Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Mistakes in Amateur Photography - Framing

Family Triptych
Family by Fellini 04

Here is a family photograph session. The family members posing in the sunlight at the front of the family home and the obligatory shadow in the frame. Typical family portrait, but with a little difference. It was directed perhaps by Ingmar Bergman or Federico Fellini... Seriously, what is the story? Were these taken by a child? Was the off center mode done with intention? Was the photographer just very inexperienced? Was the view finder on the old box camera out of sync?

Today's Feature: Framing the shot.

This page will collect some major mistakes that amateur photographers make in FRAMING the SHOT.

(1)CENTERING: Even if not in the center of the shot, the subject should not be partially cut off by the edge of the frame. Cut off heads are the most common but sometimes the feet cut off also.

(2)LEVELING: The camera should be held level so that the subject in the picture does not look like it is sliding off the earth.

(3)DISTANCE: Then there is the shot that is too far from the subject to make out any detail. Or perhaps, the camera is so close it won't focus properly and you get just a blurry image.

It's all called FRAMING THE SHOT.

girl by the pool
In this photograph, the subject is not CENTERED

New Additions
Group outside
Too far away

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Too far away

New Additions
Five women in a line
Cut off heads

New Additions
School Picture
Too far away
Group of Ladies
People cut off on both sides
Lost head

Girl on a bus
The camera was not level at the time of the shot.
Pleasant View
Two more examples of a camera that was not level.
Butler's Barn

The camera was too close. Older cameras had a fixed-focus range that limited how close the camera could be to the subject and still produce a clear shot. Modern day auto-focus cameras handle this problem much better.
Statue of Liberty
In this example, the subject and camera are too far apart. The subject is almost too small to identify.

Here are more examples of these typical amateur photographer mistakes. They are presented here in no particular order. See which mistakes you can identify in each of these.

Mom and Dad, two boys and a dog in a wagon
Seventh wheel
Two Women and coats

back and towel
two dressed up kids
Atlantic City Olive Tom Art

Ma, Pa and the kids
Three men and a cigar
Biplane and seven people
Actually they probably couldn't hear the photographer yelling "Move in closer together!"

Three women one child
Dad and six kids
Even professional photographers can't seem to get everybody in the frame occasionally.
Two women

College friends
Actually, this one is tilted AND too far away.
Three in the surf
Four children

Cleo and Durwood
two dressed up kids

Girl in surf 4
Group five people

Group five people
Group six people
Cat in the snow

Man on rock
three girls at the beach
Two girls surf

School picture
Here is a common one. You get the whole building in the frame but the people are too far away to tell who is who.
Hotel Saint George

Another car shot
Seated on floor no head
Sitting on Floor

East India
Smugglers' notch

The Outlet
Dude Ranch probably

Bank of 1000 islands

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An album of the most requested photographs in the Lost Gallery.

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You are probably not authorized to see these.

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This is a collection of photographs that disappear on the way home from the photo processing shop.

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All images are the property of Lost Gallery and the author. Permission must be granted for their use. All rights reserved.

THE KIDS Lesson one.
It is always a mystery how a photograph of any of these precious children could end up lost or abandoned. Here are a few. You will probably say "Ooh..." at least once.

Dee and the Business School Dee and the Business School
The beautiful Dee. A curious story; What do you see?

Neiffel and Helvetica Typehigh

"What are they doing?"


  1. I have a theory about the first photo where everyone is looking somewhere else. I think there are two photographers and people are looking at the other camera. This a great instructional category that still applies to photos made with today's smart phones and digital pocket cameras.

    1. Thanks Mike Brubaker. I think you are right. I can't think of any other reason other than something like a barn door fell off just as the photograph was snapped, and distracted anyone who could hear it. Two cameras is a much better scenario. And yes, with today's throw-away attitude, little time is spent framing the subject or finding the best background or lighting. Millions of digital photographs being taken by the hour but how many will be here to enjoy like the ones above, a hundred or even fifth years from now?



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