#Back to the Roadmap

There is a common phrase used in photography that sounds: “If it is not good enough, it is not close enough” (Robert Capa). The meaning is simple: if you don’t like the photo you have just taken, get closer to your subject and retake the picture. This page describes why to get closer, and fill the frame.

Filling the frame means that your subject should cover as much space as available in your photo. Just like a painter would use the entire canvas for a painting.


Because I got close to the dog, his focused look is visible. Would I have been far away, this would be less obvious.

In portrait photography, this means you have to get close to your model and fill the frame with his or her face. By doing this, you create a connection between the model and the viewer of the photo. While if you maintain a large distance to your model, the facial expressions are less visible in the photo, and the viewer does not feel connected to the model.

Another reason to cover the canvas (or photo) as much as possible with your subject, is to reduce the number distracting elements (simply by not showing them). Too many background items create a chaotic scene, as the well know acronym K.I.S.S. sounds: “Keep It Simple, Stupid”. Besides, by getting close to your subject, you are showing more details of the subject self.

Consider the images below. Both pictures show a bench during sunset, it is the same bench. After doing a little research, it became clear that most people preferred the photo close to the bench, as it evoked most emotions. In the picture on the right side, the tree was considered to be distracting.

In conclusion, whichever composition rule you use, you need to consider if you want to fill the frame, or not. This choice is up to the situation and mood you want to capture.

Three applications and advantages of filling the frame are:

  • To show more details of the subject
  • To remove distracting elements, by showing less of the background
  • To create a connection with the subject

If your intentions are to set a mood where the viewer is a spectator, you don’t want a connection with the subject. In that case, you might consider not to fill the frame.

Hopefully this page helped you to make the choice that is right for your photos.


  1. Pingback: Update: How filling the frame will improve your photos! | Luvo

  2. Very good comparison between filling a canvas and a picture. Never thought of it like that, but of course it makes sense. I’ll have to keep that in mind.

    • Thank you very much Kiki! I am sorry for the late reply, life has been a bit hectic.

      Hope you’re doing well!

      I am glad you liked the post 🙂

      Warm regards,

  3. Pingback: Update: Framing your composition | Luvo

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  5. No worries, I know life can get busy outside of blogging 🙂 All’s well on my end, and I hope it’ll get less hectic on yours!

    • It does, right? All is well here too, thank you. I am sure it will get less hectic in a few weeks!


  6. Pingback: Update: Balancing elements in your photos | Luvo

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  8. The one sure way to keep from including too much extraneous information in a photograph is to fill the frame with your subject and nothing but your subject.

    • You are absolutely right Tatjana! Thank you for your comment and have a great day 🙂

      Kind regards,

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