Cluttered backgrounds can be a photo-killer. An otherwise good photo can be reduced to irrelevancy by a bad background.
After photographing a Memorial Day observance at a local cemetery I spotted a man putting flowers on his father’s grave.
Standing up I made this photo:
It’s looking down on him a bit but the background is nice and clean with nothing but grave markers in the backgrounds. There’s nothing to distract the reader’s attention from the main subject in this photo.
Wanting to try a different angle I bent down a bit and shot this photo, hoping to make an American flag more dominant in the foreground. Problem was, by shooting from a lower angle the background changed and became too busy with the flower bush in the background.
Sure, the second photo is useable but the flowers in the background are distracting and compete for the viewer’s attention.
So, don’t pay attention to just the main subject of the photo. Look also at the background and determine if it’s going to distract from the subject. If the background is wrong change the angle of the photo to minimize or remove the offending background.
By the way, I know this is pretty clichéd photo but it is a better photo than those I shot at the Memorial Day service earlier in the day.