By Jim Zuckerman
In the courses I teach at Betterphoto, I often comment on highlights in the background that divert our attention from the subject. Our eyes are drawn to the lightest part of picture, no matter where in the frame the light area happens to be, and our attention returns to that light area again and again. Instead of focusing on the subject, we are diverted to other parts of the image too often, and that’s not the way a successful image is supposed to work.
Compare the two images below. This is a woman I photographed in a tribal region of India. I was shooting fast and didn’t notice the out of focus light area behind my subject until I took a couple of frames. To correct the problem, I moved a few inches to the side to use the woman’s body to block it from view. You can see how distracting that highlight is, and how much better the image is without it.
Backgrounds are virtually as important as the subject. Always be aware of what’s going on behind your subjects and your photography will improve significantly.