When shooting portraits, the background is one of the things you need to be mindful about. And if you shoot outdoors, you don’t have so much control over it as you do in the studio. In this video, photographer David Bergman will give you a few quick tips for choosing the perfect background and improve your outdoor portraits in an instant.
A good background mustn’t be distracting and it should help lead the viewer’s eye straight to the subject. These are David’s tips for choosing the ideal background and raise your outdoor portraits to a higher level.
1. Look for a dark background
Our eyes tend to go to the brightest part of the image. So, if your background is brighter than the subject’s face, the viewer will get focused on it first. This is why you should look for dark backgrounds and those that are in the shade. This way, the bright subject will stand out on the dark background and your viewer’s eye will be drawn to the model’s face first.
2. Look for a solid background
A surface with a lot of detail can be interesting and it works well in some photos. But if you photograph a person in front of, say, a wall full of graffiti – it may not work well. The details on the background will draw the attention away from the subject. To avoid this, go for solid-colored backgrounds. What I’d like to add is that you can also blur out the colorful background, which leads us to the next point.
3. Put your subject further away from the background
Finally, you can make the subject pop by placing them further away from the background. Combine this with a long lens and a wide aperture – and you’ll get a blurry, creamy background that won’t steal the attention from your subject.
To recap: look for dark, solid-colored backgrounds. And if you want to shoot in front of a colorful background, blur it out by placing the subject further away from it, using a telephoto lens and/or using a wide aperture. These tricks will help you take much better outdoor portraits – even in challenging locations and ugly neighborhoods.