Below are 10 pro tips that will help you prepare your shoot. And teach you to take amazing natural light portraits using daylight as the primary source.
1. What’s the Best Time of Day for Outdoor Portraits
Outdoor portrait photography means at a specific time in order to avoid harsh shadows on the model’s face.
“Golden hour” is the 2-3 hour gap right after sunrise or right before sunset. To get the best light, try going 2-3 hours before sunset or 1-2 hours after sunrise.
The sun at these times is pretty low and doesn’t cause contrasting shadows. It does provide you with great outdoor portrait lighting.
A gloomy cloudy day produces soft light for outdoor portraits with a natural, rounded look. This light is a little bit harder to manage. If your day turned out to be cloudy, pictures would get a very specific, silverish ambience.
You have to be careful in this kind of setting as a lot of detail can get lost. Especially if you chose the wrong angle or position the camera straight against the sky.
One of the key elements of a successful photo shoot with people – is creating the mood. A photographer should act as an emotional balancer on set.
Many people, especially non-professional models, often get tense in front of the camera. This shows on the photographs.
It is the photographer’s duty to make their model comfortable and at ease. If the person is your friend or if you know each other well, it is rather easy.
But if you have never seen each other before or only met once, tension could be an issue. This might not be the time for the most intense close-up portraits. Especially at the start of the session.
There are different techniques to help you get through. You can offer your model to go to a cafe or take a walk before the shoot, for example.
Use this extra time to get to know them better. This helps to build trust and helps the model to relax on set.
Jokes are a very strong catalyst, but do not force them. Wait till both of you get comfortable with each other and then go shoot. After all, no matter how serious the project, it is always great to have some fun!
This is one of the secrets to outstanding outdoor photography. Take many shots. Outdoor portraits are no exception. Take one or two duplicates for every shot you take, so later you have something to choose from.
You never know when the crucial element in your balanced composition can get out of focus and ruin the shot.
Or a spark of emotion or the right angle of your model could make the shot.
Shooting more than you need is one of the best outdoor photography tips. It works even for outdoor headshots.
Finally, show your work! Post your natural light portraits online, order the prints and show them to people!
Listen to what they have to say. Constructive criticism might not always be pleasant to hear, but there is a lot you can learn from it!
If people give you amazing ideas for future shoots, write them down. Photography is often subjective and people’s tastes often differ. But you can significantly develop your aesthetic by learning from professionals.
Portrait photography, like any art, takes practice. These tips and tricks can save you time and energy. Whether you are a professional or a hobbyist.
Now grab your camera and take an adventure to your next masterpiece! Get out there and grab some awesome outdoor portraits.
For more great tips, check our article on using the Sunny 16 rule for a balanced exposure when shooting outdoor portraits during sunny days.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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