the frame, you have created a piece of reality yourself. An apple on a table is one thing - and a framed apple on a table is something entirely different. As Magritte wrote underneath a painting of a pipe he made: "This is not a pipe". 

And right he was. As much as an apple on a table is no longer an apple on a table when photographed. It´s now become a photograph.

But Framing and Frames are two things

When you have made the photograph, you might want to embellish it - or emphasize it - with a nice frame of your choice.

Now, frames are  very individual things. If you want to make a frame, you should make one of your own design - or maybe not make one at all. Some people find frames ugly and out of place - while others think they really make the best of a picture. And there are a billion ways of constructing a frame - from the thin black line edging the photo to the heavy, carved wooden frame seeming more important than the photo itself.

In the following I will give you an example of a framing method I use at the time. I have used many other designs, as I will probably change the layout again soon.

But that said - here goes, in Photoshop Elements:

After opening the photo in the editor I set the background colour to white. Then I choose Image>resize>canvas.

Then I add some space in each direction - in this case 2 cm - and click OK.

I choose the rectangular marquee tool from the toolbox, make a selection just outside the original image, then go to Effects>frames>recessed frame, click apply - and I now have the illusion that picture is embedded in a thick passe partout.

Now I need the outer frame.

I click on foreground colour, use the picker to apply a colour found in the picture itself - in this case a red. Choosing a colour from the photo makes a coherent and nice result I think.

Then I go to Effects>frames>Foreground colour, click apply and the editor will do the rest of the job.

Now I just need to save the final result. Looking like this: