If you’re simply using branches to frame a landscape, or a doorway to frame a portrait, your compositions aren’t realizing their full potential. More complex framing devices can add compositional power to your pictures. Here are three examples:
Create a focal point. The mirror in this photo acts to focus attention on the center of interest—the reflection of the model’s face. In this case, the frame is particularly effective because it outlines the mirror with a lighter tone, and our eyes tend to go to the lightest part of a photograph.
Establish context. This picture would still work without the legs of the Eiffel Tower because the streaming lines of the headlight trails would lead the viewer’s eye to the building (the Ecole Militaire). The legs, however, add a warm glow to the visual impact, and make it clear that the scene is in Paris.
Layer graphic elements. An image of just the building and flag in the background of this photo would have been stagnant, as would have been an image solely of the glass pyramid (the top of the Louvre). By framing the background elements within the pyramid, the image becomes a dynamic graphic design.
Project yourself: Projectors and projector screens are bulky, heavy, and often impractical if you want to show your images on the go. Several companies now make tiny “handheld” or “pico” projectors. These can project on any surface—they’re great on a blank white wall, and in a pinch even a plain white T-shirt! The Optoma PK-101 Pico ($300, street; www.optomausa.com) weighs just 4 ounces (including rechargeable battery), can fit in a shirt pocket, and can project images up to 60 inches across. While not able to hook into laptops, it can be connected into digital cameras and camcorders (via A/V cable), iPods (with the included dock connector), and Nokia camera phones (with an optional cable).