Setting the Scene

So many elements play a part in creating a great photograph.  Regardless of the subject, whether it be a wedding couple, a car or a piece of jewelry, the overall composition must always be taken into account.  One often-overlooked consideration in the importance of how the scene is set.  In this post, I’ll be taking a look at a photograph of soap from Etsy seller dennisanderson and talking about how successful he was at setting the scene for this shot.  So let’s take a look:

If you’re like me, the first thought that comes to mind is something like … gee, that’s a really pleasant-looking photo.  It makes me want to linger and take a closer look.  Don’t you agree?  But what makes it so?

In short, all the elements belong, and they all get along quite nicely.  The product for sale in this photo is a natural orange and sandalwood olive oil soap bar.  To me, that just sounds mellow and muted and peaceful.  Now take a closer look at what else is used in the scene.  Only three other elements show up: (1) an earth-tone plate with a design that looks suspiciously like olive branches, (2) a bamboo mat (if that’s not natural, I don’t know what is!) and (3) a very nondescript, out-of focus wall in the background.

Now what else do you see?  Sharp transitions and harsh lines?  No.  Bright, primary colors?  No.  Blinding white backgrounds?  No.  A pair of dirty socks or a cat in the background?  Of course not, but if you think I’m being facetious, just spend some time looking at random Etsy shop photos and you’ll find quite an assortment of surprises!

There are also some nice lighting and depth of field techniques used in this shot, but that discussion is for another time.  Thanks to Dennis for letting me use his photo, and thanks to all of you for stopping by.

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6 thoughts on “Setting the Scene

  1. It’s true what you said about the background being important. I once saw a listing with an old woman sitting in a recliner in the background! I have no idea what the listing was for, but I’ll never forget seeing Granny!

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