John Bishop Images
September 13, 2020
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The Basics of Photo Backgrounds

Author: Administrator
One of the most important elements of a photograph is often the one that is the most frequently overlooked. The background of an image can do many things- it can help establish context for the image, add emotion or feeling and strengthen the narrative of the picture. When taking pictures, it's important to know how your background will impact your picture and how you can use it to your advantage.

Look at the Background

The next time you have that perfect photo lined up in your frame and you're about to hit the shutter button, take a second to examine the background. Are there any distracting people or objects behind your subject? Are there any noticeable or loud colors that bring your attention away from the subject? Is there a tree or light pole coming out of the person's head? Every time you photograph you should be thinking about these things, and with your handy mental checklist they'll be a lot easier to avoid.

Crop Inside Your Camera

Framing is an incredibly important part of the art of photography. Many bad backgrounds can be avoided altogether simply by framing the picture differently and having the subject take up most of the picture. Don't forget that you really don't need a background with every shot- a background is simply an option that's available to enhance your image. If you can try to make the decision to crop while you're shooting instead of after the fact.

Get Moving

If you don't like the looks of your background than it's time to start moving and find a better angle. In just about every case, you can always find a way to avoid a bad background. Additionally, shifting the angle around a bit may give you new inspiration on how to make good use of the background, and will also help you create unique and interesting photographs.

Be Resourceful

While studio photographers have long relied on backdrops to help enhance their portraits, there are plenty of incredible opportunities to be found right in the environment. Any time you're taking picture of someone, take a look at the area around you to see if there is anything that will help to enhance the picture. For example, don't include a swing set in the background unless you're going to have your subject sitting in it? Consider the background to be another character in your photographs and utilize it whenever possible.

Playing Around with the Depth of Field

It is important that the inclusion of a background is a choice made by the photographer, and not something that just "happens." You can play with the depth of field of your photograph by using different shutter speeds, so feel free to blur out the background with shallow depth of field if you feel that it isn't important or will be distracting. Additionally, people interpret depth of field differently depending on the image, so try to think of ways that manipulating it can tell a more powerful story.

Many photographers spend so much time worrying about capturing their subjects that they completely overlook the background. If you use backgrounds properly they can make a shot look great, while ignoring a background can make a bad shot even worse.. When it comes right down to it, the photographer is really responsible for every element of the picture. If you have a background that is distracting to your image, it's your job to either make it work or get rid of it. Backgrounds can be difficult, but if you're paying attention you will soon learn to use them without thinking.


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