8 Tips for Choosing a Great Portrait Photography Location

8 Techniques for Choosing a Great Portrait Photography Location

How to choose a great portrait photography location

Every portrait picture taking session requires a great location. After all, the place determines the backdrop, the foreground, and other key compositional components.

But how can you find the perfect portrait photography location? How do you find foregrounds and backgrounds that both complement and enhance the subject?

In this article, We share my top eight tips for choosing a photoshoot place, whether you’re shooting couples , high-school seniors , families , or even street portraits . I also provide plenty of location examples as you go along (so you know exactly what you should search for).

Ready to scout out locations like a professional? Then let’s dive right in, beginning with my first tip:

1 . Make sure the area is meaningful

When selecting a portrait pictures location, I encourage you to definitely start with which means .

Sure, standard portrait shots – with the subject towards leafy trees or a whitened background – look nice. In case you can find someplace meaningful, it’ll take your images to a whole new level.

In order you consider each potential place, ask yourself: Does this area add to the story? Does it have which means to the portrait subjects?

Tips for Choosing a Great Portrait Photography Location

For instance, should you be doing an engagement photoshoot, you might journey with your topics to the original proposal place. And if you’re doing loved ones portraits, you might ask the family if there’s anywhere exclusive they like to go (such as a nearby park, close by lake, or even their home garden).

A lot of people have at least one or 2 locations that work, both aesthetically and emotionally. But ensure that you ask your subjects regarding potential locations in advance (you don’t want to tension them out on the day of the shoot! ).

2 . Look for areas of open shade

While bright, sunny days are always great for picnics, swimming, and noontime fun, they’re not so great for portrait pictures.

The truth is, bright sun creates plenty of unpleasant shadows, especially throughout the eyes – plus, vivid sun often causes the particular subjects to squint, which is a big no-no.

If you’re lucky, your photoshoot will fall on a time with some nice cloud protect, and you’ll be able to capture soft, evenly lit pictures without much effort. But atmosphere are never guaranteed, which means that you always, generally need a backup plan.

Specifically, seek out portrait pictures locations that provide plenty of open up shade.

(Open shade refers to places that are shaded but aren’t completely closed off. A small meadow surrounded by trees and shrubs is a perfect example of open color; the meadow is covered with shadows, but lots of light can filter upon through the branches. )

Open shade is ideal because it doesn’t feature severe sunlight falling directly on the subject, but it provides enough gentle to give the eyes some twinkle. In my experience, open shade provides nice, soft, directional gentle that creates depth yet isn’t full of contrast.

Of course , if your photoshoot does fall on a cloudy day, you can ignore your shaded locations. But it is always a good idea to have a few in mind (just in case! ).

3. Discover some leading lines

Tips for Choosing a Great Portrait Photography Location

Leading lines make reference to lines that lead the particular viewer’s eye into the scene (and generally toward the main subject).

And while leading lines are specifically popular in landscape photography, they work great within portrait photography, too; they will help create depth, these people focus the viewer at the main subject, plus they include a sense of movement, or dynamism, to the composition.

So when you are scouting possible photoshoot locations, keep an eye out for leading outlines. Note that lines can be anything at all: fences and paths are popular, but you can use rotating tree branches, the outlines of a cornfield, tree roots, hand railings, and so much more.

The image featured at the start of this section uses a fence to lead the eye, could next image uses the train track edges:

Tips for Choosing a Great Portrait Photography Location

4. Look for backlit leaves

Here’s a portrait digital photography secret:

If you want really beautiful backgrounds – the kind of backgrounds that are filled with gorgeous, sparkly bokeh – then you should look for thickets of leaves…

…and make sure that, when you conduct your photoshoot, the leaves are backlit .

You observe, when the sun filters by means of leaves, it creates beautiful pinpricks of light. And when these light pinpricks are rendered out of focus, ideally using a wider aperture of f/1. 8, f/2. 8, or f/4, they’ll turn into a stunning mosaic of green twinkles:

Tips for Choosing a Great Portrait Photography Location

To get the best results, I’d recommend capturing late in the day. This way, the sun will be low in the sky, so you’ll be able to photograph backlit leaves without needing to shoot upward. Plus, the particular bokeh will take on a gorgeous golden glow!

Note that the backlighting will create shadows, so consider using a reflector to bounce some extra light into your subject’s face.

five. Search for beautiful textures

This portrait location tip is simple, but it functions amazingly well:

Find locations that offer plenty of texture, such as barn doorways, rocks, tree bark, or even walls with peeling color.

After that, when you conduct the photoshoot, position your subject directly in front of the texture, then breeze away!

Tough textures can help make your subject’s skin pop, and they also can add an extra layer appealing to your portraits:

Tips for Choosing a Great Portrait Photography Location

And I encourage you to experiment with different apertures. Sometimes, you’ll want to use a broad aperture to soften the backdrop texture – whereas also, you’ll want to use a filter aperture so the texture creates plenty of nip . Make sense?

6. Add in geometric forms

Our brains like order. We want the puzzle pieces to fit collectively, and we want the elements of every photograph to fit together just like a completed jigsaw.

Therefore , if you’re right after powerful family portrait compositions , you should search for locations that feature plenty of eye-catching geometry.

Personally, I like to look for triangles, circles, rectangles, and pieces. Then I compose my images so the shapes fit together.

Of course , you may be interested in different shapes – though when you’re only starting out, simply look for any and all angles. Then do what you can to incorporate it into your shots.

For instance, you will probably find locations with fences, high trees, houses, reeds, train tracks, and more! (When you start looking for shapes, you’ll notice them everywhere. )

Tips for Choosing a Great Portrait Photography Location

7. Guarantee the location has layers

The best portrait pictures feature lots of depth . The audience feels like they could step into the frame and touch the individual elements.

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

You use layers . Specifically, you search for areas that feature strong foregrounds, midgrounds, and backgrounds, then let these different components draw the viewer with the composition.

For example, look at this next photo:

Tips for Choosing a Great Portrait Photography Location

It offers plenty of depth, right? The lawn acts as the foreground, the toddler acts as the midground, and the leaves act as a background – for an ideal combination of three-dimensionality!

8. Find rows of trees

Any time a series of trees are organized in a line, they often make a stunning result, one that appears especially great in portrait photos:

Tips for Choosing a Great Portrait Photography Location

You see, a line of trees and shrubs offers:

  • Plenty of open shade designed for beautiful diffused light
  • An obvious indicator of depth
  • Lots of leaves for stunning bokeh

Plus, lines of trees frequently come with paths, which can develop beautiful leading lines (see the image above! ).

And that’s why I find rows of trees anytime I can!

Pro tip: Try shooting with a long lens from a distance; this will produce a stunning tunnel vision effect that often looks beautiful . You can also experiment with broad apertures for extra background bokeh.

Portrait pictures locations: final words

Now that you’ve completed this article, you know all about selecting a portrait location – plus you’re ready to capture several stunning portrait photos!

So head out and begin scouting. Create a location list, which you can reference as needed. And, of course , have fun!

Now over to a person:

How can you choose your next portrait photoshoot location? Which of these guidelines do you like most? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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