10 Tips for Amazing Outdoor Portrait Photography

A studio is usually considered the most ideal place to take portrait photographs. However, outdoor portrait photography can lead you to feel a sense of dynamism. It can be spontaneous and produce unexpectedly unique photos. The outdoors offers a blank canvas and natural elements that bring completely new colors to your palette. Although you might not be able to fully control the environment, you will get a new experience of catching scenes with different lighting and colors outdoor. Here are our 10 tips for amazing outdoor portrait photography! 

Focus on the eyes

A girl looking into the camera, Photo by Christopher Camp, 10 Tips for Amazing Outdoor Portrait Photography
Photo by Christopher Camp

As we say the eyes are the windows to the soul, they also should be the main point of any good portrait. Also, they are the most detailed element on the face. Therefore, you should focus on the eyes when you shoot with a wide aperture. Moreover, the shallow depth of field effect will soften the skin as well. 

Avoid direct sunlight

A middle-aged woman outdoor portrait, Photo by Edward Cisneros, 10 Tips for Amazing Outdoor Portrait Photography
Photo by Edward Cisneros

Amateur photographers might think a sunny day would be most suitable for photography. But the exact opposite is true. Direct sunlight creates hard directional shadows and unpredictable white balance conditions. Also, it makes your model squint. A cloudy day is better and cleaner for portrait photography with more natural, diffused lighting. 

Wait for Golden Hour

A boy in the woods, photo by Warren Wong, 10 Tips for Amazing Outdoor Portrait Photography
Photo by Warren Wong

Golden hour simply means the hour in which the sun starts dropping on the horizon before it entirely sets. Simply, it is right before nighttime. As the sun goes lower, the light diffuses through the atmosphere and casts a delicate orange light over the world. This will be the perfect time when you can capture a magical portrait. 

Use a natural reflector

Male portrait on a white wall, photo by Ian Dooley, 10 Tips for Amazing Outdoor Portrait Photography
Photo by Ian Dooley

You might think there are no reflectors outdoor. However, you can actually use plenty of natural and artificial ones you can use to improve your shoots. Here are the examples: white building walls, white cars, white signs and white sand. If you are heading to a place where you can’t find any reflectors, make sure you bring one such as cardboard. 

Tell a story

Female portrait on the sunflower field, photo by Blake Cheek, 10 Tips for Amazing Outdoor Portrait Photography
Photo by Blake Cheek

To get more inspiring results, you need to have a clear idea of the purpose of your photoshoot. The pictures should tell us a story. Think deeply about what you want to tell through the photos to your viewers. Having a story behind the scene makes the viewers more attracted to your project. 

Avoid any distractions

Female portrait with blurry background, Photo by Stefan Stefancik, 10 Tips for Amazing Outdoor Portrait Photography
Photo by Stefan Stefancik

A good portrait keeps the viewers focusing specifically on your portrait subject. It might be challenging to avoid distractions such as powerlines, signs, garbage, or even trees when you take photos outdoor. So, before you take a single shot, clean up the place or move your model into a position where such distractions are not visible. 

Don’t select all focus points

Smiling woman portrait, photo by Michael Dam, 10 Tips for Amazing Outdoor Portrait Photography
Photo by Micael Dam

To take beautiful portraits, make sure you nail manual focus! Using either the Auto AF mode or using a large number of focus points will never work for good portrait photography. You’ll end up with blurry, out-of-focus shots. So, pick a single focus point and use it to lock focus on your subject’s eyes. 

Take as many photos as you can

Male portrait on the white building, Photo by Ha Nguyen, 10 Tips for Amazing Outdoor Portrait Photography
Photo by Ha Nguyen

More photos mean more choices. This is one of the most useful tips to get outstanding outdoor portraits. Take duplicates for every shot, so later you have more photos to choose from. You never know when some unexpected element suddenly can interrupt your angle and ruin the shot. Make sure to shoot more than you need! 

Shoot outside the box 

Female portrait with flowers and butterflies ,Photo by Calvin Lupiya, 10 Tips for Amazing Outdoor Portrait Photography
Photo by Calvin Lupiya

Now that you move your shooting stage from a studio to an outside, take advantage of the benefit of outdoor photography – spontaneity! Don’t be afraid to go beyond the classical portrait look. Try various locations, angles and poses for your subject. You will discover where lighting works better on your photoshoot. 

Wardrobe& Make up are important

female portrait in the forest, Photo by Liliia Beda, 10 Tips for Amazing Outdoor Portrait Photography
Photo by Liliia Beda

Make sure to choose a suitable wardrobe and makeup for your shoot. The story for photos that you have created will give you an idea for the right selection. The dress and makeup of your subject should complement the shooting environment and show the narrative of your photographs. Think about hair and makeup as well to complete the overall look.

For more inspiration, check out our 10 Innovative Ideas for Your Portrait Photography.

We are Klaud9, an on-demand photography and videography platform. Using our wide network of talented and experienced photographers, we can help you create your desired photos. Click here to find out more about our portrait photography service. 

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