These Environmental Portraits Put the Emphasis on Artist Studios

In this portrait project by Danny Santos II, we get to see how looking beyond our own creative fields can give us inspiration for photography projects.

At its core, the goal of portrait photography is to tell us something about the subject, their personality, their passions, and even a sense of mystery in their gaze. A portrait project of Singapore-based Danny Santos II gives us all of those and a little extra: we also get a glimpse of the creative spaces where his artist subjects make their masterpieces. We’ve reminded our fellow photographers not so long ago about the importance of having other hobbies and exploring other interests outside of photography; this series could give you an idea about which one to pick up!

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4 Low Cost Lenses That Will Help You Create Gorgeous Environmental Portraits

You don’t have to spend a fortune on gear to be able to take gorgeous environmental portraits.

Environmental portraits differ from regular portraits in one key way. While regular portraits aim to capture just the person, environmental portraits aim to capture and tell a story about the person in the image.  You can capture environmental portraits that tell a story about the persons job, or about their hobbies and likes. The possibilities are endless. Due to the story telling nature of environmental portraits a wider angle lens is needed so that you can capture the surroundings of the person in the image too. For environmental portraits you need a good 35mm or wider lens, but it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. After the break we’ll take a look at four relatively low cost lenses that will help you create gorgeous environmental portraits.

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Environmental Portraits of NYC Street Musicians by Dimitri Mais

If you were to define some of the things that helps to make NYC what it is, on that list would be the musicians. These troubadours often provide entertainment for many a crowd–who often stop to listen, contribute a donation, and share the moment with followers on social media. Back in the winter of 2016, Dimitri Mais did a special project showcasing some of these musicians in their natural environment. Some of them take refuge in the subways while others simply set up shop on the streets.

Dimitri’s portraits are candid and encompass who these musicians are by using black and white combine with effective natural lighting. The lighting combined with specific use of tones highlights the subject and shows us exactly where to look in the scenes.


Do these images seem easy to take? Well, yes. Sure. But while they seem easy, sometimes it isn’t simple to actually capture the musicians in this exact state. It requires having a bit of money to donate or just finding the exact right moment, lighting, etc. It’s less of a photojournalism project and more of a documentary portraiture project.








All images by Dimitri Mais. Used with permission.

Patrick Temme’s Inspiring Environmental Portraits Of People In Tigray, Ethiopia

Images by Patrick Temme. Used with permission. 

Great environmental portrait photography usually shows people in a situation they live in (or sometimes at work and play), that says something about who they are. Patrick Temme’s environmental portrait approach in his documentation work beautifully captured the grace and charisma of the people he encountered in Tigray, Ethiopia in Africa.

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Shooting Environmental Portraits at the Roskilde Festival

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All images by Christoffer Rosenfeldt and Kevin Goss-Ross. Used with permission.

Photographers Christoffer Rosenfeldt and Kevin Goss-Ross teamed up recently at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark.They were commissioned to create portraits of the people there–but these aren’t your typical festival portraits. The duo collaborated to create photos that tell a story and also help to illustrate who the people are. While doing this, they created some technical masterpieces.

And according to Kevin, it helps if you’re just a bit drunk.

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Jonathan Bielaski on Shooting Environmental Portraits


All images by Jonathan Bielaski. Used with permission

Environmental portraits are a very involved type of portraiture that is a very slow and methodical process requiring interviews and understanding of who the person is. In the end, it requires the photographer to deliver a product that tells something specific about who the subject is.

Jonathan Bielaski has been doing this for years, and knew that he wanted to be a photographer from a very young age. He is based in Toronto, Canada and some of his clients include, Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and TFC), Sports Illustrated, Billboard Magazine, T+D Magazine, Bard Valley Dates, California Peach and Pear Growers, Home Depot, Lucas Oil, Hydro One, Ontario Pork, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, University of Waterloo, Sheridan, Laurier and the list goes on.

With a portfolio like that, we talked to him about the involving process of showing personality in a portrait.

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Useful Photography Tip # 21: How to Shoot Environmental Portraits

Environmental portraits are a lot like any portrait, with an added layer of difficulty – you want the background to tell a story about the person. Often in a portrait shoot, you light the shot or use a shallow depth of field to isolate the subject from the background. However, in the environmental portrait, you want the background to be as much apart of the shot as the subject. The background tells you who the subject is.

