Ideal Placement of Background Objects In Your Digital Photography

Last week I spoke about positive and negative spaces in digital photography. To compliment that article I am going to go further into subject placement in your photos to get the ideal composition.

To start with, one of the things that detract from a beautiful digital picture is distraction. I see it all the time. A vase on the table in the background that had nothing to do with the message the photographer is conveying. Or perhaps something sticking out the top of something that ends up being irrelevant and a visual nuisance.

To avoid this I would like to draw to your attention the importance of story telling in photography. In each individual photo you take, when you are capturing a situation, what you are really doing in photography is telling a story. A big, majestic landscape is the photographers way of saying “see how this scene creates feeling of tranquility and calm”. Another picture might show you the adrenalin of a race and another might show you the depth of emotion at a birthday party.

Now what makes these pictures work so well is that every single thing, or object, in the photo has ideal and relevant placement in relation to the story you are telling in the photo. A relevantly placed object can completely increase the nature and feeling of the story. Just as equally powerful, an irrelevant object can ruin or downplay the intensity of emotion in your images and they won’t be as powerful. And don’t be fooled by thinking the space around the subject doesn’t matter just because its space and not an object.

Take this next example:

842816_birds_lovemaking_upon_the_moon.jpg

Copyright by Petr Kovar

I understand what the photographer is trying to do but the Moon is distracting. Where does the photographer want us to look? Is it a shot of the moon with birds? Or is it a shot of birds with the moon? I’m not sure. You see how one simple additional subject can detract from the essence of the photograph? As a consequence it looses a lot.

Since we are using birds, an example of an additional subject that enhances the feeling and story of a photograph is this next one.

837553_pigeons_on_the_roof.jpg

This photo works okay because the chimney and the white bird to the left make sense for each other to be there in the same photo. They are linked and we understand that. We can understand that perhaps the chimney is the birds dwelling place and has relevancy in the bird’s life. It makes sense.

Always remember that no matter how big or how small, other objects will really make or break your photo. And the size doesn’t matter, as you have seen in these two examples. Its not about the size of something in the picture, it’s about relevance.

Happy shooting,


Amy Renfrey



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6 comments on “Ideal Placement of Background Objects In Your Digital Photography

  1. Pingback: aurino.com » Ideal Placement of Background Objects In Your Digital Photography

  2. The blog is interesting indeed (: I have came across this problem with the “Ideal Placement of Background objects”,and after shooting some “poor” pictures,i just give up.Now i feel much more self confident and I am going to try again till i get the perfect result.
    p/s – The other articles also helped me a lot in many different situations.A really close friend of mine invited me to his wedding party,and I tried to use the techniques which Amy Renfrey has explained in this blog.When he saw the pictures i took with my digital camera,he really liked them,and even put some in frames.It is really good to have such a nice blogs where people are trying to help you cope with problems like “taking photos”
    Keep it going 🙂

  3. Try the same photo after deleting the right hand bird and removing some of the un-necessary space at the base and see if this does not improve the balance of the photo. As presented, I feel that the right hand bird makes the pic too uninteresting and the central position of all birds and wires creates a “ho-hum” photo.
    These changes to me make a much better composition and makes good use of the moon.

    Keith Liddell

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