Photography Tips: Avoiding Distracting Elements

Follow these photography tips to help avoid filling your shots with distracting elements. This will ensure that your pictures spotlight the subject you intend and are more pleasing to the eye.

Avoid a Cluttered Background

A busy background can draw the eye away from the main subject of the picture. Unless the cluttered background adds to the personality of the shot, be sure to have a clean, stable background for your shoot. A single color or faint pattern make for a nice backdrop. If there is visual clutter in the picture, attention flows to irrelevant portions of the photo, and the impact is gone within seconds. This is especially important in subject photography. If you take away from the object being photographed, then the portrait has not done it's job.


The eye naturally wanders toward the bright colors in photographs. Be aware of brightness problems, unnatural highlights and other distractions that may hurt your photography. You may be able to blur out the brightness in the photo in order to bring focus in on the main subject. Remember, if you are editing the photo with photo editing software, be sure to keep it natural. If you edit the surroundings too harshly, it will end up looking fake. Do not overdo the adjustments just to get the main object to stand out. Next time, concentrate on getting a different angle during the next photo.

Main Objects

To have a major impact, the eyes of the viewer must be drawn to the main point of interest of the picture. The photo has to have a main point and this main point must be strong in order to stand out from the rest of the picture. You can make the object pop by placing it in a surrounding of a different color. For example, a bright green object will stand out against a group of black objects. The eye will be naturally drawn to the bright object.


If the main subject is only taking up a small portion of the photo, it will not be noticed as quickly. A viewer may even think that a surrounding area is the main focal point. You can avoid this by making sure that the main object takes up at least 20% of the photo. If you really want the object to stand up, have it take up 80% of the photo. This will remove all other objects from the background, forcing the viewer to look at the focal point that you have chosen.


It is especially important to avoid distracting elements when you are photographing people. They will not appreciate being washed out due to a brightly colored car behind them. Be sure that when photographing families that one person does not wear a brightly colored shirt or it will wash out the rest of the family.

Following the advice above will not only help the quality of your photos. It will also help you keep clients coming back for more portraits in the future.

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