Quick Tip: Pay Attention To Your Background

When you bring that camera up to your eye and line up that perfect shot in your frame… STOP! Take an extra look at the rest of your scene and make sure the background isn’t going to ruin the photo. It’s easy to pay close attention to the main subject, but everything else in that composition plays an important part in making a great photo. If the background is too distracting, it becomes the main subject — in a bad way. If the background is too empty, it can make the photo feel empty too.

I’ve ruined enough of my own photos in the past that it’s become a habit of mine to double check my background and every edge of the frame. Our eyes are naturally drawn to the center of the scene, and it’s quite easy to miss things along the edges or off in the distance. Don’t let your photos get mucked up by unintentional background items — You’re the photographer; you’re in control.

This entry was posted in Composition, Quick-Tip on by .

About Brian Auer

a photography enthusiast from North Idaho. He's also the guy behind the Epic Edits Weblog. As a hobbyist photographer since 2003, his passion has been to constantly improve his photography skill set, to share his own knowledge with others, and to become an integral part of the photographic community.

5 thoughts on “Quick Tip: Pay Attention To Your Background

  1. Jim Goldstein

    In order to manage a distracting background there are a few factors to consider:
    1. What is your chosen f-stop to manage your depth of field.
    2. What lens are you using and what kind of bokeh will it produce?
    3. Are there color or contrast distractions between your subject and background?
    4. Can you move to avoid a conflict between background and foreground?

    Sometimes #4 isn’t required if you can manage the DOF correctly.

    As for being in control… that is true, but its impossible sometimes to catch every distracting element to a photo. Looking through a viewfinder is not the easiest of tasks sometimes, particularly when looking for very minute problem areas. Counter to my recent post on how much photographers shoot, it pays to get a variety of shots slightly different than the one previous to give yourself options as to which image is the ideal candidate. If all else fails if you miss something on your edges then you can always clone it out with Photoshop. I can’t believe I just said that :)

  2. Brian Auer Post author

    Well said Jim, and great tips for controlling your background. It seems like no matter how careful I am, there’s always the occasional something that slips by. As for cloning, I’ve never been really good at it — don’t know why, I just can’t do it well. Maybe that’s a good thing though.

  3. Tim Solley

    Let’s not forget that for those of us shooting with cameras with a viewfinder that doesn’t cover 100% of the frame, that you should also pay attention to what might show up on the fringes of the shot that you can’t see when looking through the viewfinder. I’ve had more than one shot ruined because something showed up that wasn’t in the viewfinder.

  4. Brian Auer Post author

    That’s a good point, most camera viewfinders don’t show more than 90 or 95% of the actual frame. Of course, it’s always easier to take care of things on the edges (cropping) than in the middle of the frame (cloning).

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