How to find backgrounds that help your images look spectacular!
Do you want your background to be well-defined or possibly blurred?
This is an essential question mainly because the choice determines your entire approach to the portrait shoot.
Should you want the background to stay focus, then this suggests that the background is more or less in some way relevant to your subject. Take for instance, if you are making a portrait of a successful musician, then perhaps it would be nice to take a photograph in a location where they continually perform, along with the environment to clearly show the environment.
However, if your goal is simply to obtain a pretty portrait of any individual, then the background might not be so relevant, having said that it must be complementary. A nice example of this is taking a portrait of somebody on a shoreline, where the natural environment becomes a mainstay of the composition.
The simplest way to grab a portrait with the background in focus is by utilizing a wide-angle lens with a smallish aperture (f/8 is ideal for this). You should be careful not to get too close to the individual (avoiding distortion) in order to include lots of background.
If you want to take photographs with a completely blurred background, then the background itself isn’t extremely important. It will be out of focus, so no one should be able to describe whatever it is. The important thing is that you need to be able to position your model a ways from the background. Then all you have to use is to use a short telephoto lens with a wide aperture, and if the model is far enough from the background it will go out of focus.
This method is most effective with prime lenses because of their wider maximum apertures. But you can certainly still ensure it is do the job, even with an 18-55mm kit lens (which often have maximum aperture settings of f3.5 to /56). You’ll simply need to move the model farther away from the background, and get as close to her as possible (attempt taking a simple head and shoulders shot) to make it work.
Don’t forget there’s a middle ground between these two extremes. You may want to make the background somewhat out of focus, so it is still recognizable although not so sharp it competes with the model for attention.
Are you going to take your photos indoors or outside?
The answer to this query is important since it leads to the question of how you are going to light the photograph.
For instance, inside places can be great for shoots that take place in the winter time, or even at night, if you can’t rely on the weather to be good enough to take photos outdoors. You can utilize your home as a location, another idea would be to keep an eye out for interesting indoor locations in your local area that you may be able to use. Examples are cafes, bars and also hotels. As soon as you’ve found a photogenic location, it’s a quick matter of determining the right person to request authorization to use that location for a shoot.
As soon as you’ve found the location, you should decide how to light the portrait. You might be okay with natural light, particularly if there are actually huge windows or your digital camera works well at higher ISOs. You’ll possibly want an assistant with a reflector to assist.
If you decide to make use of flash to light your portrait, things may be a little more complex. You’ll need room for lighting stands, so you may have to run electrical power cords across the ground. If you intend to use flash, make sure you mention this when you ask authorization to use the location.
If you are gonna have your photos outside then the issue of lighting still applies. Do you intend to use natural light? Once again, an assistant with a reflector may be valuable. If you intend to use are shown to supplement or even overpower the sunlight, you then need to consider if you have sufficient space in your selected area to set them up? Are you going to need someone to help you? Thinking through the practicalities will help your shoot run smoothly.
Lastly, here are some of my favorite places for taking portraits. You will find these recommendations useful in your search fantastic backgrounds.
Beaches: I particularly like rocky beaches since rocks render terrific histories. The key to obtaining the best from a beach site is always to take the portraits close to the sunset and also use the beautiful quality of light during the golden hour.
Gardens as well as parks: Public gardens will be an excellent place to take portraits. These are normally quite beautiful and may contain a variety of plants as well as trees and shrubs which you can’t find somewhere else in your area.
City or urban areas: I love to wander around unique parts of the town I live in with my model looking for good backgrounds. It’s amazing how many situations a wall structure or doorway could make a simple yet effective background for a portrait.
Children’s playgrounds: Use a playground at a quiet time and your model can have lots of fun on the rides, adding a sense of movement and vitality to your portraits.
One more thing. Don't forget to have fun and enjoy yourself. When you are having fun the person in front of the lens will have fun too!
If you have questions feel free to message me at email@example.com
This is me! Brian Johnson
I own Missoula Photography School and Glaston Vallhall. I travel, teach and shoot professionally.