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Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Understanding the Basic Elements in a Photographic Background for a Perfect Photo Shoot

by Michael Abela

You had everything planned. The model is putting on her last accessories and her makeup looks great. Reflectors are properly set and your photographic gear is in optimal working condition. All is set and ready, still something is not right.

Did you ever find yourself in such situation? I bet you did. It is quite amazing how many photographers tend to give little importance to the background available at hand. I am referring in particular to outdoor scenic backgrounds. But, what are those elements that play an important part in a perfect background?
Colour Harmony and Contrasts
Recently, I was going through a number of photos from a photo shoot done during summer time. I could not stop noticing the impact that particular backgrounds had when matched with specific clothing items.
By this I am not referring to colours harmonizing together or contrasting with each other, but rather the vibe, energy and character portrait.
It is important that when picking clothing attires and backgrounds we see beyond the obvious visual impact. Think about the mood and feeling that you want to transmit to your viewers.
Fluid versus Constant Backgrounds
Shooting outdoor is quite challenging in itself. Shooting outdoor with a flowing background is a quest.
I remember during my early days doing a shoot on this particular beach. The background was simple, open crystal clear blue waters matched with a cloudless sky. I could not ask for more. But what was meant to be a straight forward shoot, turned out to be a rather challenging one.
Half way through our photo shoot a numerous amount of sailing boats glided over the water materialized out of nowhere. The composition of the whole set up was changing constantly. The backdrop was too crowded with elements. To make things worse, the background light was adjusting according to the height and width of those brilliant white sails. At that point we decided to have a break and watch the sailing boats pass by.
Later on I learned that the local sailing club was celebrating its 50th anniversary. As a side note, always know about local activities taking place on the day.
Protecting Your Gear
Though this might be obvious for many, for some of you is not. Working in different outdoor environments, particularly locations with harsh environmental conditions can be stressful to your photographic gear.
It is imperative that you take the necessary precautions in order to maintain you gear in good condition. You might need a specific gear for unique photo shoots. If you are not sure on how to handle these challenging environments I suggest you leave these types of background settings out of your repertory. No matter how badly you yearn for such set ups, I suggest you avoid them at this stage. Such challenging places can be windy coastal areas, excessive desert heat or thick foggy mornings.
The importance of being in control of your background, whenever possible, is extremely vital. In taking all these aspects into account, you are paving your way in the right direction to produce outstanding work. Harmonizing your model with your natural, wisely selected background is a winning ticket for fantastic results.
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