The Art of Framing

Over the years, I’ve worked in a couple of areas that dealt with framing:

In photography, framing helps with composing the image. You use natural elements to draw your viewer’s eye to the subject. This helps emphasize the subject, bringing a natural structure as well as isolates the subject from distractions. In fact, for any kind of 2D visual art, the literal frame helps guide attention from the wall to the work (it also has a functional purpose of making it easier to hang).

In construction, framing is what keeps the house from falling down. A good foundation and excellent framing can keep a building up for centuries. With proper walls, it also keeps the elements that you want safe inside while keeping other things out.

And in any kind of storytelling (be it news, a book, or a joke), the framing narrows things down to the essential elements.

With every example, framing is just as much about what you keep in as well as what you keep out. Framing can change the dynamics of what is being created. It can turn the mundane into art. It can obscure the larger context when elements are isolated. Any situation that involves framing requires one thing: a foundation of trust. The observer, resident, and audience must trust the person who is framing. The framer can build that foundation through a body of work, having inspectors, and consistent results.

If you do any kind of framing, remember people won’t give you the benefit of the doubt simply because you’re doing the work. You need to build a foundation first.

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