2.3 Depth: Foreground, mid-Ground, Background

Back when my photography was almost entirely landscapes, I was always conscious of trying to compose in a way which provided the viewer with a sense of depth and scale by using layers. More recently I’ve been much less concerned with them, looking instead for that elusive ‘decisive moment’. Where there are layers lending depth, it’s by chance rather than planning.

This exercise has therefore served as a useful reminder rather than learning something new – still valuable but perhaps less interesting. For my image, I used a recent shot taken in a fish and chip shop in Wroxham, Norfolk. For those that know Wroxham, it’s one of the few places not owned by ‘Roy’s’!

My central subject is in the foreground, whereas more normally I’d be planning to put them in the middle ground. There’s something I like about the way she’s holding her food, that fancy handbag and big diamond ring that suggests she may be a bit more ‘refined’ than her surroundings.


In the mid-ground the composition switches from vertical to horizontal. It helps set the scene as a fish and chip shop, and the expanse of plain stainless steel contrasts nicely with the clutter of charity boxes.


In the background we have the menu board, where the chalk used to write it up is almost the same shade of yellow found in the foreground. It holds the eye of the viewer trying to read what’s on offer. The remainder of the background is quite plain in comparison, and I like the way the straight lines echo those in the mid-ground. Our subject is pretty much the only curve in the scene. Finally in the background there’s the fryer himself.


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