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Problem picture #12

What's wrong with this picture?


Have you taken a picture like this recently?
Have you taken a picture like this recently?

This is obviously meant to be a portrait - a picture that captures a person's likeness. Yet, it doesn't do that very well. This photograph illustrates a number of problems that are common to many photographers who attempt to photograph an individual, but end up with little more than a snapshot.

What's wrong with this picture?
(1) There is too much in the way of background. The photographer was too far away from the subject, forgetting the cardinal rule of composition - to fill the frame. Anything that doesn't contribute to the photograph should be excluded. Besides, the subject's face is too far away to make out its details.
(2) The background itself is dull and lends nothing to the image. There are too many unneeded elements, like the door frame, and the down-pipe from the roof gutter, which is bright white and distracting. The viewer wonders whether he or she is looking at an individual's portrait or a picture of part of a building with someone in the way.
(3) The foreground is not only plain, it's unattractive.
(4) There is no creativity in the subject's pose. He is just standing there, as if he'd walked out the door and been asked to stop to have his picture taken.

The photograph below, taken moments after the one above, shows how easy it can be to improve your people pictures. The photographer took the time to select a pleasing setting, one in which the subject could be comfortably seated, then moved in close to fill the frame. The background is relatively neutral and doesn't distract the viewer's eye, yet it contrasts sufficiently with the subject to achieve a clear separation. An attractive floral foreground was thrown slightly out of focus (by using shallow depth of field) so the viewer's attention goes straight to the subject.

Quite a difference. And one you can achieve with just a little thought in planning your picture-taking.

Wouldn't you rather take people pictures that look like this? You can, with a little thought and a bit of effort.
Wouldn't you rather take people pictures that look like this? You can, with a little thought and a bit of effort.


 
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