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Informing Contexts – Frames

When Claude and Gilpin were on their travels around the Lake District and the Isle of Wight in the 18th century, they took a frame to look through when taking their photographs. As a photographer, I am planning to use the frame to focus the gaze of the viewer. Using a frame within a frame in a photograph is a good way to lead my viewers’ eyes to the point I want them to look at in a photograph. This way I can add depth and context to the image whilst clarifying the focus of the image.

Using frames within a photograph is nothing new.  Man Ray produced a stunning image in 1930 (figure 1) whose subject was a female’s legs sticking through a frame.

Figure 1: Man Ray. Jambes dans un cadre/ Legs in a Frame, ca.1930


Figure 2: Robert Mapplethorpe. 1986. Andy Warhol 


In 1986, Robert Mapplethorpe produced an image of Andy Warhol where Warhol appears angelic and idolized (figure 2). The halo effect (made using a vignette frame) around Warhol’s head has been used very effectively by Mapplethorpe.

The portrait is beautifully framed and striking to look at.

Other photographers who have used frames within frames include Philippe Halsman (figure 3) and Dianora Niccolini (figures 3 and 4).  Each of their images is  successful and has given me ideas of how I could potentially use a frame within a photograph.


Figure 3: Philippe Halsman. 1949. French poet, artist and filmmaker Jean Cocteau with actress Ricki Soma and dancer Leo Coleman


Figure 4: Frames ©D Niccolini


Figure 5: Hoops ©D Niccolini


Frames are used in film and cinema to help directly the viewer’s gaze to something key in the scene.  As a photographer, if I can position my subject and the frame in just the right spot, I will be able to master the art of creating a beautiful cinematic frame within a frame.


Examples of frames in cinema include The Graduate’s iconic scene where Benjamin is seen through Mrs. Robinson’s legs.


Figure 6: Robert Sourtees. From The Graduate. 1967


When planning shoots with frames, I will use the following questions to help me determine the best shots to take:-

  1. Will the frame add drama to the photograph?

  2. Will the frame help the narrative of the image?

  3. Will the frame the frame help to illustrate or enhance the focal point of the photo?

I intend to use frames as a prop to distract the subject of my photographic but also as a key part of the narrative of the image.  Fun times ahead experimenting.

REFERENCES

Figure 1: Ray, M. Jambes dans un cadre/ Legs in a Frame, ca.1930. From My Favorite Arts. 2017. Artwork by Man Ray – Jambes dans un cadre/ Legs in a Frame, ca.1930, | Photography | Artstack – art online . [ONLINE] Available at: https://theartstack.com/artist/man-ray/jambes-dans-un-cadre-le. [Accessed 10 February 2017].


Figure 2: Robert Mapplethorpe. 1986. Andy Warhol. From exhibit-E.com. 2017. The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation – Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art – October 17, 2015 – January 24, 2016. [online] Available at: http://www.mapplethorpe.org/exhibitions/2015-10-17_wadsworth-atheneum- museum-of-art/. [Accessed 10 February 2017].


Figure 3: Philippe Halsman. 1949. French poet, artist and filmmaker Jean Cocteau with actress Ricki Soma and dancer Leo Coleman. From Pictify. (2017). Poet, artist and filmmaker Jean Cocteau with American actress Ricki Soma and American dancer Leo Coleman by Philippe Halsman on artnet. [online] Available at: http://pictify.saatchigallery.com/1115045/poet-artist-and-filmmaker-jean-cocteau- with-american-actress-ricki-soma-and-american-dancer-leo-coleman-by-philippe- halsman-on-artnet [Accessed 10 February 2017].


Figure 4: D Niccolini. Frames. Of Myth and Men: The Photography of Dianora Niccolini | Professional Women Photographers Blog. 2017. Of Myth and Men: The Photography of Dianora Niccolini | Professional Women Photographers Blog. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.pwponline.org/blog/2011/11/29/of-myth-and-men-the-photography-of-dianora-niccolini/. [Accessed 10 February 2017].


Figure 5: D Niccolini. Hoops. Of Myth and Men: The Photography of Dianora Niccolini | Professional Women Photographers Blog. 2017. Of Myth and Men: The Photography of Dianora Niccolini | Professional Women Photographers Blog. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.pwponline.org/blog/2011/11/29/of-myth-and-men-the-photography-of-dianora-niccolini/. [Accessed 10 February 2017].


Figure 6: Film Still from The Graduate.  From beatlely. 2017. THe GraDuate | beatlely. [ONLINE] Available at: https://beatlely.wordpress.com/tag/the-graduate/. [Accessed 10 February 2017].


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