Check the Background of Your Shots Before Shooting - Digital Photography School

Check the Background of Your Shots Before Shooting

Those who follow me on Instagram (follow me at darrenrowse) will have seen this one already but I thought it’d be a fun one to share again – to make a point.

check-the-background-of-your-shots.jpeg

Check the backgrounds of your shots before shooting!

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • http://jasoncollinphotography.com Jason St. Petersburg Photographer

    I am definitely a stickler for poles coming out of people’s heads in shots, and also for not having the horizon bisect a person’s head. Background along with lighting make or break any shot, assuming the subject is good.

    If you do get some intruder in the background of a shot you otherwise really like, I put up a brief tutorial and example of how using the Clone Stamp tool can clean up that background:

    http://jasoncollinphotography.com/blog/2011/3/24/photography-tip-use-photoshop-clone-stamp-tool-to-clean-back.html

  • http://inafield.com Joel

    Really great point — all of a sudden phantom hands show up — where did that come from??? Oh wait, that’s the ring bearer, and he’s doing what??? Why is grandma’s foot sticking out like that? Why is this uncle or that aunt always sneaking into every shot?

    However, some great outtakes can be found too, like when the bridal party is goofing off around the corner and they don’t notice you are taking pictures of the bride and groom… or the dad photographing you photographing his daughter.

  • http://www.livingdisney.com Elizabeth
  • afoord82

    I get the point, but I actually like this photo! It was obviously intentionally shot this way for this section, but its very interesting

  • http://www.se7en.org.za se7en

    Have to give a small smile, my mil remarried recently and she has a the security spikes along her garden wall coming out of each ear in almost every garden photograph!!! The question is… how on earth did the photographer achieve that, if he wasn’t doing it on purpose surely he would have missed “the special effect” more often. Great tip… incredible error!!!

  • http://www.zibri.org Zibri
  • Scottc

    Hello!

    This one was loaded with “power lines”. I had no idea how bad until I looked at it at home, cloned most of them out. I don’t keep the really bad backgrounds….

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/6888775241/

  • raghavendra

    This is a good thought,
    even the best pictures without the proper background makes it awkward.

    http://raghavendra-mobilephotography.blogspot.com/2012/04/beautiful-lily-flower-in-pond.html

  • http://www.wildlifeencounters.eu steve slater

    I was trying to get a shot of the zulu lady with a bowl on her head. When I got home I saw the guy behind the car with such a mischievious look on his face it gives the shot an extra story so I left him in:

    http://wildlifeencounters.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Zulus-and-Zulu-village-scenes/G0000CUFsk4Bu0UU/I0000uaN1alsiEYg

  • http://digitalslrreviwer.com Michael

    Very funny picture. It could may be do with a plane or UFO flying over as well to complete the picture. But a good reminder to not just focus solely on the subject.

  • http://www.kerstenbeck.com Erik Kerstenbeck

    Hi

    Aside from the obvious of not having weird things coming out of peoples heads and the like, I always look at the background to see how it can compliment the picture and try my best to frame it by moving around, changing levels etc. In this shot of San Diego at night, I wanted the masts of the sail boats to from the city.

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/the-motion-of-the-ocean/

  • http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/ Mridula

    But sometimes you are shooting so fast that there is no time and I would still like a picture!

    http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/2012/05/a-peek-into-the-malaysian-culture-and-social-media.html

  • http://journal.nearbennett.com Rick

    Completely independently (I SWEAR!!:!!), just yesterday, I posted something similar to my blog:

    http://journal.nearbennett.com/2012/05/07/pro-tip-17-pay-attention-to-your-background/

  • Mei Teng

    I like this image. Except for the “headpiece”.

