Of course there are more than five ways to make a photo look terrible, but let’s focus on surroundings today. Choosing poorly when it comes to location is a sure way to ruin a good photo!
Here are my top five worst nightmares when it comes to background in photos:
1. Do not think of the surroundings at all. There is a fence, a building, and a dog, but all you look at is your model-dog. Because he’s cute anyway, right? Of course he is. But to someone that isn’t as in love with your dog as you are it’s simply a bad photo.
2. Choose a messy background. Not necessarily unclean, but with a lot of stuff going on. Shapes, colours, chaos. Your dog gets lost in the surroundings and the viewer gets confused. But maybe that’s what you want? I sure don’t.
3. Think that a large aperture will make it blurry enough to save any photo. Sorry, that’s just lazy AND wrong. The background you choose should have a purpose, and bring something to the photo. A large aperture can make stunning soft dreamy photos, but you still need a nice background to begin with.
4. When you do find a nice place, stay in one angle and take one photo. I mean, why experiment? I am sure that you – unlike me – always get it perfect in the first shot. God forbid that you try to think differently and get another result than the obvious!
5. Believe in the power of photoshop. You can edit anything, right? No need to move on meter to the left and avoid a house, that’s what the clone-tool us for!
I actually think a lot about choosing the right environment for (almost) every photo. What do I want it to “feel” like? Urban, natural, freedom, cozy? What colour should it be? I often want it to complement the colour of my dog. Normally all dogs look good with green grass and blue skies, but you can do so much more!
Maybe I want the background to help the viewer “get the story”? Sheepdog with sheep, agiliydog on the agilitycourse, huntingdog in the forest, and so on. That also helps my decision of aperture-setting, do I want the background sharp or blurry? It all depends on what I want to portrait.
And I’m lazy. I don’t want to have to spend a lot of time fixing stuff with my computer, I prefer to get it right from the start. It’s easier that way.
So…back to your easterphoto-challenge. What background do YOU want in YOUR photo? What story do you want to tell?