Monday, September 17, 2007

Using Foreground Elements

Placing foreground elements within you shot not only create depth in a photograph, it is an excellent way to frame your subject.

This shot here was done for a hospital client in their lab. By placing beakers and other glassware on a cart in front of the lens, allowed me to frame my subject easily by moving the glassware for a pleasant composition. I lit the lab technition using a softbox from the left, I used a grid with a full CTB gel, this is where the blue cast is coming from on her left side of her head.

Using the backs and shoulders of other in a photo is another good way to frame you intended subject. I was shooting for a Real Estate developer who operates hundreds of apartment complexes around the country. I took one of their sales persons outside on an overcast day and put together this composition using an on sight maintenance person and another sales person as perspective renters.

I used a Nikon SB-800 on a stand pumped through a small octobox to the subjects right (camera left) a fill card was used to bounce fill into the shadow side of the face.

Here are a few more examples applying the same techniques as above. Using foreground elements really help to draw the viewers eye where you want them to go. The only lighting added to the UPS photo below was a fill card held by my assistant to the left of the frame just out of sight. The fill card bounces sunlight back into the subjects opening the shadow side of the face.

The last photo was shot for an oil & gas client in their drafting department. Once again by use of a foreground element depth and framing directs the viewers eye to what is important...Your subject.

I've been shooting for Fortune 500 companies for over 24 years specializing in annual report work. I love this type of work, I never know whats going to handed to me in the way of subjects or weather. Be sure to visit my website to view additional work.


Allie said...

Thanks for starting a blog! I've been intrigued by your work since seeing the Detroit People Mover shot on Strobist.

I'm sure you got a lot of offers after your "Day w/o Assistant" blog, but I'm in Denver and if you ever need a stand in, I would love to help out. I'm a girl, but I'm tall and strong and can lug lots of stuff. :)

I'm an engineer by day, but have been taking photos my entire life and in the past couple of years started formally doing so on the side. I'm trying to build my business the right way, so the opportunity to learn from someone with your talent/skill/knowledge would be fantastic!

Anyway, you can contact me at: if you ever need a hand. Thanks! Allison

Sean McCormack said...

Hi Dave,
Followed over from Strobist originally, but I think I came from Dave Ziser today.

Thanks for the recent post on composition and the link to this one.

Everything you say rings true, but I actually find the bottles in the first image are forcing me in uncomfortably. Maybe I'm just being too aware, and that is the problem, rather than the image itself.

I'm hazarding a guess here too, and that is that the photos were exported from Lightroom, just based on the look of the copyright watermark.
If you want to change the font you can use Jeffrey's configuration manager at

Thanks again for your willingness to share.