“To move your photography forward, start at the back!” This advice from Steve Kozak will help you improve your images and impress your clients.

Selecting the right background for your outdoor and locations sessions can be something of a challenge. This assignment is designed to help you discover what makes a great background and how to use the background to create images with impact.

While it may take you a few days to complete this project, learning the process of finding new and interesting places to photograph will benefit your images throughout your time behind the camera.

Describe what it is that makes the background work in each of the 6 images.


This is a rather simple assignment to do, but you should take the time to really observe what you see in your viewfinder as you go through the process.

You should also really study the results of your images. I encourage you to print them out and lay them side by side to get the most out of your evaluation.


We are going to begin by setting up a series of “test images”.

  • Select a large background area such as a large area of greenery or a background with an architectural interest
  • Position your subject about 10 feet from the background and instruct them not to move
  • Position yourself about 10 feet away from your subject and do not move
  • Create a series of images without you or your subject moving using 28mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm, 150mm and 200mm
  • Repeat the entire series with your subject 20 feet away from the background and with you 10 feet from the subject


Describe what you found:

How did the lens choice impact depth of field with the subject 10 feet from the background?

How about at 20 feet?

How did the lens choice impact the relationship of the subject to the background at 10 feet?

How about at 20 feet?

How did the lens choice impact what you saw in the background or what you did not see in the background?

If you or your subject had been allowed to move left or right(keeping the same 10 feet and 20 distances), could you have found better areas in your background to use with your subject?

What are your overall impressions of the results?