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A plan in pho­tog­ra­phy, paint­ing, cin­e­ma is an area on a flat space of an image. There are three plans — front, mid­dle and rear. These are three zones in the pic­ture that cre­ate a sense of vol­ume in the frame. This effect can be achieved due to the fact that the pho­tog­ra­ph­er, using var­i­ous tech­niques, “push­es back” the plans, plac­ing them at dif­fer­ent dis­tances from each oth­er.

We fig­ure out what plans are in pho­tog­ra­phy, why you need ver­sa­til­i­ty and how to cre­ate it dur­ing shoot­ing.

By cre­at­ing and enhanc­ing the plan in the frame, the pho­tog­ra­ph­er improves the com­po­si­tion of the frame and makes the pic­ture more volu­mi­nous and inter­est­ing to look at / Pho­to: unsplash.com

Foreground — why you need it, how to do it

The fore­ground or fore­ground is the area clos­est to the view­er. This can be a space that “pulls” the view­er into the frame, or an object that blocks off part of the scene. For exam­ple, bush­es, door arch, win­dow frame. If the pho­to has a fore­ground, it will appear more volu­mi­nous.

How to create a foreground in a photo shoot

  • Place an object between the lens and the mod­el.

Tree branch­es, bush leaves, grass, a wall are suit­able, because of which the cam­era “peeps out” and fol­lows the sub­ject.

Let the assis­tant hold the plucked branch­es of plants near the lens or ask him to throw some­thing up! It can be feath­ers, con­fet­ti, flower leaves, ban­knotes.

  • Catch the light.

If the sun or arti­fi­cial sources shine into the cam­era, you can cap­ture beau­ti­ful high­lights and flare. To do this, the light source must be on the bor­der of the frame, or par­tial­ly over­lapped by some­thing. For exam­ple, the head of the mod­el. There is no ready-made recipe — you need to care­ful­ly look into the viewfind­er and catch the moment.

If every­thing is done cor­rect­ly, the glare will be in the cor­ner of the frame and will def­i­nite­ly come to the fore, cre­at­ing vol­ume / Pho­to: unsplash.com

In this case, this is what in the fore­ground will frame the mid­dle and back­ground, high­light­ing them and cre­at­ing an accent. This tech­nique is called fram­ing. Any­thing can be used as a frame — a win­dow, an ele­ment of a fence pat­tern, an inter­lac­ing of branch­es, or even the mod­el’s hands.

The frame can be a win­dow, a door­way, an emp­ty pic­ture frame, a grill, and even the model’s hands stretched for­ward towards the lens / Pho­to: unsplash.com

Medium plan in photography

The mid­dle ground or back­ground in pho­tog­ra­phy is the com­po­si­tion­al cen­ter of the frame. This is where the view­er’s eye should be direct­ed and where the main action takes place. For exam­ple, the mid­dle ground in a por­trait is a human fig­ure, in food pho­tog­ra­phy it is a dish, and in a report from a con­cert, the musi­cians on the stage, while the audi­ence in the hall can serve as the fore­ground.

In prin­ci­ple, it is impos­si­ble to cre­ate a frame with­out a medi­um plan. Pho­tog­ra­phers can be scold­ed for the lack of diver­si­ty and a flat pic­ture, but even in this case, the view­er will look some­where, some­thing will hap­pen in the frame.

How to get the viewer to study the average shot — 5 life hacks

Any obvi­ous dif­fer­ence, a strong dif­fer­ence, makes a per­son care­ful­ly study the pho­to. For exam­ple, it’s hard not to pay atten­tion to a white Per­sian cat on a per­fect­ly black cyclo­rama.

The sim­plest exam­ples are a dark object on a light back­ground or a light object on a dark one / Pho­to: unsplash.com

But con­trast is not only a com­bi­na­tion of black and white. Objects in the cen­tral part of the frame may dif­fer in size (large and small), pos­es (sta­t­ic and dynam­ic, in motion), tex­ture and mate­ri­als (wool and met­al). For exam­ple, a cac­tus among bal­loons.

High­light­ing with col­or is anoth­er way to grab the atten­tion of the view­er. For exam­ple, put a mod­el in bright red on an incon­spic­u­ous gray back­ground, a dull autumn or win­ter land­scape. This exam­ple refers us to the laws of paint­ing, when it is assumed that the fore­ground should be more sat­u­rat­ed than the back­ground.


Read also:

Itten Cir­cle for a Pho­tog­ra­ph­er: How to Use, 10 Schemes with Pho­to Exam­ples

If you like the whole pho­to to be bright and juicy, just high­light the main object in the frame with a sep­a­rate col­or / Pho­to: unsplash.com
  • Fore­ground.

The fore­ground not only enhances the vol­ume, but also directs the view­er’s atten­tion. For exam­ple, if part of the frame is occu­pied by a bor­der or blurred foliage, the view­er has few­er areas to look at.

