Thinking in 3D – Background

If you’ve signed up for our free model photography mini-course, then you know that one of the 10 Common Mistakes of New Model Photographers is not watching your backgrounds. They having stuff coming out of their model’s head, like telephone poles or trees. Too often we don’t pay attention to what is behind our model and mess up a great image.

For me the biggest use of the background is to add information or feeling to the image. (How to Create Feel In Photographs is lesson #13 & #14 of the mini-course). This is why I’m not a big fan of plain white backgrounds. A plain background is great at removing distraction and focusing the viewer on the subject, which is a good thing when you are creating a catalog or fashion image because it is all about the clothes. When you are creating more artistic images, you need to use everything you can to add meaning and emotion.

Aerial Dance on Black
Aerial Dance on Black
Even when I’m using a plain background – black more often than white – I like to put some color in it. Like this image of an aerial dancer. The fact is a person floating in mid air like an angel is pretty good all by itself. The white she’s wearing separates her from the background well. But the splash of color takes it to a different level. And it has become part of my style.

Another way to use the background is to put something in it that gives it context. Maybe that is a city skyline to a swimsuit image, which says where they are and ads an cosmopolitan feel. Or a wooden wall, that gives a grunge or dirty feel to it. Or even a group of zombies to tell you why the model is carrying a shot gun. (See these images and post your backgrounds in the forum).

Think about your background. Use it to turn your images from good to great.

How have you used your background to change the meaning or fell of your images? Show us in the forums.