Find simple backgrounds

This tip from Toronto’s fabulous PodCamp which was held at Ryerson University last week is all about backgrounds.

Messy or busy backgrounds can be fixed simply by shooting closer which was the last tip I posted.

In the photo below taken at the Toronto Zombie Walk there are 5,000 other zombies in the background but through tight cropping and vignetting (darkening the edges of the image forcing the viewer’s eye to the brighter subjects in the centre) we only see these two frightening participants.Peter West Photo-1-222-XL

Think about moving the camera to hide stuff that distract from your main subject. Shooting from a higher angle than your subject is a quick way of getting rid of the normal background clutter.

In the photo below shot during a modelling session, this lovely model was placed in front of a black background to highlight her blond hair and pale skin tones. Of course a studio light was used to illuminate her but you could use a cheap LED movie light that’s powered by batteries and super portable.PW Photo-20

If you’re doing outdoor environmental portraits, which are easy to do using any camera including a smartphone, consider picking brick walls for your background. Often the alleyways between buildings can provide really nice indirect light that is warmed by the colour of the bricks. This warming light also falls on the subject’s face.

Avoid using a flash and let the natural light take over and you’ll be amazed at how professional these portraits will appear.

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