Hey guys! You might have seen recently the guest post I did for The Nerd’s Wife, a friend of mine from way back in my Chapel Hill days, (think freshman in high school.) but if you didn’t, I decided to post a copy of my post here as well!

Let me start by saying that I dearly love my mom.  My love for photography springs from her and her CONSTANTLY taking pictures when I was a kid and being a “semi pro” of sorts.  She taught me the first things I learned about photography and we can honestly make a pretty good team when it comes to working weddings.

My Mom shooting at my cousin's wedding rehearsal, 2007.

My mom

There are a couple of things in particular that my mom can be very picky about, which I am thankful for because oddly enough, I don’t think I have ever really heard it anywhere else.

Watch the placement of objects in the background:

It is very important to pay attention to what is going on in the background of your subjects. One move to the left or right can ruin a good picture and no matter how much you Photoshop it, the photo just will not be as good had you moved a few steps to eliminate some clutter.

Rule #1: Do Not Allow Poles or Trees to Grow Out of Heads:

This is a biggie with my mom.  I can remember her being so irritated with the photographer who took a posed picture of my sister in elementary school as the class favorite to where it looked like she had a basket of flowers growing out of her head.  A couple of steps or simply removing the basket for the picture could have convinced my mother to buy that thing. (This was before our Rockstar Nerd’s Wife took over the yearbook editing at the beloved high school I left for Dallas pastures back in the early 2000’s.)



Do you see that tree growing out of this guy’s head?  It either looks like this guy has a REALLY strange haircut OR could it be the photographer was not paying attention?? I think the latter. (I can say that, I was the photographer, <insert blush here>.)

Rule #2: Do Not Cut Off Body Parts At the Joints

I do not know why this is not discussed more often, but as a photographer when you are cropping the image in the camera, (no “I can just photoshop it later” attitude—makes one look ditsy and gasp: AMATEUR!) make sure you do not cut the image off at joints on the arms and legs, because it might make the subject look like an amputee when they really are not.  Instead, opt for cropping the image below the feet, or at the shins for the legs or in the middle of the forearm for the arms.

Places to NOT cut off:

  • -the ankles—makes subject look like he has no feet
  • -the knees—makes subject look like he had the same surgery my great grandmother had where she had to cut off the lower part of her leg.
  • -the wrist–makes subject appear to have no hands.
  • -the elbow–cuts off the lower part of the arm
  • -the waist–this one is easy to forget—but you don’t want the subject to appear to be missing half a body. 🙂

I am sure you get the picture.  However, in case you don’t, I’ve included a visual: 🙂


See! The photo on the right clearly implies that my cousin Ryan actually has the rest of his legs, we just chose to not show them in the shot.

Rule #3: Remove Distractions From the Background!

One time I saw this BEAUTIFUL family photo.  The color and exposure were beautiful, and the family’s faces were all so happy and perfect, but I just could not get past the hideous air conditioning units in the background of the photograph!  Now, this might be appropriate if the family owned an air conditioning company, but I doubt that.  I would give you a preview here, but copyright infringement, etc. come into play, plus I would not want to embarrass anyone. (No worries, it was NOT our dear Nerd’s Wife!) Nevertheless, this brings me to my next point: Remove Distractions From the Background.

It is important to take notice of what might creep up in the photograph that could distract from your lovely subject(s.)  Notice in the example below the distracting barrel in the photograph.


There are a couple of options you could do to eliminate the distraction:

a.) You could photoshop the heck out of this. (not a good idea, lots of work, degrading your file, etc. in other words, too much work, think smart, not hard!)

b.) You could move the distraction.

c.) You can move your body to completely remove the distraction.  (YES! Your body can move around to a different angle during a shoot!  This is something that most, if not all, photographers face learning at some point.  We tend to forget that we have the ability to move behind the camera and change the shot for the better.)

d.) Move your subject.  Sometimes you just have to find another spot.

e.) Crop the photo (best if you do it before you click that shutter,) to eliminate the problem all together, which is what I did here.

Well, that is about it for my guest post! I hope that if you were not able to learn something new I was able to refresh your memory on object placements and paying attention to the background of your photography subjects.  Feel free to check out my blog about my latest photography sessions, my recent home purchase and decoration, and my adventures in teaching high school multimedia classes, along with a few tutorials! 🙂 Come on and visit at christinaleephoto.wordpress.com I look forward to hearing from you!


CarpenterChristinaWEBSIZEChristina is a part time photographer and full time high school Multimedia teacher in Arlington, Texas.  Visit her blog to learn about her latest photo shoots, promotions, multimedia tutorials, free web resources, and more!