Digital Photo Tips – An Introduction to Location Portraits
This article is intended to give beginner photographers a clearer understanding of what location portrait work is and how it can be used to create beautiful images for family or professionally.
You may have heard the term ‘location’ or ‘environmental’ portraits but wondered exactly what that meant. Very simply, a location portrait is that which is taken anywhere other than in a studio setting. The location or environment that your subject is in could be an office, the home, the backyard or a construction site. A large percentage of your photographs are probably of friends or family portrait poses.
How do you decide on what a suitable location might be? Discuss with your subject what their activities of interest are. What is their personality and how can you convey that through a photograph? Can you tell us something about the real person? That is the key to a truly good portrait.
When you are on location, you can use the background and props to tell your subject’s story. That is the real benefit of taking a portrait shot on location. A popular high school senior portrait pose is wearing a letter jacket or sports uniform. What does that tell you about that person?
When you take location portraits, you do need to consider other factors that are not an issue when working in the studio. A typical background in the studio is very simple. There’s not much worry about something being a distraction under these circumstances. However when on location, now you must carefully watch what is going on in the setting. Some of these details may be helpful but others may not. Remember to try to simplify the props and background to only what is needed to tell your subject’s story.
When you are working on location, you do not have nearly as much control over your lighting as you do in the studio. Now you are probably working with available light sources like room lamps or sunlight. These require more attention to your shutter and aperture controls. You may also be taking photos while your subject is in action.
Here’s a few ideas to help with your next location portrait session.
– Keep lighting simple and be mindful of dark shadows. Use of sound photography lighting techniques will help with this potential problem.
– Consider having your subject do something with their hands. Most people don’t know what to do so it can come across as awkward. Try having them holding something relating to their personality.
– Try to look for interesting architectural settings to place your subject. Some ideas include staircases, doorways, book shelves or picture windows.
– When working outdoors, try to direct sunlight off your subject. Placement in the shade will help eliminate bright highlights or dark shadows. Don’t forget that you don’t need a fancy for a proper background. A single tree or bush can work well if used wisely.
If you have a digital camera that’s collecting dust on the shelf, don’t be afraid to put your creative juices to work. Check out the Internet for digital photography lessons and other photography courses online. You can find excellent courses for very reasonable prices. In these tutorials, you can find lots of great landscape photography tips, studio lighting techniques and much more in-depth information.