Outdoor Portraits present portrait photographers a variety of challenges and opportunities. With my very first digital SLR there was a sigh of relief, everything was going to be so much easier now and I didn’t have to think anymore.
You know the scenario; you pull the camera out, charge the batteries, go for a walk around the house and down the street taking the same pictures you have taken every time a new camera came into your life.
When you pick the autofocus option that allows the camera to select focus points, you are doing your portraits a terrible disservice. There are quite a few reasons to invest in a fast lens capable of wide aperture values; the most common is for shallow depth of field.
A thousand times these words have bellowed from my mouth, and it will surely come out a million more. Direct sunlight is harsh, makes your subject squint, and creates hard directional shadows and unpredictable white balance conditions. Always try to control the direction, use some kind of reflector, and try to mimic a studio light. We have already discussed keeping your camera focused on the eyes; keep your mind focused on the image as a whole. Last, and most important, have a great time shooting, enjoy what you’re doing and it will show in your work, and the expression of your subject. Pollution changes the color of the light from minute to minute even if your eyes don’t see it, your camera does.
Don’t forget to white balance with that custom, tricked out, six dollar piece of cardboard, your Kodak gray card.
Become a Contributor: Check out Write for DPS page for details about how YOU can share your photography tips with the DPS community. White balance (*especially in cloudy scenario) is the only aspect of this article I didn’t quite get. I've been shooting portraits with my 70-200 but I think I need to get the 50mm involved more after reading the things written here. The higher the ISO number the "faster" the sensor responds to light so the less light it needs But it will also will be more grainy because it isn't using every bit of the surface of the sensor as effectively as a lower ISO. The higher the number of the shutter speed the faster the shutter opens and closes and the less amount of light it lets in. Adding an additional external light source is necessary when you can't balance the perfect lighting equation without it . Also rather than never shoot in bright sunlight, it can make a pleasing high- key photo as long as the main subject of the portrait is exposed right.
Once you’re comfortable with using your camera and are happy with the results you have been getting, evaluate.
Most new photographers start out charging too little; once the joy of starting a new business wears off, many photographers find themselves unable to stay financially afloat and resent owning a photography business, ultimately closing their doors in less than a year.
Now that your legal ducks are in a row and you know how much to charge, it’s time to start getting clients! Of course, you’ll need business cards and marketing materials to advertise your business. If only it were that easy … I have a marketing degree, and minored in communication, plus I have a photography degree and let me tell you in theory this sounds good, in practice it take years and years of work, skills and practice to become a competent photographer. Forgot to mention, Only shoot in the evening and try to get as much backlit sun-flare as possible. We are always looking for more interesting and insightful photography tips and techniques to share with our readers. Today James Pickett from America the Lost suggests 13 tips to help you with your outdoor portrait work. To this day, there is no trick I have found that replaces the need for proper exposure, white balance, and sharp focus. This feature of a camera is usually designed to pick whatever is closest to the lens and focus there.
Not only are the eyes the most important part of a good portrait, but they are the sharpest element on the face and should be left that way. When shooting in the shade, there are no more harsh shadows, only smooth milky shadows created by your subject’s natural features. A good heavy blanket of cloud cover can help you enrich your colors, and make some very smooth and pleasing shadows. Putting the sun directly behind your subject isn’t a good idea, unless you are trying to make a silhouette. These big white delivery trucks can make amazing fill light reflectors as long as they weren’t painted with an off white. So you have a baseline for proper exposure in your mind to work with if no other tools are present.
Power lines, signs, long single blades of grass, single pieces of garbage, sometimes even trees can be serious distractions from the overall focus of the image… The person you are photographing.
They create a giant blanket of natural sunlight diffusion to make your images rich and powerful.
On a cloudy day, pollution particles are being carried around in the sky by little tiny prisms; water droplets. Five of them are all 2.8 aperture and I have the Nifty Fifty which I need to start using more.
It's great having people who post informative and knowledgeable lessons learned for all of us to shoot by. LOL, seriously your explanation just now is the culmination of months of me trying to "get it" in how the relationship works between ISO, shutterspeed and Fstop! You must increase you lighting by decreasing your shutter speed or increasing your ISO to balance the lighting.
Higher shutter speeds allow you to "stop" action while slower speed may need a tripod to keep them from becoming blurry due to hand shake.


