How to control Backgrounds in portraits photography

  • A key element in shooting a portrait is the care given to the background. Yet so often it is given very little thought and the finished photograph is spoilt by unwanted distractions. In some situations, such as in a studio, the background can be altered at will and could range from a simple plain white or black backdrop to a more elaborate purpose built set, or even a back screen projection.

  • When photographing people in their homes, at the workplace or outdoors, it is important to use the existing environment to the best advantage. This may means including the work the person does or even a relevant hobby or collection without letting the subject become secondary element within the picture. Positioning plays a key role in creating a background: thought should be given to where the subject of the portrait is to sit or stand, as well as the distance and angle of the camera in relation to both the person and the background. Choice of aperture is another consideration to be taken into account; a small aperture will produce a greater depth of filed than a large one, and so more of the background will be in focus which may well prove distracting.

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