Always watch your backgrounds

You can never talk too much about how important backgrounds are to a photo. A good one can enhance a picture’s readability. A bad one can obscure your subject and distract from the image’s overall appeal.

Here are two examples of how a slight and simple change in the background can make a big difference.

The first photo is of KWIN DJ Amanda King speaking at the Junior Giants rally at the Stribley Park Community Center in Stockton. Some nice soft light poured in from some high but wide windows behind Kind at the north end of the gymnasium where the event was held. I shot her from the side so at least some of her was illuminated, but her face was mostly in shadow. In the background a support pillar created a shadow against the far wall. Whenever she stood between that shadow and the camera, the darkness of the shadow and the shadows on her face blended together, making it more difficult to distinguish between the two.

In the second photo, King had stepped back a few feet. The shadow on the wall was now out of the picture, and the background was of a light, nearly featureless wall, thrown out of focus due to the shallow depth of field that I was shooting at. Her face was still in shadow but her profile was easier to make out because of the cleaner background.

From backgrounds to lighting to exposure to composition and more, there is a lot to consider even before you press the shutter button. It’s easy in the heat of the moment to forget about one thing or another, but with practice and patience, one can put it all together for a good photo.

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