Professional photographer Federico Alegria shares his favorite ways of isolating a subject from a busy background.
Some of these tips require practice and patience, but the end results are worth every minute you’ve spent chasing those images. Start experimenting with these techniques today and you’ll soon notice a huge improvement in your photos.
Take Advantage Of Focusing Techniques
This is very straightforward. Use a shallow depth of field to isolate subjects in busy contexts. This is the simplest technique to establish the importance of the main subject against a background.
Remember to use this technique when doing portraits in the streets, and your isolated subjects will bloom in front of your eyes in the most organic way possible.
Look For Interactions Between People
Crowds in the streets can be presented as a metaphor of endless rivers streaming through the streets. Social interactions between two or more subjects are really noticeable in the middle of such busy scenes.
Look for them, and you can get perfectly isolated subjects standing in the middle of the crowds. The juxtaposition of two people sharing thoughts in an endless river of people minding their own business can make for a very compelling image.
Use Negative Space
This is the compositional technique that blends large spaces of low visual impact, with small proportion elements or subjects that contrast in relation to the negative space. The negative space can be dull and flat – it doesn’t matter because its purpose in the image is to be a negative space.
This can be a very appealing way of doing things, because if we (as humans) don’t perceive a balance or an equally balanced interaction between space and activity, the image will feel very claustrophobic (which of course can work to our advantage if a concept requires this eerie feeling).
Overexpose Your Image
Let’s remember high-key exposure techniques, just to make a point. The main element tends to be more obvious, thanks its presence inside a white space. The isolation here is tremendously obvious. We are just establishing a foreground here.
You’ll achieve well-exposed subjects in scenes that are way more exposed than your subject. Therefore, this is an excellent technique for isolating subjects in the streets.
Source: Light Stalking