Skip to main content

Filling Your Frame

Lesson 9 from: Family Photography: Creating a Successful Business

Kirsten Lewis

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

9. Filling Your Frame


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


What Makes a Picture Successful?


Technical Tips: ISO


Technical Tips: Aperture


Technical Tips: Shutter Speed


Technical Tips: Focus


Using Light to Tell a Story


Using Composition to Tell a Story


Lesson Info

Filling Your Frame

Fill your frame with important information. Using a 35, in my opinion, is the best go-to. I like the 28 too but I think that the is a little bit better. And the reason why, it's the mostly the go-to for photojournalists. It's as the closest that our eye, our natural eye, sees. So it's the closest to real life that we can show in a photo, is that 35 millimeter. If you need to get closer, use your feet as telephoto lens, and just get closer. What's the advantage to that? Physically getting closer to your subjects is gonna create more intimacy visually with your photograph. And this, I think, is the biggest question with most people that I mentor. I just don't know what to include and what not to include, I have no idea when to be close and when to be far. Think about what you're emphasizing. Think about the story you want to tell. I chose to get close and have a lot of negative space here because I wanted to emphasize that she has a big giant knot in her hair and she's trying to pull it...

out. I don't care about anything else. So I'm getting close because that's the only thing that's important to me in terms of the viewer reading it. I'm getting far because I think it's really funny and weird that she's reading like this by herself in the living room. So I'm far because I need more information in the frame to add to the story. I'm low and close because I don't think you need to see anything else to read this. I think the thing that was so important or funny or interesting is that mom is "hurry up, hurry up, hurry up," and that's where the crossed legs can help to gesture or to read, it adds to the story. Here, I wanted to shoot far, I wanted more context, I wanted more information. This is a bagel place they go every time. What I think is so funny is the dog is holding his own leash in his mouth. We've got a good moment here with the baby. And you know, they're busy trying to get her in her stroller. This will also be important to them but I like this environment for those that live in New York that I might try and entice to hire me. Think about your corners. I'm gonna talk about this a lot. Think about filling your frame corner to corner. Look at your corners, do we have good balance in your corners. It can really help in terms of composition. I purposely put him in one corner and him in the other so you can read the tension all the way across the frame. Same kid, very funny kid. Filling it corner to corner. I have a nice weight here and then I balanced it with the corner over there. Corner to corner. Dad's sliding out of the corner, and the kids are laughing in this top corner. And negative space can be really powerful when you need it. Leaving a lot of empty space. This is an environmental portrait. I find it really interesting that she's taking a bath and both cats are just hanging out. I didn't think I needed anything below. I felt that the darkness of the negative space helped to weight the image down with the eye. So eye naturally goes here to what's important to me. Lots of negative space. I don't think you need to see anything else to know these are kids, they're at a t-ball game. Actually t-ball practice. I sometimes have just gorgeous pockets of light and so the way that I can isolate or emphasize what he's doing with that light is to leave a lot of negative dark space around him. Again, isolation, seclusion. Dad and older son just hanging out by the fire. I choose to leave a lot of environment to suggest that they are alone. And you guys, I talked about this in my first class. Just watch your edges, okay? I love this photo that someone submitted. He needs a peg leg (laughs). You chopped his leg off. This would be a situation, and I'm not a stickler for it like I used to be, but in this situation, I think you can pay attention to the leg and try and include the leg here. Or get real tight and have just this information. But sometimes it feels a little off if it's really close to the joint, cutting off an arm, a leg, by the ankle or by the knee. We talked about the merging. Someone else brought it up. When getting on the highway, avoid the collision if you can. This had a really good idea coming. This is from one of you guys. But what is the one thing that's taking away from the image? This merge right here. So, in situations like this, you have a good idea and sometimes you're just screwed because you cannot move the faucet, right? So you can only hope that you can move over or they move over or you just have to say good bye to this idea and say, it was a good idea, maybe I'll come back to it later if they're looking out. But, that is really hurting the photo.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Fearless and Framed Marketing Bundle

Ratings and Reviews


I own Kirsten's 3 classes. And they are ALL amazing, inspiring and refreshing. She is not only a super talented photographer but an amazing teacher and person as well. I have learned so much from each one of her classes. I have never met a photographer so willing to share and see their students succeed. I highly recommend people not only to buy this class, but all 3! I would not be the photographer I am today if it wasn’t for her. After following her advise for the last 3 years I am finally engaging with the audience I want and I feel true to myself in the way I shoot. This makes a huge difference in my everyday. I am am truly grateful to this photo wizard lady. ps: warning, make sure you are on birth control. These classes might make you want to have children, just to get amazing images like the ones she takes LOL (joking) #not

Carrie Littauer

This workshop was by far the best photography workshop I have ever been a part of. Kirsten's work, her humor, her authenticity, her expertise and perspective will forever change the way I work with families and go about documentary photography. I am so motivated and inspired to dig deeper into my role as a photographer, and as a person, to make a real difference in the lives of those that I photograph and with my art. I'm thrilled to have been in the LIVE studio and am so grateful for Creative Live for giving phenomenal artists like Kirsten this exposure and opportunity to teach other creatives like myself! Thank you.

Johanne Lila

In the very minutes Kirsten Lewis' first class (first of three) for cL aired, I realized I needed in on this awesomeness. I became a 1 Year Mentorship student with her right away, and now I have been so incredibly fortunate to be in the studio audience for the live taping of her final class (or the third of the three, who knows what the future might hold!). For me as a 'Kirsten Lewis alumni' taking this class was perfect. I was reminded of things I knew, but had forgotten. I learned a ton of new stuff. But most of all, I remembered why we do this work in the first place: The love that is right there in the reality of life. How much this work matters to real families out there. And how much it matters to keep getting better at this, to give our families better work. I will be forever greatful that I chose the best mentor, Kirsten is such a gift to all of us. And if you're still in doubt: This class is AMAZING! If you're new, if you've at it for a while, if you're alumni: Gold is HERE!

Student Work