Photography – Fill the frame with what “you” like

Photography Feature image

You can be a technically brilliant photographer, but unless you follow a couple of basic rules, your photos won’t do it for you, as Simon Thomas explains…

Every Pixel Counts

Today’s tutorial is kind of like Lisa (my wife), short and sweet. Over the last few years, I’ve written more than a few “techy” how to articles. Some have focused on specific camera functions, whilst others have leant more towards post-processing your images.

Well, I’m bringing this masterclass back to basics. Here’s the deal, if you have a camera, yes even an iPhone, then you’re a photographer, and as a photographer, you have two jobs, and only two. One is to have fun taking the photos. C’mon, if your not having fun, then why the hell are you doing it? Two, and this is the heart of today’s class, “make every pixel count!”

Shoot What You Like

Before you even think about re-reading the last few masterclasses, buying a new camera or fiddling with sliders in Photoshop or LUMINAR, you need to practice this one simple rule, are you ready? “Fill the frame with what you like!” Yep, it’s that simple. No matter how technically perfect a shot, if it’s not totally full of just the stuff that you like, chances are it’ll be, well…crap!

Remove The Blah

So, get rid of elements that don’t turn you on. If the clear blue sky of a landscape shot isn’t what excites you then just shoot the land and the scenery around it. If it’s just the bike in the image that is cool then get in close and stop worrying about trying to get the background into the shot. Get rid of people meandering through the shot and boring foreground content that doesn’t actually add something to your photo.

What’s Really Important

Let’s take a quick look at the main photo in this class. I actually shot 50 plus images centred around our stop at the lookout point over the Atigun Pass in Alaska. Most are OK and one or two are actually good.

The problem I was having, was that I was trying too hard to get all the elements into the shot. Until I realised that I didn’t need to. I took a deep breath and then analysed what was important about the view. Sure having Lisa and I in the shot was nice, but the shot needed to be more about us, being surrounded by this dark, brooding and massive landscape.

What was also really keeping my attention was the detail in the mountainside being highlighted by shards of intense light that was escaping the thick cloud base. Once I figured that out, I could create the photo you see here. Have a look at the other image, the “fail” as I call it.

fail Photo
The “Fail” image

The foreground doesn’t work in the shot, it’s too light to convey any drama, there’s a red traffic cone in the left of the shot and the dramatic light and clouds barely even get noticed. So, before you snap your next shot, take a second to work out what you like and get rid of everything else; yes, everything else.

It’ll improve your photos a thousandfold and you’ll have a lot more fun in the process. Remember, if you particularly like what you’ve captured, please share it on our Facebook page at We’d love to see your images!