Don't Let The Background Distract From Your Beautiful Photo

Photo and Words Courtesy of Scott Bourne - Platypod Pro
Edited by Eryka Bagwell

Ask most professional photographers what's important to photographic composition and they will mention having a clutter-free background.

Your images need to have a center of focus. It might be a portrait or a landscape image or a bird photo. Whatever it is, you want to draw the viewer's eye to the subject not the background. So here are a few tips for decluttering your background.

1. Get Close Part I

One of the simplest ways to improve your background is to eliminate most of it. The closer you are to your subject, the more of the subject we will see and the less of the background we will see.

2. Get Close Part II

As camera to subject distance DECREASES, depth-of-field also decreases. This means that if you are close to your subject, there is going to be shallower depth-of-field. Shallower depth-of-field means that the area in front of and behind your subject will appear out of focus. Out of focus backgrounds are often more pleasing to the eye.

3. Increase Subject To Background Distance

If you want the subject of your photos to pop; separate the subject from the background by increasing subject to background distance. The further from the background the better.

4. Use Telephoto Lenses

The longer your focal length, the more shallow your depth-of-field. If you use a 400mm lens, even at f/5.6-f/8, most of the background will disappear if there’s any distance at all between your subject and the background, or if you are relatively close to the subject or both.

5. Large Apertures

Use a large aperture (smaller number) to soften up your background and help highly your subject by drawing all attention to it rather than the background.


You can also do lots of cool tricks in post to soften or clean up your background and we didn’t mention any of those because frankly, our preference is to get it right in the camera.

It may take a little more work, but it's also a little more satisfying.

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