How to Choose and Utilize Backgrounds in Portraits

How to Choose and Utilize Backgrounds in Portraits

05 JAN, 2020 | BY YU CHENHAO

A background always plays an important role in portrait photography. The inner world of your characters can be revealed through the interrelationships between the backdrop and your model. Appropriate use of backdrops can highlight the theme, create atmosphere and enhance aesthetic values.

Here are some tips for you to choose and utilize backgrounds in your portraits.


Choose the background according to your subject

In portrait photography, the photographer shall choose the background according to his or her subject. What do you want to mainly express in your works? If you intend to show the model’s face or beauty, it may be better to choose backgrounds of concise and easy style, in order to extrude the subject. If your focus on showing personality, you can choose corresponding backdrops to match with your subject. Specific backgrounds or environments can reveal the inner world of your subject.


Adjust your aperture

Once you pick a background, there is also necessary to clearly know the role the background plays in your work, and that means different sets of aperture. If you would like to convey valuable information through the backgrounds, which can help the viewer fully understand your subject, you should set a narrow aperture to clearly show every detail on your backgrounds. If you just want to extrude your subject, you can absolutely set a wide aperture, blurring out distractions in the background, drawing more attention to the subject, and creating bokeh.


Create Color Contrast Between Subject & Backdrop

Your subject and the background constitute the majority of the frame. To make sure the background won’t overpower your subject or nearly no space for the background, you need to leave reasonable space for background according to your intention and create color contrast between the subject and the background. This will help avoid a sense of congestion or absence and draw your eye to the key area of the photo.


Remove distractions on the background

An appropriate background can embellish your subject, while the background with distractions on it will destroy the overall appearance. Here are some common mistakes you need to avoid:

1. The background is messy and miscellaneous;

2.Overuse of minor elements;

3.Backgrounds that do not fit your subject at all.



The function of a background is to define your subject, but not replace your subject. Hopping the above tips can give you some references and inspirations, and help you create perfect works in the future. Happy shooting!



Please contact me if you have any question about backdrop use. Your requirements are always our priority! Check out our backdrop collection for more inspirations.

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