The depth of your scene can be divided into layers, starting with the foreground and ending with the extreme background. There may or may not be intervening layers, but many scenes do have them. For example, imagine a woman (foreground), house (middle ground), and hillside (background), all three related by some common theme such as a storm..
There may or may not be something of interest in each layer. When there is, those "layers" may fit together cooperatively. More often than not, they don't. In fact, they may compete for the viewers attention. Worse, the layers may merge obscuring the intended subject.. It just depends.
In a simple two-layer scene, the subject can either be helped or hindered by the "other" non-subject layer. Consider these examples:
In the first instance, the foreground object makes the composition. In the second, the background breaks the composition.
In most situations, you want a simple background so that it does not detract from the subject. Isolate the subject and avoid mergers by:
However, if you need a challenge, try experimenting with multi-layer compositions.
"The wide-angle is the most versatile and challenging lens in your repertoire. It allows you to create a much richer, deeper composition, accentuating, dramatizing and cinemascoping your image. You can fit several stories within one frame, one in the foreground, another in the rear. You get more animation and depth, creating a dimensionality that lifts your picture out of the flat-earth society."