Your background is your shoots mood
Every photographer needs to know this:
You choose your location because it sets the mood of your shoot, no matter the time of day, no matter who you’re shooting, your background will matter.
That goes whether you’re in studio, or on location, the colour, the tone, the feeling and texture within that background really matters.
That doesn’t mean you need to weeks researching your location, as I’ve said before, your lens can help change that as well.
The distance your background or the amount of studio space you use will also change a lot of things, larger studios means you can have your lights further away, as well as you can shoot longer to create more mood, or you can shoot wide to create a more stark feeling.
The point is, it’s a deciding factor for every single shot, pointing and shooting is only one aspect of the work.
If your backgrounds are super cluttered, the shots will feel cluttered, if that’s the aim, great, but fitting too much into one shot can be really distracting.
For studio the easiest example if a black backdrop vs white, same model (Holly from Busy Models), similar lighting set up (power output was changed because of the different colours):
I haven’t used too many coloured backgrounds but a great example of big mood changes using colour locally is Cybele Malinowski and over the ocean you should check out Brian Jamie, both really shake things up with colour!
When it comes to stylistically diverse work but where small pallets of colour from the models are used then to set much of the mood of the background you should check out Georges Antoni playful shots, often the same shoot will have very different moods, and the styling is always superb but those subtle connections are what makes the work fit together.
Here are some swatches I’ve done using George’s work, I’ve picked four colours that have a predominant effect on the mood of the whole shot, it’s a great way to think about colour, four tones you want to stick with to create the mood of your entire shot.
Happy shooting! Get that colour!