Photography Tip of the Day: Backgrounds

What’s wrong with this picture?

How on Earth did I not notice the horns???

I wish I could tell you I did this on purpose, just to be funny. But it would be a lie. This ridiculous juxtaposition of my baby’s head and the Texas Longhorn on my husband’s shirt is totally unintentional.

Usually, I pay attention to these things, but it can be easy to forget about checking the background when you’re focused on capturing the sweet expression on your subject’s face.

One of the most basic photography tips is to always be aware of your background. Obviously, this photo was never going to be a work of art–with or without the horns/antennae, but instead of having a photo of a sweet little moment, all I can pay attention to is the horns growing out of my precious baby’s head.

(It does make me laugh, though.)

One horn is no better than two…

So how do you avoid an undesirable background?

There are several ways. One way is to move the subject to a new position. An easier option is to simply move yourself to a new vantage point (see below).

But what if I didn’t notice it until I was editing the photos?

This is the situation I found myself in with these photos. Sometimes the problem is fixable, but it will take more time than the regular minimal editing.

Sometimes the easiest fix is to crop the photo. But in most of these images, that would have meant cropping out part of Tice’s head.

Another (more time-consuming) option is editing in Photoshop, which is what I ended up doing to the above photo to get the photo below.

I zoomed in and used the clone stamp tool to delete the horns. My Aggie family and friends are probably loving this…

Note: No Longhorns were harmed in the editing of this photo!

So, “What’s the big deal if you can fix it later?” you might ask.

For one thing, it’s not always fixable. Some photos are too hard to edit without it being obvious and looking weird. For another, it’s really time consuming compared to normal editing. One photo isn’t the end of the world, but if you’re doing work for clients, or even just friends and family, and you have a whole series that needs to be fixed, that can be overwhelming. And the more time you spend editing, the less time you have for shooting, spending time with family, blogging, etc…

Has this ever happened to you? What was in your background? How did you fix it?

Happy shooting!

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One Response to Photography Tip of the Day: Backgrounds

  1. Oh the two horns pic is too funny!! Good tips. Thanks for sharing.

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