I was working on a post on the difference between “Art” and “journalism” but I don’t think these are the correct terms to use. I think what I really want to talk about is the importance (to me) of backgrounds.

I was trained in B&W fine art. Our instructor taught us not only to look at the subject, but at the whole image. In other words, pay attention to the background. I think it was the jazz musician B.B.King who said the most important part of music was the space between the notes. Photography is very much the same…


This image is all about the background. The subject, a leaf of a Skunk Cabbage is relatively plain. The real interest is the reflections in the water at the top of the image, and the texture of the leaves at the bottom.



This image is all background. The “subject” is the entire image.



This image is about negative space. Is the subject the shadowed people? The blurry brick background emphasizes the urban feel to the photo.

In summary, pay attention, not only to what you are taking a picture of, but what you are not taking.

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