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Remove Clutter from Your Photography


In my last post on Using Focal Points in Photography I wrote the lines

“Don’t confuse the viewer with too many competing focal points which might overwhelm the main focal point. Secondary points of interest can be helpful to lead the eye but too many strong ones will just clutter and confuse.”

I thought it was worth reiterating in a post of it’s own.

Sometimes what makes a great image stand out is not just what you include in your framing of the image but what you DON’T include.

Each element of an image should add something to to the overall photograph. If it doesn’t you should attempt to leave it out by either using one of the techniques below:

  • Always check the foreground and background of your shots for distracting features. One such common mistakes is the sight of trees or poles coming out the head of people.
  • While looking into your viewfinder move your camera across a scene to see if an alternative framing might produce a stronger result
  • Be particularly aware of bright or contrasting colors or highlights which can draw the eye away from your focal point.
  • Try different focal lengths (by zooming or changing lesnes) to cut out unwanted features
  • If zooming doesn’t work use your feet to change the angle you shoot from.
  • Move your subject. This is often possible when you’re shooting people (ie move them to a new background).
  • Move the distracting Object. If you are shooting macro shots it’s often possible to manipulate the background to be less distracting.
  • Use Depth of Field blur to lessen the impact of other objects that might clutter the image.
  • Using Silhouettes is another technique that can add a simplicity to an image by taking out much of the detail of your subjects
  • Converting an image to black and while or sepia similarly can have a de-cluttering effect if the mix of colors in your shot are the distracting feature.

Of course sometimes you can break this rule completely and fill your fame with so many focal points that the clutter itself becomes the point of interest in the shot. Be careful with this because getting it wrong could can really hurt a shot.

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Darren Rowse
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+.

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