Having an uncluttered and pleasing background in a photo helps to pull the viewer’s eyes to the subject. If you are using a DSLR camera and a fast lens, it’s much easier to do this because you can blur the background, and as long as there are not too many colors, it’s almost as though your subject is standing in front of a backdrop. If you don’t have the luxury of an expensive camera and lens, however, you can still create great backdrops with little to no money.
Look for a building. Buildings, especially old brick ones, offer great backgrounds for portraits. Depending on whether you have your subject stand away from the wall or up against it will determine the look and feel of the photograph. If you are taking your son or daughter’s senior portraits, this is a very popular pose. It’s hard to mess up a brick wall as long as your picture is in focus and well composed (think rule of thirds).
Look down. The ground is always a great background. Whether it’s leaves, grass, or sand, having your subject lie on the ground and look up at the camera is a very creative way to take someone’s picture and it always looks great as long as you are directly overhead. Try standing on something to get a better perspective.
Look away. Resist the urge to always put your subject directly in front of something. Usually what happens is the background becomes so busy and cluttered, the subject virtually disappears into the photo. They are visible, of course, but they are no longer the focus. Instead, find a neat expanse, such as a field, a wide open park, or an alley and make that your background. Better yet, include a path trailing away from view to incorporate leading lines.
Look around. There may be things in your own home, such as blankets, tapestries, rugs, or painted walls that will make an interesting background. Look for something with a unique pattern and a somewhat even wash of color. Check to make sure the color compliments whatever your subject is wearing, as well as their skin tone.