The Ultimate Guide to A Great Outdoor Portrait Photography Session

In this new age of social media, quality photography is becoming more and more popular. The art of photography is not a simple skill to pick up either, it takes lots of practice and patience.

Arguably, some of the most difficult photography is an outdoor portrait session. Let alone internal knowledge of taking a good picture, external variables such as lighting, weather, and comfort of the model all play a role.

if you can master the art of outdoor portrait photography, then a whole window of opportunity will be open to you. As a professional or just a hobbyist, understanding the technique and dynamics of outdoor portraits is an essential skill to any photographer.

For your benefit, we’ve created a guide that will help you pull off a stunning outdoor shoot. It’s a win not only for your clients but for your own personal growth in the field.

Sunlight and Weather

Natural light can be a blessing and a curse. It can create a beautifully lit picture that flows naturally and highlights the model if used well.

The hardest part about shooting outdoors is controlling the sunlight. The best time to shoot would be on a bright overcast day, where the subject can be lit with natural light but not with harsh shadows and uneven brightness.

If it’s a beautiful sunny day, try to step into a shady spot and use a reflector to diffuse the light onto the subject. Or wait for a single cloud to move over to the sun as a natural diffuser.

The best thing to do is to use the weather as an inspiration and work with it. Fighting against the sun and the weather will never work in your favor, but working with it can produce some great photos.

Depth of Field

A depth of field means simply that there is a very out of focus background to contrast an clear focused subject.

Having a depth of field in your photo can create very striking portraits because it draws the attention to the subject matter and away from anything else that might distract.

Creating a depth of field involves playing around with your aperture. Using a wide aperture like f2.8 or f4 can create a wonderful depth of field in your portrait.

Check the Environment

When you’re shooting a portrait, it can be easy to focus solely on the subject and not the background. This can create distractions in the photo, like unwanted signs or powerlines that take away from the portrait you want to focus on.

When you are shooting outside its always a good idea to take in the environment and look for any unwanted objects that might disrupt the photograph.

Focus on What is Engaging

The human face is such an interesting subject to shoot that it’s not hard to produce a creative image. If you want to make it more striking, choose the most interesting part of their face, like their eyes, to be the center of focus in the portrait.

The eyes are a sharp feature of the face and are know as windows to the soul for a reason. In natural light especially, the eyes will really pop. This will draw the audience to that area of their face and create an even more unique photo.

Help the Subject Feel Natural

Most people don’t feel super confident in front of a camera, and it can be very uncomfortable for your model to be in the spotlight.

If you want a real genuine looking photo, it’s important for you to create an easy and comfortable environment where you subject can feel relaxed and natural.

Engage in conversation about something they are interested in, tell jokes, and be silly. Taking the focus away from how they look will help them to look more authentic in the photo itself.

Watch Out for The White Balance

Depending on Auto White balance on your camera can leave you with hundreds of photos from one shoot that all have different colors. This can be a nightmare during the editing process and create a lot of extra work.

Carrying a neutral gray card for your subject to hold up is a good way to adjust the white balance so that each has the same balance.

Use Shoot in Raw

Almost every photographer can agree to this, shooting in RAW will help you in the long run.

When you shoot in RAW instead of JPEG, the image quality in which you can edit the photos is going to be a lot less complicated and will save you a lot of time. Shooting in JPEG can force your to lose more data than shooting in RAW, thus the image quality will be lower.

Have Fun With It

Relax and have fun! Photography is a creative art and should be treated as so. Enjoy it! When you are just enjoying the process, you are more likely to have photos that you love at the end of a session.

Your subject will most likely feed off of your energy. If you’re having fun, then they will too, and you will get some really great pictures.

Outdoor Portrait Photography

Outdoor portrait photography can be tricky, especially with all of the external variables in play. Working with the environment will always take skill but these simple tips can hopefully allow you to take the photo session of your dreams.

If you want to learn more about photography and tips on how to shoot, visit our blog.