Your job as an artist is to make your viewers feel how you feel about something. You have to make them see what you really want them to see – your subject. Make them see the subject!
Here are few ways to do this.
Use your lighting well. Make sure the subject is well lit. You can play with the focus as well. I, personally, am into portrait photography. I love seeing people’s faces. I go crazy when I see kids making faces. I have never seen a smiling face that’s not beautiful and I want people to see that too, with my photographs.
In the picture above, I see a smiling kid with his big beautiful brown eyes staring at me. And those dimples!! (There’s also a cabinet behind him – which you don’t notice because it highlighted the kid – the subject, and blurred out the rest.)
Imagine a kid playing in the park. There are lots of other kids too, and there were trees and other things. When you press the shutter button, you’ve just taken a picture of everything- the kid (as the subject), the other kids, the cat, the swing, the trees. When someone looks at the photograph, he would tell “oh I used to go to that playground when I was small,” or “is that our neighbor’s kid?” or “look at that little guy over there, he’s so cute with a red nose.” And you would be like, “No, look at that kid over there, look at that smile.”
Gone through the same scenario? I bet that’s frustrating, huh! To solve this, you can do a simple trick- play with the aperture. Focus on the subject, make him distinct and blur everything else so that when someone looks at the picture, he will automatically see what you want him to see- the subject.
Those were just few tricks, I am sure there’s a lot more out there.
What I am trying to say is, there is that particular part of a photo that strikes you and lets you forget the other parts exist.
In summary, I only have 2 tips to make your subject stand out which you can do while shooting (and post processing). These are:
1. Focus on your subject – get a good light and use narrow depth of field,
2. Declutter the background.
In post processing, decluttering is a little bit tricky but once you get to master the tools, it’ll just be easy breezy.
When I started editing, one of the first and biggest frustrations I had was removing clutters in the background. Yes, it was f***ing crazy. When I shoot a self portrait, I try my best to clear unnecessary things in the background. When you’ve done the best way you can to focus on the subject and there are still clutters left, you can take care of it in photoshop.
Photoshop tools to declutter:
1. Patch tool
2. Clone stamp tool
3. Copy, paste and layer masking – yup! You read it correctly
4. Brush tool
5. and a lot of other tools (let me know in the comments what you use).
For this post, we’ll be talking about the clone stamp tool.
This is the clone stamp tool. It is used for removing small or large areas from your photo… like the picture below. The before picture, I see a beach, but I also see other things at the right bottom, which are…mmmm sand, footprints (lots of it), slippers, sticks. These are the distractions that needed to be taken cared of in post processing.
How To Use It
Let me show you first a screen recording of the editing.
When you open a file in photoshop, it is automatically set as the background. On top of it, create a new layer. When the clone stamp tool is selected, press the ALT/OPTION of the keyboard and left click to sample. The sample should match the part where you want to be removed. You can adjust your brush size, hardness/softness, feather, opacity. It is like you copy a part, and paste it on top of a part of the photo to cover it.
Viola!! Easy as that. I hope you get something from this. The best way to understand the clone stamp tool is to practice it, so go ahead and have some fun.
Disclaimer: I explain things based on my own understanding of how they work. Informations that I provide are not guaranteed to be accurate.