Photo Composition Tips | Shoot Through Things

February 21, 2012

in Photography Tips, Susan Keller

I Heart Faces Photo Composition Tips

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I have a super simple, perhaps obvious, but very fun photo composition tip for today:

Shoot Through Things

Here’s what I mean.  See this perfectly lovely pathway?  It makes a beautiful “frame” for my subject.

I Heart Faces Photo Compostition Tips

But I can also use the path foliage (getting up really close to my foreground foliage) to frame out the subjects in a variety of ways.

I Heart Faces Photo Compostition Tips

Neat, huh?

In the spirit of brainstorming, here are just a few ways to “shoot through things” to make a photo more interesting, more layered, more intriguing, less ordinary in its composition:

Shoot through leaves.

I Heart Faces Photo Compostition Tips

Shoot through weeds (especially if they’re backlit and glowy!!).  BTW, that’s not sun flare below, it’s weed sparkle.  :-)

I Heart Faces Photo Compostition Tips

I Heart Faces Photo Compostition Tips

Shoot through doorways.

I Heart Faces Photo Compostition Tips

Shoot through crib bars.

I Heart Faces Photo Compostition Tips

Shoot through furniture.

I Heart Faces Photo Compostition Tips

Sometimes in order to capture my ornery Teen in photos with a smile on his face, I need to go into stealth mode and shoot through truck bed windows …

I Heart Faces Photo Compostition Tips

If you happen to be photographing a puppet show, be sure to shoot a photo from behind the curtains …

I Heart Faces Photo Compostition Tips

I Heart Faces Photo Compostition Tips

Shoot a pretty landscape photo through a fence.

I Heart Faces Photo Compostition Tips

Shoot through a boat thingy (yup, my vocabulary is pretty techie!).  Zoom in, too.

I Heart Faces Photo Compostition Tips

I Heart Faces Photo Compostition Tips

Shoot through ladders and doll houses.

I Heart Faces Photo Compostition Tips

Shoot through windows, from outside looking in (outdoor reflections add an intriguing layer to your photo).

I Heart Faces Photo Compostition Tips

Shoot through windows, from inside looking out (especially when your kiddo is using said window as his personal performance mirror!).

I Heart Faces Photo Composition Tips

Shoot through car doors, and grab a self-portrait in the mirror while you’re at it …

I Heart Faces Photo Compostition Tips

Shoot through chairs.

I Heart Faces Photo Compostition Tips

And, one of my favorite shoot-through things (again, with the techie language):  the car windshield.

I Heart Faces Photo Compostition Tips

As you can see, there are endless possibilities!  Tell us in the comments some of your favorite things to shoot photos through.

Susan Keller for I Heart FacesSusan Keller is an Orange County Baby, Child & Family Photographer who loves coffee, good books, big landscapes, her dudes, and using ellipses instead of words… You can find her on Facebook and blogging at Short on Words.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Patti on Whidbey Island March 29, 2015

I love to shoot through things. I am an amateur for sure. But afternoon I was following a beautiful suns. I don’t know why but I stared to shoot it through weeds, rocks, trees & my personal favorite…an old high up pier! I shot through the pilings that hold it up. I shot through the railings. I shot through both at the same time. They’re still some of my favorite photos I have ever taken. I try to shoot through things every chance I get.
Thank you for sharing with us. I really love how simple you make things for us novice photographers.

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David K. Sutton March 5, 2014

Great examples here. Shooting through things is so obvious after you discover it, yet it’s exactly what many new photographers avoid doing. And I guess it kind of makes sense why people would avoid it, because why would you distract from your main subject or even partially obscure it? But shooting through things adds perspective, emotion, character, and it serves as a way to anchor your subject and offer a glimpse into the world that surrounds your subject. But even though I know all of this, I still have to remind myself to do this more often!

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Karli Harrison April 17, 2013

I love this post! You put it so simply and easy to understand, with fantastic examples. I do this all the time and get the strangest looks from my clients, I hide in things, I lay on the ground, I stand on chairs, I take pictures of reflections in mirrors on walls… You do get some odd looks, but the pictures are always so much more interesting!

I wish I had read this when I was just starting out. :)

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Christina Elenbaas April 16, 2013

Love the inspiration here. I have a shoot this weekend and will definitely keep this on my mind to create some fun creative shots, this for sharing!

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Amanda Morse April 16, 2013

I love it! Lately I have loved to shot through my peanut’s jumper with it’s toy and support archs it’s just perfect for framing her adorable little self.

