An acquaintance recently put up a photo on FB. It was a good image, until you took in the background, and gasped. In the background of the room the person stood was a totally chaotic scene – rumpled, disheveled clothes piled out of an open, aging wardrobe, already worn clothes hung on the wardrobe door, some more clothes strewn about all over the place, bits of a tired ceiling poking through, and then some more messy, messy clothes. A fertile imagination would then paint into the photo, images of rodents, cockroaches, and all sorts of things that will be associated with such an unsavoury background. That background in itself painted a troubling, unflattering impression of the person standing in the photo.
So my question is, does it matter, what background is in your photo? Asked another way; should you take your time to consider what will show in the background of your photo? Does it matter that while you stand in a photo looking glam, there’s a sign in the background saying ‘’Alagbado Public Toilet’’? Does it matter that you put up a photo of yourself about to get in your car and in the background there’s a dirty, aging, cracked water stained wall with peeling paint, and a visible filthy broken bucket, with ducks casually strolling about? Should you care that in your cute child’s birthday photo, the cake is sitting on a torn table cloth that is askew on the stool, and in the background, there is a half open sardine tin just lying there, and a bench with Agege bread(a favourite of mine) piled up in the background? What opinion should we have of you when you proudly pose for a photo, with an over-running gutter behind you? How should we judge a photo of you that has in the background, your window curtains roughly tucked into the anti-burglary bars and beyond the photo, we see lines and lines of washed laundry spread out in a yard?
Hey! I caution there are no right or wrong answers – your pedigree, background, exposure, self-esteem, standards, class, dignity, other qualities like that, will determine which way you lean really. But then, we are not doomed to not improving ourselves. Correct?
While we are at it, when you take a photo of your cute child on their birthday, it helps to ask the child to smile their best smile. I remember the photographer and my mum’s voice yelling, ‘’Say cheeesssee’’ just before a photo was snapped. I still have those lovely photos from many decades back, where I smiled many a toothless smile! It means a photo does look better when a child (or adult) is smiling in it, not to mention the pleasant memories that come to mind. Why would you want your child in their birthday photo on FB, looking like you just smacked them, or that they are scared of you or the camera?
Honestly, I believe a background that is pleasing to the eyes of your audience matters. Thankfully, a good number of people believe this unwritten rule also.
I’ve also seen photos where the adults confuse looking really angry VS unsmiling, looking spaced out VS looking sultry, looking casual VS looking unkempt, looking playful VS looking downright crazy; but I digress. This is not today’s focus. We will deal with this another time.