Whether you have purchased a new camera just because you love to take photos, or because you are hoping to one day turn this love into a money-earning business, one of the first areas you need to learn new skills is in the area of how to take a fantastic outdoor portrait. Shooting outdoors can be a lot more challenging for the beginner photographer, simply because you cannot control the elements that you are shooting in. However, by learning a few basics, you can produce outdoor portrait photos that will even win the praise of the professionals.
Time Of Day
The best time of day to take outdoor photos is the time referred to as ‘the golden hour’. Even if you are photographing the most sensational setting in the world, it can still be left looking dull and lifeless if it is photographed at the wrong time of the day.
The golden hour refers to two specific times of the day. Firstly, it is the one-hour window that occurs after sunrise. Secondly, it is the final hour of daylight before the sun sets.
The reason why these periods produce such stunning photos is because during these times the sun is very low in the sky. This means that the light is there, but it is subtle and diffused rather than harsh and glaring like the midday sun can be. You don’t have to worry about overpowering shadows in your photos when you use these periods of daylight to your advantage.
Keep It Simple
One of the tough things when you are shooting outdoor portraits is to make sure that the stunning background does not detract the viewer from seeing the equally stunning subject of the photo.
A background that is free of too much clutter is best, and there are two ways you can achieve this. Firstly, choose a very simple natural background. A field, the sky or an interesting looking wall will all make fabulous backgrounds for portraits being taken outdoors. Alternatively, focus your frame right in on the object being photographed so that they almost fully engulf the frame. By doing this, the object of the photo becomes the subject and not everything that is going on around them.
Avoid Subject Squinting
As previously discussed, the golden hour is the best time to take photos that will not be impacted by the harshness of the sun as it heads into the sky, but there will be times when your subject cannot meet with you during the golden hours. One of the main problems with shooting in bright sun is that your subject is going to want to naturally squint, and that will quickly be captured in your photos.
One way to reduce squinting is to find some shade that your subject can sit under. For example, learning against a tall tree will not only give you sun protection, but it will also give you a simple backdrop to photograph against.
Clouds are another way that you can reduce the impact of the sun as clouds diffuse the light. You will see pretty shadows, refined light and a non-squinting subject to photograph when the clouds come out.
If you want to be extremely creative, take along an old, white queen-size sheet to photography sessions that are outdoors. When you drape it over a branch to filter out the sun, you instantly have a light diffuser to protect the eyes of your subject.
Try putting these tips to the test the next time you need to take some outdoor photos and see how they work out for you. The more you practice your outdoor photography skills, the stronger your skills will become.