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Taking Environmental Portraits



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.

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These Tips Will Help You Master Shooting Wide-angle Portraits at 24mm

Did you know that you can shoot portraits using wide-angle lenses? Let us show you how to master portrait photography using the 24mm focal length.

Once upon a time, it would have been inconceivable to photograph portraits using something as wide as a 24mm lens. You may as well have bought a one-way express ticket to Distortion City. Thanks to advancements in modern optics design, however, that is a thing of the past. Portrait photography with 24mm wide-angle lenses is totally feasible nowadays. As long as you understand how best to utilize the focal length, it can lead to some truly creative possibilities. In our latest original infographic, we will be going over some important guidelines to keep in mind when creating portraits using 24mm wide-angle lenses.

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Portrait Photography: How to Shoot Stunning Portraits with 35mm Primes

Do-it-all 35mm primes are as great for portraits as they are for anything else when you know how to make the most of them.

We have waxed lyrical about 35mm primes for years here at The Phoblographer, but just know that it’s for good reasons. These seemingly simple lenses can do so much that we truly believe everyone should own one, and while you might think they might not be great for portrait photography, we have to tell you you would be wrong. 35mm primes are fantastic for portraits. After the break, we will talk you through how you can create gorgeous environmental portraits and more with your humble 35mm primes.

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135mm Lenses Are Perfect for Portraits and Here’s Why

In our latest infographic, we get down to brass tacks about why 135mm lenses are the perfect option when it comes to portrait photography.

When it comes to shooting portraits, many photographers tend to gravitate towards lenses with longer focal lengths. This is thanks to their ability to produce flattering images of their subjects. While 50mm and 85mm lenses are also popular choices amongst portrait shooters, it’s possible to produce even better results by opting for a longer focal length. We’re talking about 135mm lenses in this case. Thanks to the way lenses work, 135mm lenses have just the right amount of compression that ensures subjects of all body shapes will appear flattering and distortion-free. It’s also great for close up and full body shots as well. You’ll need plenty of room when shooting with a 135mm lens, of course, but that’s the only downside. Check out our infographic where we break down the key benefits of shooting portraits using a 135mm lens.

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Why the 24mm Lens Is Great for Creative Self Portraits

Just because you’re used to shooting landscapes and architecture with your 24mm lens doesn’t mean you can’t use it for shooting at home!

So, you’re stuck at home and you have limited options when it comes to taking photos. If you’re thinking about joining the myriad of photographers who decided to do self portraits in the meantime, you might want to pay special attention to your 24mm lens. We’ve been recommending the 24mm lens for portrait photography, so we see no reason why you can’t whip it out for creative self portraits as well!

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Under $1,000: 6 Cameras for Self Portraits, Vlogging and So Much More

Self portraits are all the rage right now, and with the right camera, they are easier than ever to make.

Quarantine and social distancing have put us in a position that we have little experience with, but not being able to go outside has not stopped us as creators. If you look at any photo-sharing app or even YouTube, you’re going to see self portraits and tutorials on how to take compelling self-portraits, but neither of those talk about the gear that will make taking self-portraits that much easier. After the break, we share some cameras that feature great flippy screens that will make creating your self-portraits much easier.

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Photography Cheat Sheet: Comparing 20mm, 105mm, 200mm for Portraits

Today’s photography cheat sheet looks at three focal lengths that you may not have used for portraiture.

When it comes to portrait photography, a lot of us typically start shooting with 50mm or 85mm lenses, as they are the most used and recommended focal lengths. However, some of us eventually think about experimenting with different lenses and see what they can do to improve our results. This is where today’s featured photography cheat sheet would come handy, especially for those who are wondering what wide-angle, short telephoto, and telephoto lenses can do for portrait work.

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These Sony E Mount Lenses Will Make Your Portraits Come to Life

If you want to get the most out of your Sony cameras when it comes to portrait photography, you need to take a closer look at these killer E mount lenses.

There are good reasons why portrait photographers decide to join team Sony. Sony’s cameras, from their APS-C cameras to their Full Frame offerings, are capable of producing gorgeous images. Then, when you throw in unmatched autofocus performance, including the best eye and face tracking performance in the business, it’s easy to understand why so many photographers choose them. Portrait photographers who shoot with Sony cameras also have some incredible E mount lenses to choose from too. In this roundup, we will share the first lenses worth a closer look if you want to create some killer portraits.