High­light the cen­tral object in the frame with light! For exam­ple, use light-shap­ing noz­zles that allow you to accu­rate­ly direct the light flux to the right place — beau­ty dish­es, reflec­tors, tubes, hon­ey­combs. Thus, the mod­el will be lit, and all oth­er parts of the scene will be dark­ened.

In addi­tion, the object can be sep­a­rat­ed from the back­ground by back­light. To do this, place the source behind and to the side of the mod­el. A strip­box is per­fect as a noz­zle.


Read also:

What is a strip­box and how to use it

What is a beau­ty dish and how to use it

Noz­zles for stu­dio light: what are and how to use. Detailed guide


  • Guide lines.

If pos­si­ble, find lines in the scene that will point to the mod­el. Build­ings, poles, branch­es, stalls, shore­lines, folds of cloth­ing, and hands are also suit­able. This is the most dif­fi­cult piece of advice that requires the pho­tog­ra­pher’s expe­ri­ence and vision.

The sim­plest exam­ple is a road or rail­road con­verg­ing to the hori­zon / Pho­to: unsplash.com

Background in photography

The back­ground or back­ground in a pho­to­graph is the back­ground. Ide­al­ly, thanks to him, the view­er under­stands where the action is tak­ing place. The excep­tion is mono­chrome stu­dio back­grounds. The main task of the back­ground is to cre­ate an atmos­phere, but not to draw atten­tion to itself.

How to make a background

The clas­sic rule in paint­ing is that the back­ground should be lighter than the fore­ground and mid­dle ground. It arose from the con­cept of light-air per­spec­tive, which can be seen in real life — if you look deep into the dis­tance, objects there appear lighter and slight­ly bluer than those that are clos­er. There­fore, the back­ground can be safe­ly light­ened by high­light­ing with flash­es. If you want a per­fect­ly white back­ground with no shad­ows, study high key light­ing schemes. This tip applies more to plein air pho­tog­ra­phy.

The for­est and moun­tain in the back­ground are notice­ably lighter than the strip of trees in the fore­ground / Pho­to: unsplash.com

If the sub­ject is light, go the oppo­site way and dark­en the back­ground! For exam­ple, close the cur­tains in the room, and in the pho­to stu­dio ask for black flags — large bar­ri­ers that cut off excess light. This will keep the con­trast and depth in the frame.

  • Remove every­thing from the back­ground.

The most detailed plan is the mid­dle one. It is he who should con­tain the basic infor­ma­tion and enter­tain the view­er. So that instead of the mod­el, the view­er does not study the wires or the shape of the soft­box, rid the back­ground of visu­al debris. Every­thing that can be moved away — move, hide, cov­er, or change the angle.

The less detail in the back­ground, the more the per­son looks at what you want to show him. Think cloth­ing cat­a­logs, they try to achieve the per­fect sol­id col­or back­ground so that the cus­tomer can focus on the fea­tures of the prod­uct.

  • Blur the back­ground.

If the back­ground is blurred, it will not be dis­tract­ing, and it will also delight the eye of the view­er with bokeh and pic­turesque col­ored spots behind the mod­el. To do this, open the aper­ture as wide as pos­si­ble. For exam­ple, a good blurred back­ground can be obtained at aper­tures of f/2.8 and small­er. But keep in mind that the more the aper­ture is open, the few­er objects you will have in sharp­ness.

The back­ground is blurred with an open aper­ture. In addi­tion, there is a fore­ground that pro­vides blur­ry spots in front of the mod­el, as well as con­trast — dark on a light back­ground / Pho­to: Eliza­ve­ta Chechevit­sa, Fotosklad.Expert

Diversity in photography — conclusions

  • Diver­si­ty makes pho­tog­ra­phy more volu­mi­nous, com­plex and inter­est­ing for the view­er, so the search for plans is one of the tasks of the pho­tog­ra­ph­er, which is desir­able, but not nec­es­sary.
  • The fore­ground is all kinds of frames and objects that stand in front of the lens and the mod­el. Leaves, branch­es, hands, door and win­dow open­ings. It is desir­able but not required.
  • Medi­um shot is the main sub­ject in the frame. Not a sin­gle pho­to­graph is pos­si­ble with­out it, unless, of course, you want to repeat Male­vich’s square. To draw atten­tion to it, place the mod­el on a con­trast­ing back­ground, high­light it with bright col­or, pose, light.
  • The back­ground is the back­ground. It can be either mono­chro­mat­ic if you are shoot­ing in a stu­dio, or filled with objects if the pho­to ses­sion takes place in the open air. Its task is to give an under­stand­ing of where the action is tak­ing place, and not to draw atten­tion to itself. Try to remove every­thing super­flu­ous from the back­ground so that the view­er con­cen­trates on the mid­dle ground.

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