Foreground, Middleground, and Background are the three areas of concern in a frame when it comes to photography, especially landscape photography. Understanding these three elements will help you to compose your shots in a better way. In this article, I will explain the foreground, middleground, and background sections of a photograph in detail. It is also applicable to other artworks like paintings.

What is Foreground?

Foreground, Background, and Middleground

The Foreground is the section of the image which lies closer to the viewer’s or photographer’s eye. It is generally located in the bottom of the frame (not always).

What is Background?

The Background is generally the top section of an image in the case of Landscape photography (but not always). When it comes to portrait photography, the Background is usually the out of focus area behind the subject/person in the frame. 

What is Middleground?

Middleground comes into the picture in the case of landscape photography. For portrait images, only the foreground and background are the essential sections.

Middleground is the area lying between the foreground and the background. As the name suggests, it lies in the center of the frame.

EXAMPLES – Foreground, Middleground, Background

Foreground, Middleground, and Background in an Image

Foreground, Middleground, and Background in an Image

I will start with a typical example, comprising all the three elements- Foreground, Middleground, Background. This is an image of an ancient ruined temple, which I clicked from Hampi, India.

The beautiful green patch of grass becomes the foreground area. The ruined temple, which is the main subject is the middleground section. The sky on the top forms the background of this picture.


Elephant from Corbett

I will share one more example which has these three elements in the frame. I have captured this image of the Tusker from Corbett national park in Uttarakhand. The blurred patch of leaves in the front of the Elephant and the top constitutes the Foreground section.

The Elephant in focus is the middleground section and the blurred forest backdrop is the background. A shallow depth of field is used to draw the viewer’s attention towards the Elephant.

Foreground and Background only Image 

Fire-tailed Myzornis

In this image of the Fire-tailed Myzornis bird, only foreground and background sections are there.

Here, the bird perched on the branch forms the foreground section, and the blurred leaves in the back are the background section. So, there is no middleground section in this image.

Foreground only Image

Foreground Only Image

I photographed this image of ancient carvings inside a ruined structure from Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu.

In this architectural photo, there is only a foreground. The other two sections are not there. So, not all these three sections need to be present in an image. It will vary according to the nature of the scene.


So. now you have a clear understanding of the ingredients of a typical frame. Next time, when you are doing photography, try to understand it from the field too. Believe me, it will help you to frame your images in a better way.