60 
The background in a picture is of utmost impor-
tance, for two reasons: one, the background can
make or break the scene; two, the background
helps to tell the story of the subject and establish
a setting.
Compare the opening picture on the Lesson 10
title page with this picture of a girl I photographed
in a town in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. This
picture is nice enough, but I’ve seen red walls like
that in Brooklyn, New York. Whats more, the
background is rather boring. Even if you didnt
know the location of the shot on the preceding
page, you may have wondered where it was taken
because its a much more interesting photo.
In the motorcycle picture, notice how the girl’s
head is framed by the wall in the background.
That was not an accident. I carefully composed
the picture so that her head and upper body stood
out in the photograph. Whenever I frame a per-
son, I try to isolate his or her head in a similar
 61
Here is another example of how important the
background is in helping to tell the story of a sub-
ject. I also encountered this man in the Gobi Des-
ert. I could have taken one of these pictures in my
backyard; the other I could have taken only in a
place where they have camels, such as Mongolia.
So, watch your backgrounds. Your pictures will be
better if you do.

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