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Vacation Picture Basics


A family is on vacation and wants to get a nice portrait shot with the wondrous background scene. The problem is when the family gets home and looks at the portrait and realizes that they tried to get too much background into the shot and they can barely tell who is in the picture. This scene can be anywhere: on vacation, at the beach, even in the backyard. The most important thing to remember with portraits is that the subject is the person or people in the photograph. I recommend head and shoulder shots for the most part. It is okay to pan out a bit to let some background in, but too much background may cause a subject conflict and the viewer’s eye may not be able to tell what to focus on.


If you pan out to get a better picture of an action portrait then the background is too distracting. To fix this you can decrease the aperture setting on your camera to narrow the depth of field and this will cause the background to be out of focus while keeping the subject in focus. This technique takes a bit of practice but the effect is worth it. Depth of field means your subject is in perfect focus while the background becomes out of focus causing a blurred effect. Notice in the sample photo, the subjects are clearly in focus while the ocean background is a bit fuzzy. This is a nice effect. Most people tend to shoot what they see with there eye. This becomes too distracting with much more background than necessary


While a point and shoot camera usually does not allow the user to change aperture setting, this same depth of field effect can be obtained by simply moving closer to the subject. The closer the subject is to camera, the narrower the depth of field it will appear in. Notice in the sample image, the subjects appear perfectly in focus and the background a bit blurred. This is an example of depth of field. It is a beautiful effect.

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