Things to Consider With Outdoor Portrait Photography

Things to Consider With Outdoor Portrait Photography

There are numerous categories within the art of photography, and the outdoor portrait photography can be one of the most fascinating. Those who are very good at reading details and injecting emotion into an image work well in this space.

This is a process that brings obscure details in front of every eye. However, getting a good shot is a bit challenging here. 

This photography is tricky because you have to consider a number of factors before shooting. Choosing a great location and taking care of changes in light intensity becomes very important.

Below are some great tips that you should keep in your mind before you go for outdoor portrait photography.

Choose the perfect time

As we have already talked about it, light plays a very important role here. You should be very much cautious about the lighting situation before you go for outdoor portrait photography. Weather and timing have a lot of effects on the light outdoors. There are some specific time points every day when you get the best light available.

This time may vary a little bit in different weather however mostly you get the perfectly soft light early in the morning or in the evening before sunset. The golden shade in the light during these times outlines the subject very beautifully. 

A great photo is not only a photo however it has a story. Shooting an outdoor photo in the morning or evening gives you enough of a chance to portray a story. If you are desiring the most pleasing photo, choosing the best time point is really essential. 

If you are shooting at some other time, you should bring a thin sheet of cloth and suspend it perfectly above the subject. This is a very effective and efficient technique to control excessive light. 

Don’t shoot in direct sunlight

There are several problems associated with shooting in direct sunlight. Unpleasant, intense shadows are created in and the white balance becomes totally imperfect.

You can very easily miss all the essential details that you want in the portrait due to the uncontrolled light. As a result of the intense sunlight, several unflattering elements, and strong contrast is created in the portrait. 

If you want smoothness in your photos, you should shoot photos in shades. You can go for natural shades or even shades can be created artificially. You can do it very easily under a tree where the sunlight is manipulated to create the best effects. 

You can get crispy photos when there are clouds in the sky. Such timing is like no other when it comes to outdoor portrait photography. 

Outdoor portrait photography of a mature man

Use proper lenses

You should never underestimate the use of lenses suitable for the purpose. The situation of light and other factors vary based on the place and other factors. You should always use the lenses based on those factors. 

Lenses with fixed focal lengths are preferred the most for outdoor portrait photography. Fixed focal length lenses are the best in providing great framing, and depth. 50 mm lens is the most popular option in this category however there are better options as well.

If you use 70mm or higher lenses, you will get the best results. You will get the best compression effects using these lenses. It will enable you to produce the best bokeh effect. 

The blurring effect also has different types. Portraits having soft bokeh are desired the most. Such effects can be produced using a lens with a low f-stop ability. Lenses with an f-stop around f/1.2 – f/2.2 are the ideal ones for this purpose. 

Using a lens with a wide aperture is helpful. You should also shoot at a place where a great amount of light will enter the lens. 

Shoot in raw

I have often found this advice to be missing from the list of tips. The advantages of shooting in RAW format are tremendous. A raw form photo is the one where the data from your sensors is not modified in any way. However using other formats like JPEG can never provide you enough opportunity for editing the image.

Of course, you can’t make many modifications if the raw image is not up to the mark. When you shoot portrait photography in formats like JPEG, the image processor loses every data that makes a shell representation. 

The focus should always be on the eyes of the subject

Telling a story is very important through a photo. Talking of the stories, eyes are the best things to tell a story. Eyes are often considered the most appealing part of the human face. So, they should always be the subject in focus in outdoor portrait photography. 


Outdoor portrait photography of a woman

Don’t underestimate the use of flash

If you think that flash is needed to shoot in a dark lighting situation like night or so, you are wrong. Whenever you are shooting outdoors, unwanted shadows may be created. Flash plays a very important role in filling up the slightly dark shadows in the picture. 

Make sure that you are not using the pop-up flash that comes with your camera. You should go for an external flash as they produce more light. 

When your subject and background are exposed properly, they will get the most benefits from the use of flash.

Never use autofocus

Many photographers don’t want to do it manually. When you are using autofocus, the camera selects the focal points by themselves. Normally, the cameras select the closest item to the lens as the point of focus.

In some advanced cameras, many focal points are picked and their average distance is calculated. Based on this average distance, the focus will be made at one point. 

Anyway, you will not get much control over your photos if the autofocus is ON. For creating the best photos, you need to decide the point of focus very precisely. 

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Final thoughts

We have put together various tips and you need to incorporate all these factors before you go for outdoor portrait photography.

About the Author

Andrew Conway is an amateur photographer and keen writer. Andrew is in his last year of his Journalism degree in University.