There is a big difference between someone that likes to take family or wedding portraits and a professional that takes family or wedding portraits.  The difference is their attention to what is in the background of an image…  or more importantly what is not in the background…

What do I mean by this?

Have a look at the two photos below.

In the first photo you can clearly see the entire image, from the foreground to the background, with no isolation between any of the subjects within the image.

While you can guess that the main subject is the gentleman sitting on the chair in midground, the other parts of the image are distracting, and do not give the viewer any direction.

Background visable

The background is part of the image, making the subject hard to determine.

Now if we look at the image below, you can clearly see a different approach.  While you can see what the subjects are in the background, they do not take away from the man in the chair, nor does the person in bottom right of the frame.

It removes all the distractions from the image and points the viewers eye to exactly what I want them to see, which in this case is this gentleman watching his family at an equestrian event that I was covering.

Background removed

The subject is isolated from the background using a shallow depth of field so they are the main focus of the image.

You have to admit the difference is striking.  The ability to set your focus at a high paced event like a wedding or festival is critical to nailing that shot, and it is something you can learn, with know-how, the right equipment and lots of practice.