If you are using a 250mm lens you should not hand hold the camera with a slower shutter speed than 250 because of hand shake blur.
But it does help to master and know the "rules" first, then you can break them with confidence. Thank you James for giving a simple outline with useful detail of specific tips for improving outdoor photography.
As my instructor pointed out, "Look at the feet, did you mean for them to be twice as big as the head?" Oops.
I finally read mine 2 years after I got the camera because my teacher needed me to sync it to strobe and I didn't think it could. I like the rim light effect it gives but I use a fill flash or white board (sometimes both) to reflect the light back onto my subject so they aren't a silhouette.
However, with these tips you’ll be on your way to starting a successful portrait photography business!
Gather your family and closest friends and offer free mock-portrait sessions in order to provide you practice on how to use your camera and allow you to become more familiar with shooting in manual mode.
Start off right and remain successful by creating a firm price list for your services that keeps your business profitable and brings yourself value. Conduct a quick online search to find a company to print business cards and flyers for your business. Owning a photography business can be a very fulfilling venture if it’s started correctly, and these steps will allow you to be well on your way to success! This article was written by someone who knows next to nothing about photography and even less about business. When you are shooting with a wide aperture value focused on the eyes, the lens’s bokeh will aid in softening the skin as well.
When the sun is at my back, I have the subject look off camera (away from the sun) and get very nice results. The clouds can fool your mind in ways you can’t imagine, much like your mind corrects for the natural white balance throughout the day. First, the time of day, as most people understand white balance and how it changes throughout the day.
Now your sunlight is passing through nature’s prism and reflecting off of pollution particles in infinite directions.
I bought lots of things; flashes, lenses 2 bodies, backdrop and many other photo related things.
A 60mm lens can be hand held at a shutter speed of 60 or above and should still have a sharp image.) I don't typically use a shutter speed below 45 without a tripod no matter the lens size because I just can't hold that sill. The very center of the lens is the most focused part of the lens when the lens is wide open (wide open means the f-stop is the lowest "f" number) then the edges of the lens are not going to be in as sharp of focus as the center (lenses are curved --- think about how glasses work). The last problem I am having trouble getting over is when I DON"T want a shallow depth of field.
Also, #9, harsh light or not, shooting directly up someone's nose is rarely flattering for portraits.
I agree with everything you said, especially for beginners that need a good foundation to build on. Not only can it but there is a whole lot of things it can do that I never knew and it is only a Pentax K10D. ISO 100 is not very sensitive to light because it has more "pixels" that need more time to react to light which also make it have a finer grain (less pixilated and smoother look). I also try to avoid shooting directly into the sun because I've heard it is not good for the sensor. Aperture is the size of the opening in the back end of your lens: lower fstop number = bigger opening. I’ve found online search engines and photography forums to be the best places to learn how to use your camera in manual mode. If so, it’s time to start taking legal steps before you officially start a business and begin charging for your work. Once your business is legal, protect yourself by purchasing business liability and equipment insurance. There are several websites that offer insight on how to purchase your domain and start a website, so turn to your trusty search engine for help. Hand these out to family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and anyone you come into contact with!
Most people will do that anyway (and end up here, wondering what the point of this post is). Telling someone they need to buy a camera to start a photography business is up there with telling people how to get out of bed in the morning. In-camera metering systems have become much more advanced, but the sensors still lack the seven ƒ-stop exposure latitude that negative film has. When you shoot in JPG format, everything but what the image processor needs to make a shell representation of the image you intended to capture is stripped away. When opening Adobe Camera Raw or any other RAW image editing application there is always a way to select a custom white balance. Another great trick is to wait for a cloud to move in front of the sun, this usually creates a very bright yet contrasted look. They are usually more than happy to part with these scraps, and if not, chances are there are pieces by the dumpster. You know that cheap old sheet you stuck in the corner of a closet to use as a drop cloth the next time you paint? Second, you have to account for all of the wonderful things that light has to pass through before it hits your subject. I've gotten by on some basic understanding and mad photoshop skills, lol, but I know if I can just have better control over my camera I could be unstoppable because of my love and passion for the art. If you use a f-stop that is higher, like f16 then you are blocking off the edges of the lens because you have closed down the aperture (opening) of the lens.


