Backgrounds Matter Dammit

One of the things that sep­a­rates new­bie pho­tog­ra­phers from expe­ri­enced pho­tog­ra­phers is the abil­ity to see beyond the fore­ground or main sub­ject. Most pho­tog­ra­phers that are start­ing out for­get that 2 dimen­sional pho­tos had mul­ti­ple planes (fore­ground, midground and back­ground) before the shut­ter release but­ton was clicked. This is espe­cially true of street photography.

Image by thoughton

Thoughton, a mem­ber of our fine art pho­tog­ra­phy forum recently uploaded a gor­geous set of travel pho­tos where the back­grounds share equal or greater impor­tance to the fore­ground or the main focal point. In some of the images the back­ground IS the focal point.

Part of the skill here is of course antic­i­pa­tion, desire and patience. Some­times we can spot a great street back­ground but we need to hunt down (sounds bet­ter and less bor­ing than ‘wait for’) a fore­ground sub­ject to com­plete the scene.

Image by thoughton

Click to see the photo thread that con­tains thoughton’s whole set in a larger size.

Happy hunt­ing :)


  1. So i guess this makes me an ama­teur :)

    • admin says:

      We were all ama­teurs once ;)
      These tips are meant to help peo­ple to learn to see all parts of the scene.
      Espe­cially when it comes to pho­tog­ra­phy for plea­sure, the scene is your can­vas and just like a painter, active choices help deter­mine the final outcome.

      Being aware of mul­ti­ple planes in a scene is hugely impor­tant. (As is angle selec­tion, DOF, com­po­si­tion etc.) NOT think­ing about these things means you are shoot­ing more snap­shots that ‘art’ imho.

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