AmSnaps - Digital Photography Basics For Amateur Snappers

Discover The Best Outdoor Portrait Photography Tips, Poses, Equipment And Techniques To Create Stunning Portraits

Outdoor portrait photography uses most of the same techniques that you use when shooting any sort of portrait picture. Are your shots just not turning out the way you'd like them too? Are you embarassed to show your pictures to your friends or family?

Don't hide your photos any longer! With the help of some videos from '' and a few tips on how professional photographers get the results they show off in magazines, your outdoor portrait photography is going to shine.

Outdoor Portrait Photography Video 1 From

Episode 25, Outdoor Portraits #1 from Jim Talkington on Vimeo.

There are a few main areas that need to be considered when shooting photos outdoors. Lighting and background, the equipment and the composition.

The best time of the day to shoot photos outside is in the morning or late afternoon, when the sun is lower in the sky. You get a lovely warm light without the harshness.

Taking pictures on a cloudy, but bright day is also good. The clouds diffuse the sunlight and give you light that is evenly spread. If you have to shot on a sunny afternoon, try finding a nice shaded area.

Outdoor Portrait Photography Video 2 From

Episode 26, Outdoor Portraits #2 from Jim Talkington on Vimeo.

Shooting under a large tree works well, but be careful of greenish tones from the leaves appearing on your subject. You can correct this later if it happens, by shooting in RAW and editing afterwards.

There may be times when the light isn't quite even on your subject and you have to use a reflector. If you don't have a reflector, you could try positioning your subject near a reflective object. A white van or wall works well. If you do have a reflector, even better. Get a friend to hold it in position while you take the shot.

The background of your picture should not be allowed to be a distraction. Remember that the subject is the most important part of the shot.

If you leave a good depth of field between your subject and the background, you can blur the background in your shot. This allows you to make use of the colors and textures of the background without it distracting your viewers from the subject.

The best focal length for shooting a single subject portrait is around 100mm. This stops your subject's features, such as the nose or ears, being distorted.

I find the best camera setting to use is aperture priority mode. If you are working in a more controlled environment then go fully manual. It's personal choice.

Outdoor Portrait Photography Video 3 From

Episode 27, Outdoor Portraits #3 from Jim Talkington on Vimeo.

Don't forget to set your white balance and ISO according to the conditions of the day. Usually outdoors in good conditions, I would use ISO 100 and either customise the white balance with a grey card or use the cloudy or daylight setting.

Shoot your pictures in the widest aperture that you lense will allow. The bigger the aperture, the more shallow the depth of field and the more blurred the background. Less distraction.

When shooting your portrait, always use RAW and select a single focus point in your camera's settings. The best place to focus on in a single subject portrait shot is your subject's eyes. Make sure they are pin sharp. A tripod is a must to get the best results.

The last area we need to look at is how your subject poses. Good attention to detail is required here. It's useful to have a friend or colleague there to help you make adjustments in the subject's pose while you look through the camera's viewfinder.

Always shoot from your subject's level. If you are shooting a person, then place the camera at eye level. If you are shooting children or pets, then get down to their level for best results.

Make your subject fill the frame. Move in closer to your subject and use the 'rule of thirds'. If you're taking a head and shoulders shot, then get your subject to angle their body at 45 degrees to the camera.

If you want some good portrait photography ideas and tips, then checkout some magazines or online galleries to get some inspiration for your next outdoor portrait photography session.

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David Coote
Wedding Photographer
Northern Ireland