The background is one of the most important compositional choices a photographer makes. What to include, how it is lit (in relationship to the foreground subject), where the subject fits into it, are all choices that go into the creation of an image.
Sometimes the choice is dictated (circumstance, direction). Other times it is purely the photographer’s aesthetic.
Sometimes with either of the above the choice isn’t so clear.
In photographing Dance Theater for Jacksonville Center of the Arts (JCA) the location (and thus the background) was a given. We shot in a dance studio, with relatively low ceilings and the accoutrements thereof: mirrors and balance bars. Marked floors. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had initially wanted the background to fade to black. The mirrors made that impossible (and as there was 40 or so feet of them I did not have enough masking cloth to mitigate their effect). Therefore the bars mounted on the walls were visible, although significantly shifted from the exposure on the subject.
It turns out that I liked them there. It gives context and screams dance!. It also provides a clue on jumps, for example, of the altitude that the dancers achieve.
However, for some shots, the bar serves as that classic element that detracts from the shot. It cuts the dancer in 2 (particularly the head), and so I removed it.
In some shots, like this one of Taylor, I’m not sure what the right answer is:
It bothers me to some extent as the bar bisects her lower leg, and yet leaving it shows the height of the jump. For the life of me I just don’t know which I prefer.
Sometimes there just are no right answers.