I can't tell you how many times I've taken a picture and uploaded it only to find something distracting in the background. Before I began this journey into photography, it didn't matter to me what was in the background, unless it showed a messy part of my house. I was just concentrating on getting the individual in the center (had not heard of the rule of thirds yet) and trying to get a good smile on their face.
The next assignment for my Exploring With A Camera class from Kat Eye View Of The World was about elimination. We were to concentrate on the background when we took our pictures.
I think the first time I really thought about the background was when I took a picture of one of my grandsons about a year ago. When I uploaded it, there was the cord to a baby monitor coming right out of his head. It was a precious picture of him and I was so disappointed.
I have a Creative Memories program that does let you clone out areas, so, thankfully I figured out how to use it and "fixed" the picture.
Now I look at backgrounds and move anything I can out of the picture. But I still have a problem!!
I forget to check the background as I'm looking through the view finder and moving around the subject. In this picutre I was concentrating on the light on the hammock. There in the background is my house, there's the pole and that ugly knot. Not a very appealing photo.
This is much better! I used the cropping feature and eliminated the distractions. Now you see the early morning sunlight on the hammock.
Even if I'm looking closely at the background, it is sometimes impossible to declutter it. In this picture, I didn't have my macro lens with me so I chose to zoom in. This was as close as I could get. It's too busy, your eyes can't find a place to look.
When I uploaded it I was able to remove a lot of the busy background by cropping. It's still a little busy and I'm not even sure I like it. I can't make up my mind.
I have saved lots of pictures from deletion by cropping out the background. I give myself a hard time about this. It's a goal of mine to take more time and concentrate before I snap the pictures. I still want my pictures to be the best straight out of the camera.