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Considering Foreground And Background

Lesson 17 from: Mastering the Art of Photography

Chris Weston

Considering Foreground And Background

Lesson 17 from: Mastering the Art of Photography

Chris Weston

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Lesson Info

17. Considering Foreground And Background

Most photographs contain three elements: the subject, and what’s in front of and behind the subject. Chris puts on his walking boots to reveal the importance of considering all three elements, and show how to use foreground and background to strengthen composition.


Class Trailer

Class Introduction - Three Steps To Creative Photography


Firing The Creative Mind - Part 1: The Camera Points Both Ways


Firing The Creative Mind - Part 2: Letting Go Of Judgement


Firing The Creative Mind - Part 3: Detaching From Outcomes


Practicing Mindfulness In Photography


Finding The Visual Narrative


Behind-the-scenes: Naples


Seeing Beneath The Surface Of Things


Lesson Info

Considering Foreground And Background

In real life, our brain tends to fixate on whatever it is. We're paying attention to ignoring what may or may not be going on in the foreground and background. But as soon as we turn real life action into a still photograph, the whole image becomes our center of attention, and whatever is in the foreground and background gets noticed, so foreground and background are critical elements in composition. Now four grounds play one of two roles in photography. They are either the royal box overlooking the stage on which your visual story is being performed, or they are the staging posts from which the visual journey begins. If the foreground is playing neither of those roles, then it has no purpose being in the picture space at all. So let me get my boots on and show you exactly what I mean. So what's my story here? Well, I want to take you on a visual journey from the foreground here to the farmhouse over there. Now, if I were to make that journey for real, I'd have to climb over this wall ...

because it's in my way. The wall is an obstruction that is stopping me from getting where I want to go, and what happens physically happens visually, too. So if I put the wall in the foreground of my composition, rather than being foreground interest, it becomes a barrier that prevents the visual journey from happening. Notice how foreground and background are disconnected by the presence of the wall. Artistically, we want to connect the elements in the scene, bring them together. So back in the real world, if I wanted to get to the house, I'd look for a gate. And as if by magic, here's a gate. Now look what happens when I bring this gate into play. In the composition, there's an easy flow from foreground to middle ground to background. Now the wall, instead of being a barrier, becomes a visual tool that leads the eye where you want it to go. Now. In this scenario, the foreground is the staging post. The point from where the journey begins. The house is the background is our destination, and that's an important consideration in any visual story. Just like any good story, there needs to be a beginning, a middle and an end. The other role of foreground can play is to be the viewing point, the place from which the viewer observes the action beyond now. Ideally, this young point needs to be a physical object in the composition that draws the viewer in and metaphorically gives them somewhere to stand within. The frame, for example, compared these two images in the first image. The viewer is passive, as if watching the sunset on a television set. In the second image, the viewer is there in the moment, bathed by the sons. Dying, rays disconnected observer versus engaged participant. It's easy, I know when your attention is focused on the main subject and you're thinking about cameras and settings to forget about the peripheral elements in the scene. But the moment you press the shutter and the images captured in that single photograph, every element becomes a significant part in the visual story. So it's vital that before you lock in that shot, think about the beginning and the end foreground and background, because they can break an image or make it

Ratings and Reviews

Gary Hook

Wow, what a wonderful journey. I love the concept of telling a story with one's photos and as I go through past images, I'm seeing them in a much different perspective. That's the good news, The bad? The lost opportunities I never 'saw' before; however that is a good thing. There is so much to internalize with the material so that it can get out of the head and into the 'heart'. I also found the concept really helps me with composition, both in camera and post. Biggest take away, as Chris underscored in his closing, is to slooooow down, take the time and feel it. Don't be so quick to leave one scene as there remain other aspects, yet to be discovered. A great experience that I truly enjoyed Thank you


I loved this course - in particular the latter part of it in which he demonstrated how post processing lets you really tell the story of the image. Another fabulous course. Thanks Chris & thanks Creative Live.

Abdullah Alahmari

Thanks a lot to mr. Chris Weston This course is great and It is a 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 course for me. Beside the other course ( mastering photographic composition and visual storytelling) both courses are Complementing to each other and highly recommended.

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