Most discussions of backgrounds are cautionary. Because, more often than not, backgrounds ruin images. Instead of strengthening our story, they become the story as the viewer's eyes are drawn away from the subject.
So what can we do to improve our backgrounds? The best approach is to consider backgrounds as we compose our images. Often, we can avoid distracting elements by shifting our position or angle slightly. We can also minimize distraction by managing our depth-of-field. Sometimes, it's best to simply wait until the subject moves to a better location.
While backgrounds can ruin images, great images use background elements to strengthen the story. When used properly, background elements create depth and juxtaposition. They complement the subject and strengthen our story. In my recent macro photography, I have realized how important it is to choose backgrounds carefully. And to choose backgrounds that strengthen my compositions. Here is one example.