It has always been my opinion that the simpler the background the better. Which, granted, is not always possible with outdoor sitting portraits.
Check out this image of a senior guy and his Chow Chow. This guy had the Urban Session. There ain’t a lot of grassy areas downtown for a guy to look natural sitting with his dog so we used this spot.
These shrubs are located at the edge of our back parking lot. It’s cropped the way it is because the sidewalk is direct to camera right/his left. I shot from a higher angle to cut out the parking ramp directly behind him and the surface lot to his immediate right/camera left. Eliminating those distractions are what made the image work.
This image is also from the Urban Session. There’s a park bench down along the river that backs up to these lilacs. (at least I think they’re lilacs). I never have a kid sit on the bench – any bench – as they normally would. Because that’s normal. He’s sitting on the backrest of the bench with his feet on the seat part. Doing so let me fill the background with the dark green leaves.
Or how about this one. Urban session again. Wide open aperture to blow the background out of focus. He’s also sitting on a park bench on the sidewalk in front of a downtown building. Instead of standing out in front of him and shooting into the building I lined up next to the building and composed the image down the length of the sidewalk.
This image was made by the pool in this guy’s backyard. He put on this yellow t-shirt and I knew I wanted to incorporate the cool blue turquoise pool water with the warm yellow shirt. Then it was just a matter of finding the right spot – with the best light – at the edge of the pool.
And now look at this image. Wow, there is a lot going on here isn’t there? Flowers, rocks, shrubs, water. So many things to distract your eye – the subject gets lost in the chaos.
But, there’s a reason for it. This kid, third of three seniors from the same family, wanted to be a landscape architect. He had designed and built this garden which was in their backyard. So while this wouldn’t be something I’d typically do, in this case, we did want to show all of these background elements.
So keep your eyes open and watch for simple backgrounds. Find a good spot with good light and get your subject posed. But then remember, you’re free to move all around your subject. Don’t limit yourself to the obvious.
And please always remember – if you have questions ask away. You’ve heard it before but I’ll say it again anyway – always fasten your seatbelt. Wait that’s not it. Umm, the only dumb question is the one you don’t ask, that’s it. Here’s my address, email me maybe.