  • http://journal.nearbennett.com Rick

    I was inspired. Here’s my “I wanna be like Darren on Instagram” pic.
    http://instagr.am/p/KYoMQzmvnS/

  • http://www.tozlusayfa.net Asli gungor

    I get the point, but I actually like this photo! It was obviously intentionally shot this way for this section, but its very interesting

  • http://www.tozlusayfa.net Asli gungor

    I like this image

  • eosDave

    Is that grass at the foot of the light pole or is it stubble on your dome?
    It is tough to remember to look past the subject and scan the background for distractions. I have to force myself to remember to look. Slight angle adjustments often do the trick. Making the subject move is often more awkward and usually ruins the spontaneity of the shot.

  • http://paulhippaufphotography.com Paul Hippauf

    This can be used creatively, too. It helps to make it obvious, so it doesn’t look like an accident, and you don’t look like a schmoe.

  • Dian Verrell

    I shot a wedding group photo by a port a potty, next to a beautiful ’40’s home (backyard reception, lots of people, hence the “john”). I didnt see it until it was too late. I did my best to make it inconspicuous, in photoshop.

  • bob frederick

    its always challenging to capture critters freestanding in space without a decent background but if you move your position a bit & use a lens aperture that blurs the available backdrop you can get the object to stand out[eimg url=’http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6239/6212565864_2d6b783bfd_z.jpg’ title=’6212565864_2d6b783bfd_z.jpg’]

  • Philip L Jackson

    Do not forget to check the foreground as well (look for the pink)

    [eimg url=’http://www.yorkshireairnews.co.uk/images/other/img_5058_mod_2.jpg’ title=’img_5058_mod_2.jpg’]

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/btwienclicks Ewien van Bergeijk – Kwant

    Love this one, good point :]

  • http://www.weddingphotographerindevon.co.uk/ Paul

    Seem similar posts before, but always good to remind us about the basics. Thanks, the examples were amusing :)

  • http://so-very.me Jenny

    hahaha that’s funny. yea i’m always checking background. i’m anal that way.

  • chimdara

    great article,, simple and clear

Some older comments

  • Jenny

    August 26, 2012 07:53 am

    hahaha that's funny. yea i'm always checking background. i'm anal that way.

  • Paul

    May 14, 2012 07:19 am

    Seem similar posts before, but always good to remind us about the basics. Thanks, the examples were amusing :)

  • Ewien van Bergeijk - Kwant

    May 14, 2012 12:18 am

    Love this one, good point :]

  • Philip L Jackson

    May 12, 2012 08:16 am

    Do not forget to check the foreground as well (look for the pink)

    [eimg url='http://www.yorkshireairnews.co.uk/images/other/img_5058_mod_2.jpg' title='img_5058_mod_2.jpg']

  • bob frederick

    May 11, 2012 08:14 am

    its always challenging to capture critters freestanding in space without a decent background but if you move your position a bit & use a lens aperture that blurs the available backdrop you can get the object to stand out[eimg url='http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6239/6212565864_2d6b783bfd_z.jpg' title='6212565864_2d6b783bfd_z.jpg']

  • Dian Verrell

    May 11, 2012 04:08 am

    I shot a wedding group photo by a port a potty, next to a beautiful '40's home (backyard reception, lots of people, hence the "john"). I didnt see it until it was too late. I did my best to make it inconspicuous, in photoshop.

  • Paul Hippauf

    May 11, 2012 02:55 am

    This can be used creatively, too. It helps to make it obvious, so it doesn't look like an accident, and you don't look like a schmoe.

  • eosDave

    May 11, 2012 01:24 am

    Is that grass at the foot of the light pole or is it stubble on your dome?
    It is tough to remember to look past the subject and scan the background for distractions. I have to force myself to remember to look. Slight angle adjustments often do the trick. Making the subject move is often more awkward and usually ruins the spontaneity of the shot.

  • Asli gungor

    May 9, 2012 05:44 pm

    I like this image

  • Asli gungor

    May 9, 2012 05:43 pm

    I get the point, but I actually like this photo! It was obviously intentionally shot this way for this section, but its very interesting

  • Rick

    May 9, 2012 12:33 pm

    I was inspired. Here's my "I wanna be like Darren on Instagram" pic.
    http://instagr.am/p/KYoMQzmvnS/

  • Mei Teng

    May 9, 2012 10:34 am

    I like this image. Except for the "headpiece".

