Some of the best pictures I think I’ve ever taken are of people in their own environment. Whether it’s an athlete in their element, a musician performing for the crowd, a trainer in the gym, or even a newborn that’s only a couple of days old snuggling up in some blankets. These types of images are powerful.
These types of images aren’t terribly hard to create. Click on through to learn a couple of my tips and tricks on creating these fascinating images.
Natural light can be a beautiful thing when taking environment portraits, but I think an off-camera flash can really make these images amazing. A strobe can accentuate features that you wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. If you can master artificial light, you photography will improve significantly.
When I first started out, finding a subject was one of the most difficult aspects of this. My problem was that I was overthinking it, and you may be overthinking it, too. I found that my own network of people was the best solution to finding a subject. Update your Facebook status with an idea for a shoot that you need people for, and you’ll be surprised with who responds.
If I’m not going for more of a model-like look to the image, I won’t do much posing. The main reason for this is that if you’re shooting someone who may not be comfortable in front of a camera, barking at them to turn their head slightly to the right, not that far, a little more my way, no not like that, will intimidate them, make them feel more self-conscious and will kill the mood of the image.
I think this has to be the number one aspect you should focus on when shooting these types of images. Help your subject to feel comfortable enough in front of the camera, so that they forget it’s there. That’s when the magic happens.
A prop or two could add an element to an image that will take it from great to amazing. Whether you add in a bag for a boxer or textbooks for a student, you’ll create an image that will fully capture the environment of your subject. It’s a good deal of fun, too.
Environmental portraiture is a great way to learn photography. You’ll be: dealing with off-camera lighting, learning to work with “models”, and improving your composition skills. Taking these images can be a great ego boost as well because you can make beautiful pictures without too much work and planning. It’s a good investment of time and effort because having these images in your portfolio will show potential customers the breadth of your photographic skills. These types of images can also help you break into the commercial photography arena.
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