How To Choose The Best Outdoor Portrait Locations
October 11, 2013
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When you're handy with a camera, friends and family who want portraits seem to magically appear. Before setting a time for an outdoor portrait session, scout out the perfect location for photographing them. Take these five factors into consideration when looking for the best spot.
Find out the exact number people you'll be photographing. This may sound simple, but it's not uncommon for even a small family to ask friends to join in the fun, and eventually they'll want to get into a few frames. That cute little bench at the park may accommodate a couple, but not a group of 10.
When making plans, write down the number of people and names of everyone involved and any special accommodations needed such as a hard surface for a wheelchair or a seating option for an elderly family member. On the day of the shoot, you want to focus on making great photos, not on whether your great-grandmother can negotiate the rocky path to your chosen location.
Time of Day
Fabulous outdoor portraits depend on flattering lighting. For a warm glow, schedule the shoot an hour before sunset. For bright, even light, go for late morning.
Also consider how the light affects the scenery at your outdoor location. Sunlight dancing across a lake in the early morning evokes serenity, but direct glare from that same water at noon will cause squinting and overexposure.
Safety for Everyone
Unleash your creativity when photographing people, but keep it safe too. It might look nice to arrange a large family on a boat dock, but not so nice if you overload it and people end up in the water!
Stick to sturdy surfaces with unique structures in the background (meaning not too close), such as a vintage barn or a rusty 1930s truck. After all, you don't want to expose your friends and family to rusty nails or sharp metal car parts just for the sake of your art.
The Best Environment
When scheduling an outdoor portrait session, get a feel for the subjects' personalities. Rural people may prefer natural settings; urban folks may want the city skyline for a background. A high school baseball player might look best posed in his team's dugout. Simply ask your subjects what they like.
Once you've found the ideal place to create the portraits, follow the rules. Ask these questions:
- Is it a public or private location?
- Is the property owner OK with using the area for pictures?
- Is there a fee to rent the space?
- What hours is the location open?
- When will the space be the least crowded?
- Are there public restrooms available?
- Is there a place for a clothing change?
To make future portrait sessions a breeze, keep a list of your favorite outdoor portrait locations as a quick reference. Include helpful notes including fees, driving directions to the spot and contact information.
When you head outside to take pictures, what do you take into consideration? Please let us know in the comments below.
Photo credit: Stock.xchng