Improve your Portraits by adding Texture and Colour to your Backgrounds

Are you tired of the same old plain backgrounds in your portrait photography? Do you want to add more depth and interest to your photos? One solution to this is to incorporate texture and color into your backgrounds to make your portraits pop. By adding these elements, you can create dynamic and visually appealing images that will draw viewers in and enhance the overall impact of your portraits.

In portrait photography, the background can play a crucial role in setting the tone and mood of the image. By adding texture and color to your backgrounds, you can elevate your portraits to the next level. Whether you’re shooting in a studio or on location, there are countless ways to incorporate these elements to enhance your photos. In this blog, we’ll explore different techniques and tips for adding texture and color to your backgrounds to improve your portrait photography.

Improve your Portraits by adding Texture and Colour to your Backgrounds

This episode is sponsored by Squarespace

Whether you need a domain, website, or online store, make your next move with Squarespace. So far in this series on editing portraits, we’ve covered natural skin retouching, accentuating the eyes of our subject, and shaping light on the face using dodge and burn. Today, I want to hit a subject that I think too many photographers forget about in finishing their portraits, and that is your subject’s background. We would all love to have a whole variety of portrait backdrops lying around that we could pull in for different portrait sessions, but let’s be honest and say that most of us have limited spaces and limited budgets. So, how do we take that background that we already have and learn how to edit it in post for different sorts of portraits and turn one backdrop into many? In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to add realistic texture to your backgrounds and also how to shift the color and hue to really complement your subject and help them pop out of the frame. In that way, you’ll be able to photograph that one backdrop that you have and then in post, you’ll be able to change it into a whole variety of backdrops that will suit the various portrait shoots that you do. Let’s jump in!

Step 1: Making a Selection of the Subject

Utilizing the Latest Versions of Photoshop

Now, let’s take a look at this image. I’ve shot this against a gray background because I knew I wanted sort of a mid-toned background, but I didn’t just want it to be gray. I wanted something that had a little bit more interest, maybe something that was slightly textured.

The first thing that I need to do is make a selection of my subject. I don’t need to make an exact selection because I’m not changing the background a lot from, say, white to black. So, I don’t need a super accurate mask for what I’m going to do. It’s very easy to do that in the latest versions of Photoshop. If I right click on this background layer, come up here to duplicate layer, and go okay… I can make a fairly good selection of the subject utilizing the Magic Wand tool.

Step 2: Adding Texture to the Background

Matching the Texture to the Light in the Image

Now that the subject is selected, it’s time to add some texture to the background. I’ve got this texture here that I pulled in. I’m going to drag this on top of my image and work out where the lights coming from to match it to the light in the image.

Adjusting the Texture with Black and White Adjustment

First, I come up here to image adjustments and make a black and white adjustment to bring in a bit more contrast so that the texture has a nice bit of depth and texture.

Blurring the Texture to Match the Lens

The next problem is that the texture doesn’t make visual sense because the front of the face is in focus, then the back of the head goes out of focus, and then the background texture is in focus again. So, we need to blur the texture of the background to match the fall off of the lens. I go to filter, down to blur, and dial in the gaussian blur until it makes visual sense.

Utilizing Blending Modes like Soft Light or Overlay

Finally, I pull the original tones from the gray background and just lay the texture over the top. To do that, I utilize blending modes like soft light or overlay.

With these steps, it’s possible to really make your subject pop out of the frame and provide a variety of background options for different portrait sessions.

FAQ about improving Portraits by adding Texture and Colour to Backgrounds

Q: Why should I add texture and colour to backgrounds in my portraits?

A: Adding texture and colour to backgrounds can enhance the overall visual appeal of the portrait and create a more dynamic and interesting composition. It can also help to convey a specific mood or theme in the portrait.

Q: How can I add texture to backgrounds in my portraits?

A: You can add texture to backgrounds by using props such as fabric, plants, or architectural elements. Additionally, you can also use post-processing techniques to overlay textures onto the background in editing software.

Q: What are some ways to add colour to backgrounds in my portraits?

A: You can add colour to backgrounds by using coloured backdrops, lighting gels, or natural elements such as flowers or graffiti. Post-processing techniques like colour grading can also be used to enhance the background colours in editing software.

Q: How do I ensure that the texture and colour of the background do not overwhelm the portrait subject?

A: It’s important to consider the balance and composition of the portrait, ensuring that the background complements the subject without overshadowing them. Experiment with different textures and colours to find the right balance that enhances the portrait.

Q: Are there any specific tips for incorporating texture and colour into outdoor portraits?

A: When shooting outdoor portraits, look for natural textures and colours in the environment, such as foliage, walls, or interesting architectural elements. Use the natural light and consider how the background will interact with the subject to create a compelling composition.

I hope you find useful my article Improve your Portraits by adding Texture and Colour to your Backgrounds, I also recommend you to read my other posts in my blog at this link.

If you need help with anything join the community or do not hesitate to contact me.

Best of luck! and follow your passion.

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