It's Week #49: Behind the Subject

To be shot and submitted between Sunday, Nov 29 and Sunday, Dec 6 (noon, Eastern)

Photo by Gai Opresnik, Week 29: Street Photography (2015)

OK, so about this week’s challenge. One thing that I’ve noticed that really separates professional photographers from guys just getting started is focusing on the entire scene. The subject is just a piece of the whole picture. Think about your background when you shoot. Is it distracting? Can it be more symmetrical? Should I shoot wide to make the subject appear in a big space? Should I zoom in and not leave any background in at all?

Take a look at Jaime’s great photo above, would this image have been as strong if there were people in the background? He chose to place his subject in front of an off-white wall, with just enough pattern to make it an interesting part of the image as well. Take a look at Gai’s photo just above. The background could have been an image all on its own. This makes the photo all the more powerful, by combining both elements into a visual story.

Jaime Chamorro – Week 41 – Inspired by a Famous Photographer (2015)

You can bring attention to what’s behind your subject in a number of ways: You can place your subject in front of a solid background. You can blur out the background by using a wide aperture. You can look for complementary colors with your subject and background. And more advanced, is to have the background “interact” with your subject. More on that below.

Tips and Tuts for this week:

  • Check out Street Photography photos. I think this is a great source of inspiration, as good street photographers will many times incorporate the subject with their surroundings.
  • Think about your story. How do you want the viewer to view the subject? Incorporate the background to support that story. Check out this interesting tutorial on how to create emotion in your photographs.
  • Go for colors. If you are having difficulty with the above, go for color! Find a wall near you that’s painted a certain color, and place your subject in front. A great resource to see some of these interactions is from our Complementary Colors album!

Looking for more inspiration? Follow the links from the photos in the email to see the whole albums.

And, of course, The Googles.

Extra Credit: Background Interaction

For some extra credit joojoo, have the background specifically interact with your subject. Again, this jives remarkably well with street photography (though it doesn’t have to be). Catch people walking past signs, or create a relationship with an advert. Findparallels, or just make interesting imagery. Shoutout to Felix Lupa, who does it remarkably well.

Have fun with it and of course, check out the Googles for some inspiration.

Remember, it is not necessary to work in this Extra Credit piece. It’s extra credit!

Have a challenge idea for 2016?