One of the most enjoyable times for me to photograph is when I am doing a stock shoot on location. I like the challenge provided by setting up a realistic looking scene in a new place. An important item to remember when setting up a scene is not only to focus on the main subject, but plan the background as well.
In today’s shot of Holly at the health club, I placed Tyler in the background doing curls with a dumbbell to better communicate the theme. Combining this model placement and a shallow depth-of-field not only adds depth to the image but increases the ‘realism’ of the shot.
Another example of this technique is demonstrated in last month’s laboratory photo shoot. By placing models Ron and Julie working on the bench behind Michelle, the scene becomes more interesting.
One drawback to adding background people is a bit of complication to the lighting. In the health club shoot I set a low-power monolight aimed specifically at the background model(s). I set the exposure for this light at approximately half f/stop below the subject exposure. I wanted them to pop, but not overpower the main subject.
This technique can be utilized in recreational photography as well. By paying attention to the background and either adding or removing people, the impact of a shot can be greatly increased.