Photography tips – Look at the environment

When I first starting taking photographs my focus was solely on the subject.  Is he/she smiling and looking at the camera?  Good…great photograph!

Now, I see there is so much more in taking “great photographs” than just the subject. You need to look at their surroundings.

The surroundings can make or break a great photo.  Sometimes you can crop out unsightly surroundings, such as a car in the background…or a messy living room.  However, it helps if you can look at the environment first and decide the best angle to take the photograph to minimize post-process headaches.

I love taking photos next to windows, but they generally serve to give me great reminders to clean them.  Photographs including finger-printed windows are not so pretty!

The environment can also add to the capture.  If you have a building with strong lines and great architecture, then it begs to be used artistically.  Playground equipment is great for framing kids…so many circles and lines to work with.  You just need to watch to make sure they don’t overpower the subject.

Another thing to watch, specifically when you are taking photographs outdoors, is that there are no trees growing out of peoples heads or adding appendages.  Those dang trees try  to screw up photos all the time…it’s like someone giving you the rabbit ears behind your head. 🙂 

Here are a few photographs as examples:

Here I cropped to use the lines of the bridge to add perspective interest. 

Dusk at the lake

Here I think the environment added so much to this photo.  Without it there would just be a tiger.  In his environment it really adds so much beauty to the photograph.  No need to crop out the environment here to get a close up of the animal.


This is our backyard and when my hubby saw this picture he asked where I took it.  Just some nice framing of the vegetation and flowers makes it look like it could be in a different place.

Enchanted Garden 

 This photo shows some of what I am speaking to in regard to using playground equipment to frame your child.  Notice how she is nicely framed?

summer at the park 

Well, I hope this got you all thinking about the other elements around your subject when you point your lens and click the shutter.

3 Replies to “Photography tips – Look at the environment”

  1. great lesson today…I needed those reminders. We’re celebrating a local festival today, so we’ve already been out once and will go out again after nap time.


    Oh, yeah…AWESOME pictures!

  2. Thanks Natalie and glad it helped you out! I know I have had some great shots of the kids and then the background is so distracting that it just ruins them. This is something that is takes practice looking at more than just them, but well worth the time in the end.

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