Subject against ground



There is a simple tip to remember when you are trying to make an impact – your subject must stand out against the background.  A messy background or lack of clarity between the background and the subject makes for a distracting image and reduces impact.  I was given this advice by my brother (who is an incredible street photographer) and it is the single most important piece of photographic advice I have ever received.

When taking the above photo there were a lot of decisions that needed to be taken.  The shot was not posed but taken on the hoof at a procession that was filled with movement with lots of photographers doing battle over the best shots.  It was a bit of a bunfight in photographic terms.  When I saw this man walking along blowing bubbles I instantly thought that the umbrella could be used to isolate him from the background and potentially make for a great image.  This is what the overall scene looked like:

As you can see the background was a mix of buildings and people and although it provides context it draws the eyes away from the main image.  The answer was simple – get in close and take the shot from below using the umbrella to bring the subject into prominence.


It had been raining and the ground was covered by a large puddle – there was only one option, kneel down in the dirty puddle and take the shot!  The second photo in this post was taken by a friend (who wants to remain anonymous) just as I was taking the photo above so captures the context of the shot perfectly.

If you look at the photographs taken by renowned photographers you will see the ‘subject against ground’ theme repeat itself over and over again.  One of the best examples of this is a well-known photograph by Marcin Ryczek which can be seen here

So there you have it – subject against ground.  Hope you find this helpful.

The first and third photographs above were taken with a Fujifilm X-T1 with 55-200mm zoom lens. Settings were 1/200 at f/4 and ISO640.


About photoponica

A documentary style photographer - started with film now shooting digital with the Fuji X system.
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One Response to Subject against ground

  1. Ellen Richards says:

    Just brilliant ! I’ve just taken a photo in the rooftop car park at J L’s. it’s a pair of shoes as you will see. I found the subject intriguing. What could I do to make it more interesting? Any ideas? Xxx

    Sent from my iPhone

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