How to choose a great portrait photography location

Every portrait images session requires a nice location. After all, the placement determines the backdrop, the foreground, and different key compositional parts.

But how do you discover the right portrait images location? How do you discover foregrounds and backgrounds that each complement and improve the topic?

In this text, I share my high eight ideas for selecting a photoshoot location, whether or not you’re capturing {couples}, high-school seniors, households, and even road portraits. I additionally supply loads of location examples alongside the best way (so you recognize precisely what to go looking for).

Ready to scout out areas like a skilled? Then let’s dive proper in, beginning with my first tip:

1. Make certain the placement is significant

When choosing a portrait images location, I encourage you to start out with that means.

Sure, customary portrait pictures – with the topic towards leafy bushes or a white background – look good. But if you’ll find someplace significant, it’ll take your photos to a entire new stage.

So as you think about every potential location, ask your self: Does this location add to the story? Does it have that means to the portrait topics?

Tips for Choosing a Great Portrait Photography Location

For occasion, for those who’re doing an engagement photoshoot, you would possibly journey along with your topics to the unique proposal location. And for those who’re doing household portraits, you would possibly ask the household if there’s anyplace particular they prefer to go (equivalent to a close by park, close by lake, and even their dwelling backyard).

Most folks have a minimum of one or two areas that work, each aesthetically and emotionally. But be sure to ask your topics about potential areas in advance (you don’t need to stress them out on the day of the shoot!).

2. Look for areas of open shade

While brilliant, sunny days are at all times nice for picnics, swimming, and noontime enjoyable, they’re not so nice for portrait images.

You see, brilliant solar creates a number of disagreeable shadows, particularly across the eyes – plus, brilliant solar usually causes the themes to squint, which is a huge no-no.

If you’re fortunate, your photoshoot will fall on a day with some good cloud cowl, and also you’ll be capable to seize gentle, evenly lit portraits with out a lot effort. But clouds are by no means assured, which signifies that you at all times, at all times want a backup plan.

Specifically, search out portrait images areas that present loads of open shade.

(Open shade refers to areas which are shaded however aren’t fully closed off. A small meadow surrounded by bushes is a good instance of open shade; the meadow is roofed with shadows, however loads of mild can filter on by means of the branches.)

Open shade is good as a result of it doesn’t characteristic harsh daylight falling straight on the topic, nevertheless it gives sufficient mild to offer the eyes some sparkle. In my expertise, open shade gives good, gentle, directional mild that creates depth however isn’t filled with distinction.

Of course, in case your photoshoot does fall on a cloudy day, you possibly can ignore your shaded areas. But it’s at all times a good thought to have a few in thoughts (simply in case!).

3. Find some main traces

Tips for Choosing a Great Portrait Photography Location

Leading traces seek advice from traces that lead the viewer’s eye into the scene (and usually towards the principle topic).

And whereas main traces are particularly fashionable in panorama images, they work nice in portrait images, too; they assist create depth, they focus the viewer on the principle topic, plus they add a sense of motion, or dynamism, to the composition.

So whenever you’re scouting attainable photoshoot areas, preserve an eye fixed out for main traces. Note that traces could be something: fences and paths are fashionable, however you should utilize twisting tree branches, the traces of a cornfield, tree roots, hand railings, and a lot extra.

The picture featured firstly of this part makes use of a fence to steer the attention, whereas this subsequent picture makes use of the practice monitor edges:

Tips for Choosing a Great Portrait Photography Location

4. Look for backlit leaves

Here’s a portrait images secret:

If you need actually stunning backgrounds – the form of backgrounds which are filled with beautiful, sparkly bokeh – then it is best to look for thickets of leaves…

…and ensure that, whenever you conduct your photoshoot, the leaves are backlit.

You see, when the solar filters by means of leaves, it creates stunning pinpricks of sunshine. And when these mild pinpricks are rendered out of focus, ideally with a wider aperture of f/1.8, f/2.8, or f/4, they’ll flip into a stunning mosaic of inexperienced twinkles:

Tips for Choosing a Great Portrait Photography Location

For one of the best outcomes, I’d advocate capturing late within the day. That means, the solar will likely be low within the sky, so that you’ll be capable to {photograph} backlit leaves with no need to shoot upward. Plus, the bokeh will tackle a beautiful golden glow!

Note that the backlighting will create shadows, so think about using a reflector to bounce some additional mild into your topic’s face.

5. Search for stunning textures

This portrait location tip is easy, nevertheless it works amazingly nicely:

Find areas that supply loads of texture, equivalent to barn doorways, rocks, tree bark, or partitions with peeling paint.

Then, whenever you conduct the photoshoot, place your topic straight in entrance of the feel, then snap away!

Rough textures might help make your topic’s pores and skin pop, plus they’ll add an additional layer of curiosity to your portraits:

Tips for Choosing a Great Portrait Photography Location

And I encourage you to experiment with totally different apertures. Sometimes, you’ll need to use a broad aperture to melt the background texture – whereas different instances, you’ll need to use a slender aperture so the feel creates loads of chunk. Make sense?

6. Add in geometric shapes

Our brains like order. We need the puzzle items to suit collectively, and we would like the weather of every {photograph} to suit collectively like a accomplished jigsaw.

Therefore, for those who’re after highly effective portrait compositions, it is best to search for areas that characteristic loads of eye-catching geometry.

Personally, I prefer to look for triangles, circles, rectangles, and squares. Then I compose my photos so the shapes match collectively.

Of course, it’s possible you’ll be curious about totally different shapes – although whenever you’re simply beginning out, merely look for any and all geometry. Then do what you possibly can to include it into your pictures.

For occasion, you would possibly discover areas with fences, tall bushes, homes, reeds, practice tracks, and extra! (When you begin wanting for shapes, you’ll see them in all places.)


7. Make certain the placement has layers

The finest portrait photographs characteristic a number of depth. The viewer appears like they may step into the body and contact the person parts.

But how do you create a sense of depth, of three-dimensionality?

You use layers. Specifically, you search for areas that characteristic robust foregrounds, midgrounds, and backgrounds, then let these totally different parts draw the viewer by means of the composition.

For occasion, have a look at this subsequent picture:

Tips for Choosing a Great Portrait Photography Location

It gives loads of depth, proper? The grass acts because the foreground, the toddler acts because the midground, and the leaves act as a background – for a good mixture of three-dimensionality!

8. Find rows of bushes

When a collection of bushes are organized in a line, they usually create a gorgeous end result, one that appears particularly nice in portrait photographs:

Tips for Choosing a Great Portrait Photography Location

You see, a line of bushes gives:

  • Plenty of open shade for stunning subtle mild
  • An apparent indicator of depth
  • Plenty of leaves for gorgeous bokeh

Plus, traces of bushes usually include paths, which might create stunning main traces (see the picture above!).

And that’s why I get your hands on rows of bushes at any time when I can!

Pro tip: Try capturing with a lengthy lens from a distance; this may produce a stunning tunnel imaginative and prescient impact that usually seems beautiful. You can even experiment with broad apertures for additional background bokeh.

Portrait images areas: last phrases

Now that you simply’ve completed this text, you recognize all about selecting a portrait location – and also you’re able to seize some gorgeous portrait photographs!

So head out and begin scouting. Create a location record, which you’ll reference as wanted. And, in fact, have enjoyable!

Now over to you:

How will you select your subsequent portrait photoshoot location? Which of the following tips do you want most? Share your ideas within the feedback beneath!

8 Tips for Choosing a Great Portrait Photography Location

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