Monday, February 2, 2009

February Monthly Special: Background

"We see your bum!"

What role does the background play in creating a good or bad photo? In my photo of children pointing at the graffiti on the backside of a statue (It reads: "On voit ton cul," which I have translated into the slightly less vulgar "We see your bum!"), the statue in the background actually becomes the central focus. Technically, I suppose it would be "middleground," or even ...Hmm. Not the best way to exemplify the theme. But technicalities aside, I wanted to look at the relation between the subject and the background. Here, we can see it quite, well, explicitly.

How much thought goes into the background in your photos? When I take group photos, most families have a strong sense of their ideal background. Trees. Mountains. Flowers. Almost always a scene of pastoral tranquility. Rare is the family that wants a portrait at a construction site. Look at a few of the photos around your home. What kinds of backgrounds do you see. Does the background add to or distract from the central focus of the image? Do you prefer a blurred background (a shallow depth of field) or a deep focus? How does color function in your backgrounds? What about texture? When we take snapshots, we don't always have time to think about background. But this month, I am challenging you to experiment with background. Scout out locations around your city. Pay attention to color and texture. Think about the meaning that a background adds.

Throughout the month, I will post some of my own experiments, hopefully an interview, and even a tutorial or two. If you're not a Photoshop user, this is a good month to participate in the Monthly Special. Have fun with it. And when you're done, post your results and link back here.