One of my favorite things in a killer portrait is a separation between the subject and the background that draws your eyes right where they should be. Creating a difference between your subject and the rest of the image is what makes them really pop and take center stage. This might mean that the subject is bright and the background is dark (or vice versa), or there is a difference in contrast, color, focus, or anything else. Aside from the killer mood that it brings, this is actually one of the major reasons that I love shooting in fog! With your subject close to the camera and the fog in between them and the background, everything in the frame except for them becomes muted and faded, giving your subject all of the pop. Win!
Contax 645 + 80 + Kodak Portra 400
Shooting in fog is my dream (well, one of them at least). Muted tones, soft light, and that gorgeous separation that makes your subject pop out of the frame. Not bad for some wet air.
5D III + 35L
Separation is exactly why your eyes tend to be drawn to little pops of color (or anything they're drawn to for that matter). In this shot, the warm tones in their outfits create a separation from the muted cool tones in the landscape which draws your eyes exactly where they should be.
5D III + 35L
The separation that makes them pop comes from the simple fact that they aren't a blue sky. This is the most stripped down example I have of that separation I'm talking bout. All of the frame is "this," but they are "that."
5D III + 50L
This frame was shot while we were camping on the South coast of Iceland. With moss covered cliffs, I knew I could use it almost as a solid backdrop for them to pop out of. Even though the background seems pretty clean and simple, there was still plenty of darker stone popping through. The help them stand out more, I made sure that their body shapes were place in front of the solid green patch with no dark shapes intersection them in the background.