Eye Contact; Sure, I Take Travel Photographs, But What I Really Like To Do Is Direct
All Photos © 2004, Jack Hollingsworth, All Rights Reserved
I was talking with an editor friend of mine recently. He sees a lot of photographs--most of them taken by professionals, but some by amateurs. Every once in a while he's involved in judging amateurs' photos for online photo contests. He was telling me that many of the contest pictures he sees are ruined by distracting backgrounds. He said, "Don't people know how to compose?"
Most of the time I don't think it's a question of deliberate compositional
choices. I think that people who take pictures with distracting backgrounds
in them just don't notice what's going on behind their subject.
One sure way of eliminating the problem is to think about where you want your viewer's eye to go. Directing the viewer's eye forces you to be aware of your subject's location and what's going on in the background. Successful photographers know how to create compositions that lead the viewer's eye exactly where they want it to go. They compose to draw attention to the subject, and they use backgrounds to enhance the picture to be neutral.