Photo Tip: Simplify the scene

Simplifying the scene focus on one main subject

Simplifying the scene focus on one main subject

Photo Tip: Simplify the scene

Many photographers try to include everything including the kitchen sink into a photograph and that works for many types of photographs including landscapes, panoramas, skylines and urban environments. In my opinion, a really good photograph should only have a single idea in your photograph that conveys a complete story that hopefully engages us.


Simplifying the scene with a blurry easy identified background

Simplifying the scene with a blurry easy identified background

Experimenting and pairing down

Pairing things down to one subject is not so easy as one would think especially in the context of creating a whole story that fits with your subject and the environment around your subject. A good way to isolate your subject is to move around and experiment with different angles while trying to create an uncluttered yet flattering background that adds a sense of time and place. Try to move around finding an ideal angle while including or excluding background that does not flatter yout subject.




Another technique is to use selective focus and depth of field by experimenting with your aperture and blurring the background to varying degrees.  On DSLR cameras, widening or setting lower f-stops in aperture priority mode will incur variable blurring to the background based the f stop setting. On certain point and shoot cameras, you may also have this feature with with an image icon that represents a focus on a subject with a blurry background.



This mental process of choosing and working with your subject presents opportunities to experiment and find unique ways of composition and featuring your subject and the backgrounds. Simplifying and focusing on your subject gives a better way of connecting with the subject and creating simple stories that your audience can relate to and enjoy.

Thanks for viewing this weekly photo tip on simplify the scene, if you enjoyed it, please do share it with any of the social media buttons located around the post. Thank you.



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8 Responses to Photo Tip: Simplify the scene

  1. Beverly Burmeier August 12, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    Just wondering why you didn’t crop a little closer (on right) for the butterfly image. I tend to crop photos tight but wonder if I should back off sometimes–and what the criteria is for doing that.

    • Noel August 12, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

      Mostly personal preference, just wanted to include more of the background in this instance.

  2. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 11, 2014 at 5:34 am #

    Great tips Noel! I’m often guilty of being a bit of a “point and shoot” type photographer and it’s great to have little nuggets of advice like this that will help me remember how to take a better picture in future 🙂

  3. Marcia August 10, 2014 at 5:50 am #

    Great tips, Noel. I’m usually the one trying to include everything as most times I don’t have the luxury of time to compose the shot — although I recognize the importance of picking the right focus to tell the story. Love the second shot.

  4. Michele {Malaysian Meanders} August 8, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    Great tips. I always seem to be in so much of a hurry when taking a photo since there are usually 4 other people impatiently waiting for me. I don’t have time to compose and set up a shot. I’ll have to really set aside some time to practice and learn what in the world is a f-stop.

  5. travelnwrite August 7, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

    Good reminders with excellent illustrations! A useful post, Noel. Hope you are staying safe as the weather approaches Hawaii (if you are there, that is).

  6. budget jan August 7, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    Thanks for these tips Noel. I see what you mean by focussing attention on the one thing. My favourite is the water shot with pylon. Beautiful.


  1. Photo Tip: Simplify the scene - September 3, 2014

    […] Photo Tip: Simplify the scene […]

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