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Mastering the Art of Photography

Lesson 17 of 39

Considering Foreground And Background

Chris Weston

Mastering the Art of Photography

Chris Weston

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Lesson Info

17. Considering Foreground And Background
Most photographs contain three elements: the subject, and what’s in front of and behind the subject. Chris puts on his walking boots to reveal the importance of considering all three elements, and show how to use foreground and background to strengthen composition.


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7 Behind-the-scenes: Naples Duration:07:52
9 Finding Inspiration Duration:03:19
10 Slowing Down Duration:03:57
11 Three Reasons To Shoot RAW Duration:02:29
14 WYSIWYG Duration:04:15
15 Choosing Lenses Duration:05:02
16 Perspective Duration:02:44
19 Separate And Isolate Duration:02:32
20 The Art Of Creative Exposure Duration:06:38
21 Focus On The Story Duration:04:20
22 The Passage Of Time Duration:03:00
24 Color vs. Black & White Duration:03:09
25 The Decisive Moment Duration:03:00
30 Case Study: Moody Blues Duration:03:29
31 Image Reviews Duration:03:02
33 Image Review: The Golf Course Duration:02:32
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35 Image Review: Gone Fishing Duration:02:24
36 Image Review: Promenade Duration:01:47
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Lesson Info

Considering Foreground And Background

In real life, our brain tends to fixate on whatever it is. We're paying attention to ignoring what may or may not be going on in the foreground and background. But as soon as we turn real life action into a still photograph, the whole image becomes our center of attention, and whatever is in the foreground and background gets noticed, so foreground and background are critical elements in composition. Now four grounds play one of two roles in photography. They are either the royal box overlooking the stage on which your visual story is being performed, or they are the staging posts from which the visual journey begins. If the foreground is playing neither of those roles, then it has no purpose being in the picture space at all. So let me get my boots on and show you exactly what I mean. So what's my story here? Well, I want to take you on a visual journey from the foreground here to the farmhouse over there. Now, if I were to make that journey for real, I'd have to climb over this wall ...

because it's in my way. The wall is an obstruction that is stopping me from getting where I want to go, and what happens physically happens visually, too. So if I put the wall in the foreground of my composition, rather than being foreground interest, it becomes a barrier that prevents the visual journey from happening. Notice how foreground and background are disconnected by the presence of the wall. Artistically, we want to connect the elements in the scene, bring them together. So back in the real world, if I wanted to get to the house, I'd look for a gate. And as if by magic, here's a gate. Now look what happens when I bring this gate into play. In the composition, there's an easy flow from foreground to middle ground to background. Now the wall, instead of being a barrier, becomes a visual tool that leads the eye where you want it to go. Now. In this scenario, the foreground is the staging post. The point from where the journey begins. The house is the background is our destination, and that's an important consideration in any visual story. Just like any good story, there needs to be a beginning, a middle and an end. The other role of foreground can play is to be the viewing point, the place from which the viewer observes the action beyond now. Ideally, this young point needs to be a physical object in the composition that draws the viewer in and metaphorically gives them somewhere to stand within. The frame, for example, compared these two images in the first image. The viewer is passive, as if watching the sunset on a television set. In the second image, the viewer is there in the moment, bathed by the sons. Dying, rays disconnected observer versus engaged participant. It's easy, I know when your attention is focused on the main subject and you're thinking about cameras and settings to forget about the peripheral elements in the scene. But the moment you press the shutter and the images captured in that single photograph, every element becomes a significant part in the visual story. So it's vital that before you lock in that shot, think about the beginning and the end foreground and background, because they can break an image or make it

Class Description


  • See images with a creative eye.
  • Capture artistic photographs of the most popular subjects.
  • Choose the right lens and camera settings for the image you want to create.
  • Recognize and capture the “decisive moment”.
  • Add visual mood and emotion to your photographs.
  • Develop your own unique photographic style.
  • Find what inspires you and apply that inspiration to your image-making.
  • Fine-tune color, tone, and visual presence with easy-to-learn Adobe Lightroom adjustments.


Once you’ve mastered basic camera craft and photo-technique, what is the next step in advancing your photographic skillset? In this in-depth course, award-winner Chris Weston shares an approach to photography that has creativity at its heart, and reveals the secrets and professional techniques that will get you creating photographs that ‘sing’.

Taking you on a step-by-step journey, from vision to print, Chris shows you how to: tap into your natural creative instincts; ‘see’ much-photographed and everyday subjects with a unique vision; set a creative intention and get the camera to capture it authentically; and, with a few simple techniques, process superb print-ready photographs. Through ‘in-the-field’ examples and inspirational case studies, he reveals the nuances of composition that can make or break a photograph, and describes the creative tools that turn snapshots into stunning photographs good enough to adorn any wall.

Delivered in an easy-to-follow, down-to-earth style, using ‘real-life’ examples and ‘live’ tuition, this course builds on the practicalities of camera technique to equip you with the creativity and vision to see, capture and process compelling photographs time after time, whatever your camera or level of experience.


  • Beginners who want to create better photographs.
  • Intermediate photographers who want to refine their image-making and be more creative.
  • All photographers looking for inspiration and creativity.
  • Outdoor photographers interested in travel, landscape/cityscape, nature, sport, and wildlife photography.



I loved this course - in particular the latter part of it in which he demonstrated how post processing lets you really tell the story of the image. Another fabulous course. Thanks Chris & thanks Creative Live.

Abdullah Alahmari

Thanks a lot to mr. Chris Weston This course is great and It is a 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 course for me. Beside the other course ( mastering photographic composition and visual storytelling) both courses are Complementing to each other and highly recommended.

Charles Ewing

Fantastic course. Great photographer, teacher and storyteller!