  • Rick

    May 9, 2012 06:42 am

    Completely independently (I SWEAR!!:!!), just yesterday, I posted something similar to my blog:

    http://journal.nearbennett.com/2012/05/07/pro-tip-17-pay-attention-to-your-background/

  • Mridula

    May 9, 2012 02:36 am

    But sometimes you are shooting so fast that there is no time and I would still like a picture!

    http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/2012/05/a-peek-into-the-malaysian-culture-and-social-media.html

  • Erik Kerstenbeck

    May 8, 2012 11:55 pm

    Hi

    Aside from the obvious of not having weird things coming out of peoples heads and the like, I always look at the background to see how it can compliment the picture and try my best to frame it by moving around, changing levels etc. In this shot of San Diego at night, I wanted the masts of the sail boats to from the city.

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/the-motion-of-the-ocean/

  • Michael

    May 8, 2012 10:19 pm

    Very funny picture. It could may be do with a plane or UFO flying over as well to complete the picture. But a good reminder to not just focus solely on the subject.

  • steve slater

    May 8, 2012 05:53 pm

    I was trying to get a shot of the zulu lady with a bowl on her head. When I got home I saw the guy behind the car with such a mischievious look on his face it gives the shot an extra story so I left him in:

    http://wildlifeencounters.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Zulus-and-Zulu-village-scenes/G0000CUFsk4Bu0UU/I0000uaN1alsiEYg

  • raghavendra

    May 8, 2012 12:26 pm

    This is a good thought,
    even the best pictures without the proper background makes it awkward.

    http://raghavendra-mobilephotography.blogspot.com/2012/04/beautiful-lily-flower-in-pond.html

  • Scottc

    May 8, 2012 10:52 am

    Hello!

    This one was loaded with "power lines". I had no idea how bad until I looked at it at home, cloned most of them out. I don't keep the really bad backgrounds....

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/6888775241/

  • Zibri

    May 8, 2012 08:36 am

    This is even better:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/zibri/336335200/

    :D

  • se7en

    May 8, 2012 07:22 am

    Have to give a small smile, my mil remarried recently and she has a the security spikes along her garden wall coming out of each ear in almost every garden photograph!!! The question is... how on earth did the photographer achieve that, if he wasn't doing it on purpose surely he would have missed "the special effect" more often. Great tip... incredible error!!!

  • afoord82

    May 8, 2012 07:09 am

    I get the point, but I actually like this photo! It was obviously intentionally shot this way for this section, but its very interesting

  • Elizabeth

    May 8, 2012 06:50 am

    Hi, Thanks for the reminder. So much to learn, it is so fun experimenting though!

    http://www.livingdisney.com/
    http://www.explore-disney-resorts.com/downtown-disney-orlando.html
    http://lpsfunblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/savannah-and-alex-go-on-date.html

  • Joel

    May 8, 2012 06:44 am

    Really great point -- all of a sudden phantom hands show up -- where did that come from??? Oh wait, that's the ring bearer, and he's doing what??? Why is grandma's foot sticking out like that? Why is this uncle or that aunt always sneaking into every shot?

    However, some great outtakes can be found too, like when the bridal party is goofing off around the corner and they don't notice you are taking pictures of the bride and groom... or the dad photographing you photographing his daughter.

  • Jason St. Petersburg Photographer

    May 8, 2012 06:17 am

    I am definitely a stickler for poles coming out of people's heads in shots, and also for not having the horizon bisect a person's head. Background along with lighting make or break any shot, assuming the subject is good.

    If you do get some intruder in the background of a shot you otherwise really like, I put up a brief tutorial and example of how using the Clone Stamp tool can clean up that background:

    http://jasoncollinphotography.com/blog/2011/3/24/photography-tip-use-photoshop-clone-stamp-tool-to-clean-back.html

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