Setting The Background

Using backgrounds to complement your nature photographs

This Article Features Photo Zoom


Minimalism has been a trend in nature photography that has spread from the point of capture all the way to the fine-art print, often resulting in photos with the “less is more” technique. When we print our images, all too often we succumb to the typical practice of mounting our prints with a white matte border to draw more attention to our photographs. This is the conventional way of offsetting an image to accentuate prints, and the way in which a majority of photographers use to show their prints. But if you want to try something new, adding a border or background besides the typical white matte can result in an abstract print that draws even more attention and complements your photo. Using a simple monotone color as a border created in Photoshop, or even a frame from a plug-in program or stock art wrapped around the edges, you can create a new look for your photos that may surprise you.

Software like onOne Software’s PhotoFrame 4 Pro plug-in for Photoshop allows you to add hundreds of different borders and frames to your images. Other effects from PhotoFrame 4 Pro include backgrounds, textures and brushstrokes that can be easily integrated into your images.

If you’re looking to add more color and artistic backgrounds to your prints, there are royalty-free CDs from ZozArt— a collection of artwork on seven CDs from artist Dan Larsen. Each ZozArt CD contains 50 high-resolution images that are reminiscent of Jackson Pollock’s work and can be used as backgrounds for your photos or as design elements. The designs vary per disc and include Streaks and Lines, Flowing Blobs, Drips, Waves, Small Bubbles and Large Bubbles, offering both vibrant and muted colors that look great behind your best prints.


To use the ZozArt images as a border, there are a few easy techniques to implement in Photoshop, but the most important step is to size your image and border correctly. The first method is to resize each image so that the border is bigger than your image. Then drag and drop your image into the border, click on Edit > Merge to lock down the layer, and save it. Another technique is to composite an image by clicking on File > New to create a new empty layer (which you also have to resize), drag and drop each image into it, reposition the images, click Edit > Merge and save it.

By adding a border or a background by creating one in Photoshop, incorporating royalty-free stock art or using software, you can create a distinctive look for your images. Try stepping out of the bounds of what everyone else is doing and experiment to distinguish your photos from the rest—and adding a border, frame or background is a great start.

The onOne Software PhotoFrame 4 Pro plug-in is available for $259. The ZozArt Digital Background Images can be purchased individually for $49 (each CD is available for $399 or the full seven-disc set for $1,999).

Contact: onOne Software, (888) 968-1468,; ZozArt, (206) 427-3421,


    The zozart images are really worth taking a look at right now. They apparently are running a special through the early spring where individual high res images are only $19.99 (regularly $49). The discs are also 10% off with some additional perks as well. Check out the ‘promotions’ section of their site. I really like the results these have given me on the framing of some of my work. In addition, digitally composing my photography with this organic looking art has resulted in some very interesting images. Definitely a unique look!

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