Good photography has more to do with background than it does with subject content. But yet many of us give the environment that we put our subjects in the least amount of consideration. This is most evident in portrait photography.
If you enjoy taking portraits of family and friends take the time to put a little research in possible locations where you live. Two pieces of equipment are needed, a pencil and paper notebook (I have about ten years worth of 3”x6” pocket planners that are killer for this.). Keep these in your car at all times and take note of that old brick wall covered by vines; that crumbling wood water tower on the edge of the orchard; that cool dark and seedy ally behind the hair stylist.
Treat your subject with respect and like your family and don’t give too much direction a bit of a light heart goes a long way.
No trespassing! Ask for permission first, you would be amazed at how kind and helpful people can be once they know you want to take photograph. Understand your rights about shooting on public property which means parks, exterior of city libraries, etc.
Take the time to note the direction of your background and where the light may fall. When is the best time to make your photograph? Keep checking back with the seasons. That ok path near the creek in the summer may not have luster until autumn.
It’s more important to carry a small camera than to get bogged down by equipment that sits in the home closet. I carry a small Panasonic DCM-TZ3 because of its Leica lens and 10x optical zoom.
Remember that photography is about passion and not your equipment or technical skill. It is also not about being visually lucky…it’s about making your own luck by being prepared!