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I really learned a lot by studying the old dutch masters. They were great at doing group portraits. They staggered the heads, they used subgroups, and they used props now and again to get the message across in their paintings. It's the same with photography today. A great example of this is a wedding. The brides always have the biggest bouquet. No matter what color their dress is, you can always tell who they are, and the birthday hat clearly shows who is the birthday girl, and what soccer photograph is complete without a soccer ball? There are times that you want to have the landscape be part of the photograph, and the most important part of the photograph, and in that case it really is important to make sure that the composition is there.
Now if I want to emphasize the people in the photograph, then I will use a shallow depth of field or selective focus. This will blur out the background and bring the attention back to their faces. Now if that term is unfamiliar to you, check out my course, The Elements of Effective Photographs on lynda.com.
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