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Canon Has Three Lenses That Can Really Take Next Level Portraits

These three remarkable Canon lenses will feel right at home in the kits of portrait photographers shooting with Canon cameras.

One of Canon’s biggest strengths has always been their ability to design and produce excellent lenses. The optical qualities of Canon glass are legendary, renowned for their ability to produce images with excellent sharpness, render accurate colors, and deliver gorgeous, creamy bokeh. Canon lenses are robustly constructed as well. It’s not uncommon to see Canon shooters using lenses that are older than their camera bodies. Canon built these lenses to last and this is a testament to their build quality. This was true with their EF Mount DSLR lenses, and the tradition continues with their latest RF Mount Mirrorless glass as well.

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The Sony Lenses That Made Our Jaws Drop When Shooting Portraits

Portrait photographers shooting with Sony Full Frame Mirrorless cameras will want to add these lenses to their shopping list.

When Sony first entered the Full Frame Mirrorless market, one of their biggest pain points was their then-lackluster lens lineup when compared to industry veterans like Canon and Nikon. Fast forward to today, and Sony now has 30 lenses available for their Full Frame E-Mount cameras, while Canon and Nikon are playing catch up with their mirrorless lens offerings. The tables have turned indeed. For portrait photographers shooting with Sony Full Frame Mirrorless cameras, there’s never been a better time to invest in some new glass. While Sony’s top tier G Master series of lenses have a proven track record of delivering excellent image quality with accurate colors and beautifully creamy bokeh, their more entry-level lenses are no slouch either.

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Comparison: Sigma’s Lenses for Studio Portraits (Here’s What We Found)

We already know that Sigma’s lenses are fantastic, but which one is best for portraiture?

Portrait photographers these days enjoy using a multitude of focal lengths, and Sigma’s lenses offer a whole lot for the portraiture photographer. The company has spent years revamping their lineup with their Art series lenses and these lenses often top the charts on many proper lab tests. But we know that photographers don’t use lenses to shoot charts or brick walls and so we took them into a studio with models and lights to figure out which ones we liked the most. Our opinions may surely vary from yours and any professional working photographer will always lean towards a telephoto focal length. While this test has a lot of implications for professional photographers, it will also apply to lots of us who shoot and don’t demand the most professional needs.

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Creating Stunning Portraits Using Beautiful Golden Hour Light

While you don’t need the golden hour to get the best portraits, it surely does help.

For the uninitiated, Golden Hour describes the short, fleeting period of time just after the sun had risen or immediately before it is about to set. During this momentary window, the sun appears very close to the horizon and produces a quality of available light that tends to be beautifully diffused and typically embodies a warmer tone than usual. Portrait photographers, particularly those that rely heavily on natural light, often prefer to photograph their subjects during these ephemeral minutes because of the beautiful quality the light imparts onto their subjects. We have a wealth of tutorials here on The Phoblographer that cover topics such as portrait subject posing as well as how to best interact with your subjects to bring out the expressions you’re looking for, but for the purposes of this particular tutorial, we are going to focus specifically on the challenges that you will likely come across when photographing portraits during Golden Hour and what you can do to combat them.
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Andy Goodwin Takes Arresting Portraits of Truckers

Andy Goodwin helps put a face to one group of unsung heroes of the road.

As part of his work, award-winning commercial photographer Andy Goodwin often trains his lenses on people working different jobs, from corporate employees to the individuals that make up the working class. One of the groups he has featured a few times now are ruckers, and his portraits of them provide a fascinating look at the men and women who spend long, lonely hours on the road, moving things.

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5 of Our Favorite Lenses for the Environmental Portrait Photographer

Environmental portraits not only capture a person’s likeness, they show that person’s very essence, and to capture that you need a great lens.

Unlike regular portraits, environmental portraits capture not only who the person is, but also what that person is about. From a person’s job, to their hobbies, a good environmental portrait will tell a short story about the person in the image. Seeing as environmental portraits could put a photographer in very challenging situations in regards to weather and available light, having lenses that are built to withstand the elements, and lenses that can shoot in low light as an absolute necessity. In this article we will take a look at the five best lenses perfect for environmental portraits across a variety of platforms.

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