Nancy Pedri, who is Associate Professor in the Department of English and Literature at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, is a comparatist. And, as such, is one of the few scholars to have examined the implications of empty photographic frames in multimodal narratives.
“In its capacity to open up the possibility for variance in meaning, the empty frame serves as a boundary that distinguishes a focused showing and seeing from an indeterminate, wondering seeing. Its contours highlight the fact that something must be perceived or seen, but that that something comes not from within the frame, not from what is imaged on the photograph’s surface, but rather from outside of it. It is in this sense that the frame accentuates absence and incompleteness as crucial to photographic meaning.”
See: ‘Empty Photographic Frames. Punctuating the Narrative’ in IMAGE [&] NARRATIVE, Vol 15, No 2 (2014).
Note: The example empty frame, reproduced in the paper, is from ‘The Collected Works of Billy the Kid’, by Michael Ondaatje.