Pro Tip: How to Add Character to Your Location Portraits

These quick and easy tips should help make your location portraits more unique, fun, and interesting.

So, you’ve found a nice location that gives you some interesting backdrops for your next portrait shoot. But it’s only one part of the picture. In this quick tutorial for Adorama, Gavin Hoey provides some tips and ideas on how to use props, wardrobe and styling, lighting, and a little bit of post-processing to add character to location portraits.

Shooting on location is one of the surefire ways to make a portrait eye-catching. But if it’s a pretty popular spot among photographers, you’ll most likely need to add a little something to make the shots truly yours and stand out from the rest. Hoey shares a number of ways to do this in the quick video below.

Choosing a great location is already one way of adding character to your portraits, but there are more ways. As Hoey suggested, you may want to play around with your model’s styling, dressing them in a style that either fits the mood of the place or looks totally different from the vibe of your location. The contrast in the second option, as demonstrated in the shoot, is one of the ways to bring extra attention to your portraits.

Next is the lighting. You can either work with the ambient light if there’s enough to both illuminate your subject and create some nice dark and light areas in your photo for a dramatic look. Or, you can bring a flash just to be sure, which also provides greater control over how your subject will be lit. Another great way to add character to your location shoot is to use props. Make sure to bring a variety of stuff to play around with. This tip is also great if you’re shooting something more conceptual and playful; props help tell a story, add an element of interest, and bring action into your portraits.

Lastly, post-processing will always play a part in your final results, as it involves your color grading choices and fine-tuning what you’ve already shot. Depending on what you have, you may also need to do some extra work to correct certain elements in the shot that you don’t like.

If you want more tips from expert photographers like Gavin Hoey, make sure to check out and subscribe to the Adorama YouTube channel for more photography tips and tricks.


Screenshot image from the video by Adorama