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By Kristen Prelipp-Oguntoyinbo

How to Better Photograph Your Family- Tip Four

By Kristen Prelipp-Oguntoyinbo Posted August 4, 2011 at 5:58 pm

TIP 4: WATCH THE BACKGROUND

It seems counter-intuitive, but any successful photograph BEGINS with the background. A bad background can ruin an otherwise amazing photo. Think of how a painter would work on the background first and then, layer by layer, add the protagonists. When filling up your rectangle (see tip 1), pick a clean or pleasing background so that you can focus on the action, a.k.a. your family.

HERE IS HOW NOT TO DO IT! So here we are in August in North Carolina. It is a hot as Hades and I am at home with a full slumber party of five- my children and their Prelipp Lojk cousins. They had not seen each other all summer so the mood was very festive. The kids were having a raucous game that involved balloons, teams, rules incomprehensible to me and A LOT of screaming. I first tried photographing them in a direction with a really busy background. The detritus of my life, closets, toys, a chair fort, etc. made for a very busy background. So you can hardly focus in on the action.
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When shooting digital you can just look at the back of your camera to see how things are looking. I could see right away that the background was too busy. So, I just took a position at the opposite end of the room to get a different view point. The result is below.
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Now, with this nice clean background I could just follow the game until I got the right mix of elements. I tend to take a lot of photographs while I am at it. When shooting digital, why not?
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Before I put the camera away, I took a quick photo of my favorite people.
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Snapshots from the Hill is a column about photography and the stories behind the pictures. Kristin Prelipp Oguntoyinbo, owner of KPO Photo in downtown Carrboro, has spent her adult life telling stories with her camera — capturing the everyday and extraordinary with her camera lens. She graduated from the UNC Chapel Hill School of Journalism and worked for The Chapel Hill News and The News & Observer before founding KPO Photo in 2001. Kristin’s passions revolve around this amazing community we live in — raising her three children, cultivating her garden, and documenting the important moments in her clients’ lives. She writes about the art of photography and the local people and happenings she has met and experienced while exploring her craft. She is very open to suggestions for stories. If you know of a person or event you think deserves to be documented, please write to her at kpophoto@chapelboro.com.

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