A picture is not just about the subject. It is also about the background. While other people are not that concerned about the background, photographers are. The background of a photo greatly affects the entire look of the image. It could either make or break the photo. We are certain that most of you could observe that but some might not be able to see its value.

In taking a picture, you would first look for a subject. When you have decided about a subject, the next thing that you will look for is a good background and foreground. A foreground is the area in front of the subject while a background is the area behind the subject. These are two things that you need to bear in mind when taking a photo. But in this post we are going to talk about the background. You can see the value of a background if you try to get a photograph and take a look into it. Now, let us try to create a list of what a background could do for a photo and other tips about backgrounds.

What Backgrounds Do

What Backgrounds Do

A background can do a lot of things to your photo aside from adding appeal to it. As a matter of fact, the background can even be the foreground at times. Other than that, it can also do other things like:

1. Emphasize the subject. Your background photo could highlight your subject. This will happen especially if you have a plain background like a mere white or black backdrop. This will free the image from any distraction. But a complicated background could also give more value to your subject especially if it fits well with it. It also adds drama to your image.

2. Relays a clear message and story. Every photo is a story. You can create a story through the background. Notice that a change in background can affect the entire story of the photo. That is why you have to choose a good background really well.

3. Shows the setting and location. Since a photo is a story, it has a setting. A setting can tell the time and place of the photo like a picture of a woman sitting on a hammock reading a book while the sun’s rays touches her hair. Or the subject could be a tree standing still with a full moon on the background. Looking at these photos can tell you if its day or night or noon because of the background.

What You Can Use As Background

There are different ways to enhance a photograph through backgrounds. You would need a good background not just for posed shot but even for candid ones. Take a look at the list below for some ideas on what you can use as a background for your photos:

Natural environment

1. Natural environment.

It would be easier if you just use the background around you whether you are indoors or outdoors. But be sure to always capture a good background. Choose a beautiful set up and always bear in mind the kind of message or story you want to give the photo. This will help you choose a good background.

2. Fabrics.

You can bring with you some colorful fabrics. These work well as a backdrop especially if you want to focus on the subject. This can also save you if you cannot find a good natural background. You can stretch the fabric at the back of the subject or you can also make it look more dramatic by throwing colorful fabrics on the background to add more life to the image. This will also make it look more lively and creative!

3. DIY backdrops.

There are so many DIY backdrops that you can create by yourself. You can try using paper by making some paper pinwheels and others then place it on a wall. You can also try other materials too. You would surely have a great time making those backgrounds. Some photographers even combine various materials to mimic a natural setting.

Digital backdrops

4. Digital backdrops.

This is usually used especially for special occasions. Printed digital backdrops can also look great. Just make sure that these are designed well. Pick a good graphic designer or you can design it yourself.

5. Contrasting backgrounds.

Whatever subject you have and whatever setting you want to create, make sure that you observe contrast. If the subjects are wearing white, then do not use a white background. Observing contrast will let your subject pop from the background.

6. Experiment with backgrounds.

Well, there are a limitless number of backgrounds that you can use for your photo. Do not be afraid to experiment with it. When we say experiment, do not limit that with choosing the background but try various ways of taking the picture too because this could affect the look of the entire image.

With the various kinds of backgrounds that one could use, it would really be impossible not to come up with a dashing photograph. Do not be hesitant to try a variety of backgrounds. This will help you to pick the best shot and achieve an image that you can be proud of.

Tips in Taking Pictures with Backgrounds in Mind

The photograph isn’t just about the subject. So, when taking a photo, always think of the entire image. Some people find it hard to choose a background or would often fail because of the background. So, we have here some tips for you to ponder on while photographing.

Do away with clutter

1. Do away with clutter.

Before you click the shutter, try to survey the scene first. Are there some trashes around the area? Are there distracting elements in it? Take them away for no matter how small they are, they could ruin a good photo. These visual distractions will break your photo’s look.

2. Watch for lighting contrasts.

Photography and lighting always goes together. Make sure to get the right light for your background because an over lighted background will seemingly drown your image. Watch for shadows too especially if you are taking a portrait. A shadow could cover the face of your subject same as how a light that is too bright or too dark could do.

3. Avoid clashing colors.

We have mentioned that if your subject is wearing white, do not use a white background. You have to take note of colors too. The background should also compliment with the colors in your subject. Using the wrong colors could be distracting to the photo and might bring your subject out of focus.

Try different angles

4. Try different angles.

While experimenting with your backgrounds, you can also experiment with the angles. You can go above or below the subject. This can create a different appeal to the photo. Shooting the subjects above or below them would also allow you to take advantage of the lovely background. Just try whatever position you like when taking photos- climbing a tree or lying on the ground or anything would help you achieve the image you want.

5. Get near or go far.

You can try either of the both. Getting near the subject could give you a lesser view of the background while taking a picture farther could give you a better shot of the background. You can also use the zoom lens if you want to. Well, when all else fails, fill the frame with the subject.

There are really instances when the photographer is focused on the subject and would sometimes fail to look into the background. But this shouldn’t be the case. Remind yourself of the value of backgrounds. One way to do that is to be prepared. If you have a photo session outdoors, try to survey the area and spot various places that could be perfect as setting and background. When shooting in your studio, be ready with different fabrics and other backdrops that would fit the subject.

So, when photographing, always take a moment to check on the background. Some says that in order to get a better view of the image similar way on how it can be perceived by the camera is to look at it with one eye closed. Well, you can try doing this for it can help you spot highlights and shadows in the scene. Also, bear in mind that getting that right background could help you compose your photos well. Can you tell us what techniques you use in taking photos while considering the background? Or would you like to share to us your favorite image showing an effective use of backgrounds?

Kareen Liez

About the author: A Civil Engineer who has a construction business and a youth volunteer for a civic organization. She also contributes for a local newspaper due to her unwavering passion to write.