Making Memories in 2012 | Week 3 – B is for Background

This week we’re continuing with the ABCs of Composition in our photos:




Remember that composition refers to what makes up the photo. It can take a shot from meh to good or from good to great. But it requires looking through the viewfinder and taking a few moments to think about “ABC” before just snapping.

So let’s talk about the background.


It’s the 4th of July and you and your family and friends are having a great time at a BBQ when your Cousin Jenny wants a shot with her sisters. She hands you her camera and they squeeze together. You snap the photo and kick yourself when you realize a couple days later that they were standing in front of the parked cars…in particular your brother’s junky, mud covered truck. And there’s a bush right behind Jenny that makes it look like she’s wearing it as a hat. If you had taken a moment and looked beyond your subjects when you were taking the photo, you could have avoided those hiccups and made the photo frame worthy.

You want the cleanest, least cluttered “set” to take the picture. Find a blank wall, a fence, a tall hedgerow. Not seeing any? Combine B with A and work with angles. Stand on a chair or picnic table and have them sit or lay down on the ground with their heads in the center. It’s fun, they’ll laugh, and by shooting down, the background is now the grass, a picnic blanket, or the asphalt.

Your assignment this weekend is to take a picture with the background in mind. Whether it’s taking a second to declutter or scootch a step to the right to keep that tree from “growing” out of your subject’s head, or finding a unique background that enhances your image instead of distracting from the subject.



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