We’ve all done it (at least I hope we have and it’s not just me!). We’ve been out taking photographs and seen something that would make a great subject so we raise our camera to the eye, focus and fire the shutter. Then we take a look at it later maybe on a larger computer screen and we discover something we missed at the time. That empty landscape? There’s someone having a picnic over there! That “decisive moment”? There’s something in the way at the wrong moment!

Everything the photographer sees through the viewfinder becomes a part of the photograph. There will be something that caught your eye – that is your subject and where you want your viewers to look first. Then there is everything else. This should in some way contribute to the photograph by placing the subject in context to help tell your story or it should not distract from the subject.

In another post I will take a look at what you leave in the photograph but this time I want to discuss what you should leave out and a few ways of decluttering your images.

So, you’ve seen something you want to photograph, and you raise your camera to your eye to take it. But wait…

Whenever you raise your camera to the eye get into the habit of doing a few things to check for and remove unwanted objects.

Check the edges.

If you are like me you can be so distracted by your subject that you miss something at the edge of your photograph that could prove distracting. If you do see something like that there are a few things you can do:

  • Wait. If you wait, could the distraction move out of the way if it is a person passing by, for example?
  • Move. Can you change your viewpoint to eliminate or minimise the distraction?
  • Change focus or exposure. If you cannot remove the distracting elements can there be thrown out of a focus or into shadow, so they are less obvious?

As you take more and more photographs all of these things should become instinctive, and the time taken to carry out a few seconds.

There is one other thing you can do, of course. Fix it afterwards. If you can’t get rid of it all can you remove them in post-production?

Once you have removed or minimised the distracting objects everything else left should have a part to play in your photograph and we will take a look at their role later.

Published by Stephen Taylor

Freelance e-learning developer and instructional designer, photographer and cyclist

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