Photography, Tutorials

What is Behind your Photograph is as Important as in Front


It is not a nice feeling when I get home and look at that one photograph that I thought would be amazing only to see that the background was awful.  So what can I do?

Quite often I find a brilliant subject for a photo only to be destroyed by an awful background or colours that would affect the final shot.  The background is very important to the final picture in the sense that can either add to the overall photo taken or detract from the subject, and on the internet, there is no shortage of potentially fantastic images that have a backdrop that has ruined the final image.  On the other hand, we can always spend a few hours in photoshop and give ourselves the perfect backdrop but, why spend hours when a few extra seconds just looking around a subject can turn those hours into a few minutes or so.


Some Tips

Maybe consider taking a few photographs at different angles with different apertures, a blurry background will often make the subject stand out.

Also, look at the viewfinder, the whole rectangle, and visualize the finished photo.  Not the subjects or subject but every little bit of that box.

So what do I do?

  • I look around my subject for that angle that gives a nice background.  For example, a sun setting behind a fishing boat.
  • If I can not find that angle, I avoid clashing colors. ie: A red flower probably would not look good with a blue backdrop
  • If I still cannot find the angle, I look at an angle where the background is as far away as possible and reduce my aperture to get a very blurry backdrop.
  • And if still an angle is not found, I will consider photoshop.

Here are two example of closely choosing the backdrop to achieve the effect of the subjects standing out.

Clear Chosen Backgrounds
Clear Chosen Backgrounds

So next time you find that amazing shot, quickly glance around and see if the background can be improved.
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43 thoughts on “What is Behind your Photograph is as Important as in Front

  1. These are some great tips, it is amazing how much difference the background can make, I really need to try and work on getting clearer and better photographs as it can be such a big part of blogging. Just trying a different angle seems so easy to do as well.

  2. Do you know, it’s funny that I am reading this post now because this is something that I have literally just started to do! It makes your shots so much better having that perfect backdrop.

    1. It really does, sometimes adding or removing things behind the object can help. Like pulling a branch out of the way or putting a toy in the frame:) I will be covering composition very soon.

  3. I have found that sometimes I take a photo which I think is good and then when I come home its actually turned out differently. Sometimes it is all about composition and I look forward to hearing your tips on how to compose the perfect photo soon!

  4. Great tips! I do hate it when your pictures don’t turn out as amazing as good hoped and you don’t have the chance to redo them. Will be implementing some of these most definitely

    1. I think nowadays it’s even easier with digital cameras. We can take loads of photos from every angle, try different apertures etc without the constraint of running out of film.

  5. Lots of great tips here. We really focused on our photos in 2017 and focusing on what’s in the background is so important.

  6. [* Shield plugin marked this comment as “0”. Reason: Human SPAM filter found “” in “url” *]
    Some great advice thank you. I just find all the features on a camera and the explanations as to what they are for too techy.

    1. Best advice is to start with one setting on the camera at a time and exploit it before moving on to the next one. The most common two are aperture priority and shutter priority. A good two to start with:)

  7. Taking photos from different angles is a really great tip – I also change up my aperture between each photo as (being a complete amateur) I feel it helps me get more of a feel for my camera and what makes a good picture to compare shots against each other.

    C x

  8. I find lots of my restaurant pics are ruined because of what’s going on in the background yet if you crop other people out, you lose all the atmosphere. I think staging the shot if possible would help but it’s often tricky in a noisy, busy environment.

    1. Staging shots is an ideal. What can work with nice lighting is a wider aperture so the background is blurry, not too much so that it is unrecognizable but also not too less so that the photo becomes over cluttered with objects.

  9. I totally agree that the background can make or break a photo. I take hundreds of snaps a day, but only a few make my social stream as I’m so critical of myself.

    Louise x

  10. This is such good advice, despite having taken blog photos for years now there is always room for improvement and whilst I considers angles whilst taking photos I don’t always take in the background so I will definitely be keeping a better eye on this

  11. Hi Alan,
    This is a great post, really appreciate the ton of work you’ve placed into putting this high-quality article. I have learned so much. I love it:). Thanks for sharing this post.

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