Backgrounds: a Place to Start

A background is so easy to ignore, and yet it’s the room in which your pictures live. Here are a few ideas for decorating your photos’ room…

COLOR ASSOCIATION: We often associate pastels with weddings and babies, contrasting color with birthdays, muted color with memorials, greens and browns with nature, and warm colors with summer. None of these associations forms a rule, however. One of the more attractive wedding shows I’ve seen used red as the accent color, but the color wasn’t chosen randomly. The wedding’s theme was white and red.

USING COLOR WITH B&W: The common background choice is either black or white, but other colors can enhance monochrome photos. Those colors are deep ones such as forest green or maroon. A trick: Imagine whether or not you’d wear a specific color with light-gray slacks, and then reject those you wouldn’t. (Don’t use this method if you insist on wearing tan shirts with gray slacks.)

COLOR MATCHING: Pick a predominant color in the show’s photographs, perhaps darkening or lightening it.

TEXTURE: White satin for weddings, sand for a seashore vacations, old linen or paper for heritage shows, and crepe paper or bubbles for a birthday party…these are what come immediately to mind, but there are so many textures to choose from. Just make sure the texture doesn’t leap off the screen, making the photos run screaming for their lives.

LAYERS: It’s perfectly kosher to have multi-colored backgrounds, though it’s probably best to keep contrast low so the background doesn’t fight with the photos for attention. For instance, if you’re showing pictures from a hike in the mountains, fill the screen with deep brown, placing a large rectangle of mossy green on top. The green rectangle can form a mat for the photos. Don’t forget that things need not be centered and that they often look better when they’re not. Offset the rectangle, offset the photos, or better yet, offset both.

PATTERN: Anything you can scan into the computer such as wallpaper or gift wrap is fodder for the background mill, but keep in mind that the background’s job is to make your pictures look good. If there’s a pattern you really like and that suits the theme of the show, consider using the pattern as a border instead of filling the screen with it. Your pictures will thank you.

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Published in: on April 20, 2010 at 4:13 pm  Comments Off on Backgrounds: a Place to Start  
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