Depth of field has been an important part of film poster design for a very long time. An important storytelling device, shorter or longer depths of field can effectively and powerfully convey elements of the story world as well as narrative, genre and tone.  

However, recently, I have been noticing some changes in the way film poster designs are utilising depth of field. And an exciting trend of using dominant imagery in the extreme foreground is emerging! 

Whilst film posters have often employed a longer depth of field to achieve an immersive effect, this technique has traditionally relied on imagery stretching further away from the viewer. But placing objects and people right in the foreground is immersive in a completely different way – rather than been slowly drawn into the action – the story is coming for you! Below, I share a few brilliant examples.

The Edge of Everything

Now I personally don’t find snooker the most exhilarating of sports. But this beautifully simple poster throws the audience right into the heart of the drama as we are dwarfed by the out of focus ball looming ominously in the foreground.

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s laser focused gaze suggests an honest, no-holds barred look at his life and the colour contrast of the bright green of the baize with darker colours in the palette indicate that this story may have a sombre tone too.

Poster design by Intermission Film


Once again, the character in the poster is at a distance – but the dilemma posed couldn’t feel closer. Positioning the audience in a place of (relative) safety on the other end of a line that the astronaut is just out of reach from clearly implicates us in the action and gives us a feeling of frustration and impotence, as we can’t help them.

A very dark palette highlighted only by the line and the stormy glow of the earth below hints at a dark and dramatic narrative where everything is at stake.

Poster design by MOCEAN


Pulling the audience into the foreground tends to place us exactly where we  don’t want to be and this one’s no exception. The blurred hand holding a gun feels uncomfortably voyeuristic and with the boat in sight, it feels as if we are about to witness something.

The distinct shapes of the imagery create a strong silhouette, so even at a distance this is a story that is difficult to escape from.

Poster design by Paramount+

The Good Mother

This example more clearly evokes a character driven story. A police car and cordon lurk in the background whilst Hilary Swank stares at us suspiciously. Two other characters crowded in the foreground remain oblivious to us suggesting that Swank is the only one who can discover the truth.

The whole poster incorporates a very muted colour palette but still finds range within that as well as the sharpness of the photography to draw our eye to Swank at the centre.

The League

Aah! The story told in this poster feels a lot less sinister than some of the other examples, but it’s no less inescapable. The limited use of colour spinning out of a black and white photograph at us implies a story from the past that still resonates today.

It’s particularly powerful to use a foreground object so clearly in motion – the poster is giving you an explicit choice: step aside or step up.

It’s apparent from these posters that depth of field can be stretched in more than one direction to create fresh and dynamic work. And from what I have seen – this approach is still evolving! In a market saturated by more and more films (and indeed, film posters), these posters can capture audiences by making them part of the story at just a single glance.

What do you think about this technique? A passing fad or here to stay? Have you seen any recent posters that use the extreme foreground in a memorable way? Let me – and everyone else – know in the comments!

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