Introduction: Framed! the Art of Window Photography

About: At the Eureka! Factory, we love making things, and thinking about things, and learning about things, and enjoy helping empower others to a curiosity driven life, too, so we can all live and learn in meaningful…

At Eureka! Factory, we've always loved photography. Going back a couple of generations, one grandparent was an itinerant photographer, traveling about shooting portraits in different towns, and our collection of tintypes shows a family love of photography dating to the mid-1800s. The first job, for one of us, was as a photographer's assistant working for one of the first one day photo studios (well before the advent of one hour photos!). Today, you can find some of our work on a Fine Art America site. And of course, photography is indispensable in telling our maker stories here on Instructables, as well in our day to day work.

One of the things we've learned over the years, is that photography doesn't have to be complicated to be meaningful and memorable. And today, with the fantastic quality photography available right from your cell phone, it's easier than ever to create beautiful, thoughtfully composed images that tell powerful stories.

One of the most compelling ways we've found to compose images is through and with windows - not the Microsoft kind, but the glass-paned ones. Scenes through windows put the viewer where you are - or were - and tell stories that unframed shots may not convey. They give you that sense of glancing up or out, or looking in.

In this Instructable, we'll look at a few different types of compositions and ways to capture a moment using windows.

Step 1: Go Inside and Look Out

Photos through windows is an especially nice technique when traveling. In the first set of photos, there's a Maine lighthouse alone, and again through a window. The window gives a different perspective, and a different memory. When we see the window view, we remember we were in the little lighthouse museum at the end of the boardwalk.

Same with the photos of Whittier, Alaska. The landscape shot of the dreary, fogged in port is kind of nice by itself. But looking at a similar view in Whittier though the neon trimmed window of a little restaurant there, streaked with condensation and with fresh flowers on the window sill, tells a different story - that there was a warm, sheltered place there - and we remember the restaurant as well as the foggy landscape.

Step 2: Go Outside and Look In

This is especially a nice technique around historic homes, since the windows are often "dressed" for visitors. Take your time and look for the right angles, since reflections on the windows outside can be both artistic and distracting. In the case of the chess table shot, it's not immediately obvious that the photo was taken through a window, but in this case, the slight dirty imperfections in the glass created a nice light vignette effect.

Step 3: Inside Out

Sometimes the view is thoughtful in both directions. In this case, this is the same window, seen from both inside and outside the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings House in Cross Creek.

Step 4: Windows As Art

Sometimes the windows themselves are art. The Antique Shoppe window with the view of the sign outside and the decorations on the window itself are pretty enough and offer a different view of Tarpon Springs, as does the view with the conch shells on the shelf. The multicolored window panes from the Ringling Museum in Sarasota give yet another view of the Circus and Art Museum grounds - in perfect keeping with "circus" and "art."

Step 5: Others Looking In

Sometimes the story of the window as barrier is compelling, as in the cases of the bird and the frog here.

Step 6: Enjoy the View

With the exception of the frog in the previous step, all of the photos in this Instructable were made using natural light, just as they appeared when viewing each scene in person, and that's what makes each of the photos, to us, so memorable. Each one, looking in or out a window, reminds us of a special moment, in a special place, and puts us there again, every time we see the image.

So enjoy the view through your own windows, and share some of your images and stories here with us!

And check out our Quick and Easy Tabletop Photo Studio for another photography resource.

Photography Tips and Tricks Contest

Participated in the
Photography Tips and Tricks Contest