I also think your advice is great for non-beginners that skipped the rules, jumping in with instinctive talent, and are ready to learn the rules so they can break them with control and depend less on happy accidents. Additionally, many professional photographers write photography tips and FAQ blog posts, so do an online search and visit the blogs and websites of local portrait photographers to get an inside scoop on how to use your camera. This covers you if your client trips and falls during the portrait shoot and lands in the hospital (potential lawsuit!) or if your precious new lens crashes to the ground during a lens change.
Give your family and friends an abundance of cards so they can pass them on to their friends, as well. Usually it is an eyedropper of some kind that you can use to click on what you think is neutral gray in your image. Your quick post has changed things for me and I'm so thankful for your willingness to share your knowledge with us!
This means that the image the sensor sees is limited to the center of the lens and the more focused area of the lens. Having harsh sun directly in the subject's eyes (sun behind you) is rarely ever a good idea. My senor is the second so I multiply my lens length (50mm) times sensor (1.5) which mean my 50mm lens makes an image that looks like it was shot with a 75mm lens.
From the point of focus, twice as much will be in focus behind as what is in front of the point of focus. Shutter speed is how long the shutter opens to let light hit your camera's sensor and make an image (sensor = film in the old days). You wouldn’t want to start a business just to go bankrupt, thus, this optional step is highly recommended to be successful! Photography website and blog templates are available and are a wise investment to be seen as a professional to your prospective clients.
Imagine a world where your photo shoot involved 4 locations and a total of 800 images, and all day the camera was set to Auto White Balance. If you own either an incident light meter, or gray card use either for the most accurate exposure instead. Never again will you look at an image after and wonder why the sky is blown out when it was so cloudy, or why the clouds look great but your subject is dark. It is not cropping your image it is only limiting the part of the lens you use to see the image.
You just need a flash fill when you have the sun as a back light or split light, which looks better IMO.
When you process the image either through the camera's raw processor or the raw window when opening it into Photo Shop you can adjust the exposure, contrast, brightness, blacks, fill, recovery, clarity, vibrancy and saturation prior to compression so your adjustments are going to be better. ISO 800 is much more sensitive to light because it uses less "pixels" that need to react to light but it is more grainy. Conduct online research by reading consumer reviews from multiple blogs and websites, search professional photography forums, and ask professional photographers for their advice. Website templates will save you time and money if you’re unfamiliar with coding and web development. Because you are closing down the aperture, which increases focus but makes the hole smaller, you need to get more light to the sensor either by keeping the shutter open longer (which means slowing down the shutter speed) or increasing the ISO number (the sensor's sensitivity to light).
Applied to a face, If you have a shallow depth of field and focus on the eyes then the nose to the ears should be in focus unless the depth of field is too narrow. It is good for low light caused by environmental lighting or fast shutter speeds to stop action. Think about the last time your white balance was set incorrectly, and you tried for hours to remove the color cast only to destroy the image with every attempt. If, at each location, you have your subject hold the gray card on the first shot, you will save hours of work. Too many newbies already shoot everything wide open, and it does not work for every situation.
RAW would have saved you by allowing you to fix the color before opening the image for retouching.
When you open location one (200 images) in your favorite post production application, all you have to do is click the eye dropper on the gray card, select all and synchronize the rest.
Some clients might complain that they don't see the details of the portrait location that you all traveled to.
Yes it is more time consuming to process but I only work with the best shots anyways and I want them to be their best so I use RAW.
What's the point of a location portrait if you can't tell what the background is in any of the pictures? I do shoot jpg on occasion and RAW +JPG when I have enough memory on my memory card and I'm in a hurry but I accept the difference. The better the camera the higher the ISO you can go before the image gets disturbingly grainy. It also doesn't work so well with pairs and groups when you need more than one face to be sharp.
Wedding photographers typically have to deal with harsh afternoon light since we rarely have the luxury of shooting the bulk of portraits at more optimal times of day.
Shade is your rule, then developing your favorite techniques out in harsh sun are also important. You think small children have patience to wait for the perfect overcast lighting conditions or that they will be "on" when you are lucky enough to have the perfect cloud passing? For weddings, we're restricted to a limited window of time on the overall wedding day schedule for portraits, so if you're primarily shooting weddings, coming up with your best practices to work with less than optimal lighting situations during portraits, and throughout the day for that matter, will be paramount for doing good work consistently.



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