I say "your" background because the background in your photographs is 100% of your creation. It was not "background" until you made it so. [Note that I mean 'background' as everything that is not what one sees as the 'player(s)' in the picture; this will include stuff at any distance.] Backgrounds are integral to how a picture works. As a very simple example, look at the recent Photo of the Week, which is a stylish woman against a stone wall. The picture happens in the relationship of those two things; the stone makes the woman more woman-ish and the woman makes the stone more stony ... which then makes the woman even more woman-ish which then makes the stone even more stony, etc. Resonance. As more complicated examples, and ones that I find fascinating, see the work of Diane Arbus. For example, Teenage Couple on Hudson Street (this is a terrible, flat reproduction; it should be much more tonally rich with the white being much stronger). Aside from the effect of the angled doorline (with black interior) on the rear left and the texture/tone of the wall, look at that Kleenex (or napkin) that's nearly on center. Look at the work that that trash does to authenticate ("this is real, not contrived"), to show spontaneity, and also to add the perfect dash of spice to the picture. Or look at her famous Child with Toy Grenade -- look at the details of the background, from the blurry figure growing out of his head to the baby carriage pushing people, to the central tree, to the horizontal line in the near-fore on the sidewalk. Compare that to Avedon with his deliberately white empty, empty background. He is deliberately stopping the resonance. He's putting his hand on the bell and saying only THIS. Period. No mixing, no diminishment of the subject in service of relationships extraneous to it. It's like sticking a sample in a sterile petri dish so you can see exactly what one thing is exclusive of contamination. Or putting it under a (anti) bell-jar. On the other hand, there is really no background in Ansel Adams's landscapes (or even in much of his closer work, either). Rather than adding to the complexity of the pictures, to me, this makes for a more homogeneous effect, but I'll leave it to you to think about how his all-over even-handedness (either everything is important or nothing is ... ) affects his pictures. My interest (obsession) with backgrounds is because I'm a compositor. Compositing is about relationships (think about it; the only reason to composite is to rearrange; the "things" don't change, only their position does). Backgrounds, the buzz between all the stuff in a picture is where relationships happen. [Those who are allergic to theory/philosophy, do not read the following! Relationships are external to the terms and can be carried to the extreme where the terms disappear and the relationship persists. Relationships are also (some believe) constitutive, i.e. the arrow runs, not from terms to relationship, but from relationship, this "thing between" back to the terms (the relationship *makes* the terms).] Here I should ask some pointed question about your own experience with backgrounds, but I have noticed (ahem ... ) that such questions are pretty much ignored, so make up your own. I would, in any event, be really interested in how much attention you pay to background when making photos. I'd also like to know how the heck really good photographers manage to have octopus eyes that can sense, on the fly, when all those bits of flotsam and jetsam are so perfectly arranged. I do it painfully slowly (crawling around for hours picking out bits of stuff from the dirt when gathering bird-backgrounds).