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Amy Locurto June 8, 2012

LOVE this: RT @iheartfaces: Photo Composition Tips | Shoot Through Things http://t.co/K8zNKbYm

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Elena April 5, 2012

Great post/tips. I think one of my favorite thing to do is shoot through things; they are by far the most interesting shots!

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Zoe March 17, 2012

Thanks for all the great ideas! I love to take pics of my son at his little league games through the fence. The fence adds a really cool frame around him. 😀

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Caroline (Frogmum/TMFH) February 28, 2012
Caroline (Frogmum/TMFH) February 28, 2012

Great post Susan 😀 I love to try and shoot through things. Here’s one I took just this morning ~ entitled “through the mayhem!”

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Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) February 25, 2012

I love this post. I love the idea of ” shooting through.” It makes photos feel so much more intimate and intriguing. Loved your examples! I have a few “shoot through” pictures in these two posts below. Please just delete this comment if it’s not appropriate to share the links. I’m just soaking up everything “photography” right now having just switched over to using my manual settings a lot more. :)
Through a gate: http://betweennapsontheporch.blogspot.com/2010/05/between-rivers-on-pink-saturday.html
Through the handle of a pitcher: http://betweennapsontheporch.blogspot.com/2009/08/welcome-to-50th-tablescape-thursday.html

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Angie February 22, 2012

Great tutorial from Susan Keller on @iheartfaces – a reminder to shoot through things! http://t.co/af4flZ3M

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Julie February 22, 2012

Such a nice collection of composing tips! Thanks for sharing these useful advices!

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Patrizia Corriero February 22, 2012

RT @iheartfaces: Photo Composition Tips -Shoot Through Things http://t.co/IGcbZDgq #photog

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Sharon {Grumpy, Sleepy, and Bashful} February 22, 2012

I love the tip, and all the incredible examples. I am trying to learn to take more interesting photos. It’s hard sometimes to move around enough to get different and unique shots. I LOVE this idea!

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Simple Girl February 21, 2012

Susan, I just love all your tips, as usual! Thanks so much for sharing your stellar knowledge!

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Amy Dawson February 21, 2012

I loved this article ! Thank you for reminding us that its “ok” to shoot thru !! Some of my all time favorite photos I’ve taken, not only of clients, but of MYSELF (gasp ! The horror I know… lol!!) have been shot thru other items… car mirrors, car hood reflection (awesome w/the spring tree blooms I might add!), mirrors and a homes window… loved them all, and will continue to look outside the box and shoot thru. Rock on peeps… rock on. :)

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Michelle Jackson February 21, 2012

Great ideas! My favorite photo of my husband – I shot it through the pickup, so he’s framed by the window. He’s such a pickup man. :)

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Virginia C. Ferguson February 21, 2012

Thanks! You are truly an inspiration to us newbies!!!

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Carmen February 21, 2012

I always loved the intriguing look of a subject being framed by practically anything! And this is definitely one of my personal challenges I want to remember doing when documenting with photos. I like to shoot thru the rearview and side mirrors of a car. I shot a beautiful sunset that way (of course when I’m not driving) safety first! lol. I don’t personally have a favorite, but I do love looking at pictures that have that extra dimension, I think it helps to tell a story from a different perspective. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post!!

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Kristy February 21, 2012

I love this! Thanks!

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Heidi Leggett February 21, 2012

This was great! Thanks! IS there anything you all don’t think of!

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Jessica P February 21, 2012

Love this, I always add one of these types of photos to my sessions for character!

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Christine February 21, 2012

I regularly shoot through things. It’s something I’m working on; I love the look of it, but I can never get the composition right so that the thing shot through isn’t distracting.

Just this morning I tried to get a picture of my 14 month old playing in her carseat through the grate of my headrest support. Of course, using my phone probably isn’t the best camera choice, but it was what I had on me.

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Krista lafave February 21, 2012

Great advice!! Thank you so much from an amateur photo maniac!! Can’t wait to try these out! Your pictures are beautiful!

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Life with Kaishon February 21, 2012

Really great advice : ) Thank you for sharing Skeller!

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Tracy P. February 21, 2012

Thank you for putting all these examples into one post! I do shoot through things, but often it’s more of an afterthought than something I do intentionally. This post illustrates the idea so beautifully, Susan. Most often I think I’m shooting through the clutter in my kitchen. :-)

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