Feature Image by: Liam Van Den Berk // @liamvandenberk

How to Master the Art of Framing - Liam Van Den Berk

25th June 2020
“I don’t believe anyone can completely and wholly master the art of framing. I’m hoping that by sharing some secrets of my own particular style as well as trial and error, I can inspire and guide you as you begin to master your own craft.”
by Liam Van Den Berk Video Production & Director of Photography

Chapter One

Location
When it comes to the perfect image, the first thing that comes to mind is where I choose to capture my photograph. I like my images to be naturally magical, and this has a large part to do with the following factors:

  • Weather
  • Surrounding landscape

I’m a sucker for rocks, dense forestry, mountains and rough seas. When it comes to finding these locations, I use movies, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and (my best friend in the photography game) Google Maps.

I like to compliment my locations with an overcast day, partial clouds or low lighting in the early morning and late evening. You’ll never catch me shooting in the middle of a sunny day. Shooting in limited lighting will soften and even out my exposure, with no blown-out highlights.

These factors craft the perfect mood for my images.

Glowworms
 

Chapter Two

Wardrobe | Props
Equally important is what I like my subjects in frame to be holding and wearing. My style leans towards muted toned items, with the occasional hint of red to invoke passion, love and mystery in the photograph. The muted wardrobe helps to soften the scene, while the colour leads the audience towards the subject of the photo.

Sometimes, it's not always the person in the middle of the frame that I want the viewers to look at but rather what surrounds the subject. The choice of clothing is a great way to move a person's eyes around a photograph to where you choose.

I have a weird fascination for hoarding props. I like to collect antiques during my travels - old maps from the 1940s, coins from all areas of the globe, bone dominoes and plenty more. I use these artefacts for flat lays and props in shoots because they give a vintage vibe to my photos.

 

Chapter Three

Rule Of Thirds
The rule of thirds is a great starting point on every photo I capture, keeping within the guidelines for a strong compositional photograph and breaking them both lead to a great image. I have two examples below, one a portrait and the other a landscape.

I line up my landscapes both horizontally and vertically within the in-camera grid, keeping the main subject in the center. When it comes to close-up portraiture, I personally like to keep the subject’s eyes in the upper third of my in-camera grid. Be sure to give your image room to breathe, you can do this by having an even amount of space on all four sides of your subject.

 

Chapter Four

Post Production | Colour Grading
To me, colour is the most important part of completing a storytelling image as it can really set the tone, persuasion and emotion behind the photograph. I like to use a variety of blue shades in my shadows and warmer tones in my highlights. All of my hues remain as they are shot in-camera to help maintain a natural image.

Attached is a muted colour table for reference of colours I lean towards.

 

Chapter Five

Equipment
My go-to camera setup is a Canon EOS 1DX Mark II with an EF 24-70mm F2.8L II USM Lens. The main reason I chose this camera specifically is due to the 1DX video specifications, however the image quality is also second to none. I also have considered and photographed using the Canon EOS R and Canon EOS 5 Mark IV, both with impeccable results.

The EF 24-70mm F2.8L II USM ticks all the boxes for me; sharp and fast with a variety of focal lengths. I use the lens at 70mm to pull subjects in nice, tight framing situations, or at 24mm to concentrate more on landscape images. The low aperture of F2.8 helps plenty with low light occasions. If you’re on a bit of a budget and are looking to only delve into portraiture, I’d recommend the EF 50mm F1.4 USM lens for buttery smooth imagery and plenty of versatility.

I would highly recommend the above equipment to anyone who wants camera gear that is built like a brick and can handle some of the harshest weather conditions in New Zealand.

 

Who is Liam Van Den Berk?

Liam Van Den Berk's distinct nostalgic style has captured the attention of many. He has been able to utilize his spirit of creativity and adventure by shooting some of the most notable brands in New Zealand. Liam’s goal is to bring your pride and joy to life through his unique 'storytelling' approach.

Links: liamvandenberk.com | @liamvandenberk

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