We’re animal photographers, so most of the time we are out looking for ways to make great animal photographs. But that doesn’t mean we put on a different hat when photographing other subject matter. All the rules of good photography still apply, especially backgrounds, which ruin more photographs than any other factor except exposure.
Here’s a good example. Last weekend I shot these images at the January Jamboree at the garden club.
So what’s wrong with this picture? The children are adorable and everyone is smiling and looking at the camera. Excellent. Can’t find better subject matter than this cute family! But the light. It’s high noon and the shadows are awful. No remedy for the light, so what to do?
Whew. Much better. There’s a few things going on here that make this a darn good image. The background is fairly solid so it provides a nice backdrop. The spot has enough light (I used my on camera flash to add a bit of pop) without any pattern of light and dark. There is no direct sunlight illuminating this scene at all. Otherwise, I’d have to deal with sun and shade together which would create a patchwork look…great for making a quilt, but pure ruin of an otherwise good image. There are a lot of other examples of how to achieve good lighting in my book, but I think this should get you started in the right direction.
Ok, we get the concept. All I did was follow the rules. I needed to scout out a good background, place my subjects in that background, and go to work.
But wait. Here’s another thing. Look at how much better this image is than the one above it.
So what is different here? All the subjects are looking straight at the camera. What a difference that makes to the viewer!