A few tips for outdoor photography
Outdoor photography comes with its own unique set of challenges and opportunities. It’s not just about taking your camera out, charging the batteries and going all around outside snapping pictures like crazy. On the contrary, it’s a lot more than that. To shoot professional-looking images, there are a few things that outdoor portrait shooters need to know about.
Use the right equipment
In contrast to what most people think, or seem to think, you won’t need tons of costly equipment to shoot fantastic outdoor photos. The pieces of gear you need for starters are pretty basic. They include a (1) flashgun or speedlight flash, designed to attach to your camera’s hot shoe and to automatically fire when a photo is taken aside from being easy to operate; (2) standard zoom lens, which is most commonly used in photography as it can deliver everything from short telephoto focal lengths to wide-angle shots, with an overall image quality that isn’t as compromised as that with a superzoom lens; (3) reflector, which enhances photos by effectively bouncing natural light.
You’ll also want to have handy these useful extras to help give your images a more professional look: telephoto zoom lens, which allows you to get close to your subject and make it the focus of your shot; fast prime lens, which has a larger maximum aperture for quicker shutter speeds and less noticeable vignetting and distortion; wireless flash trigger, which signals the flash to fire at the exact moment the shutter of the camera opens; flash diffuser, which alters the way the light of your flash illuminates the subject and its surrounding environment.
Choose the perfect location, composition and framing
Outdoor portrait photography is primarily about shooting images virtually anywhere, from your garden outside to a sunny tropical beach. That being said, you still need to know how to optimize your selected location. If the location complements the portrait, make sure to include the background. However, if it isn’t particularly pleasing to your own eye, opt for a limited depth of field or use tight framing so the subject remains the focus of the portrait. The most striking photos often comprise simple components so it is sensible to shoot against simple, clutterless backgrounds such as foliage, the wall or sky so the subject ultimately stands out. There are exceptions to this rule, specifically when the objective is to take environmental portraits where the surroundings merit the same focus as the subject itself.
When composing your photo, do your best to position either the subject’s eyes (for close-up and head-and-shoulders shots) or face (on full- or half-length portraits) by employing the rule of thirds. This ensures a more balanced composition compared to placing those elements in the frame’s center. When you have to shoot closer than full length, consider the framing meticulously. As much as possible, do not crop the portrait in a way where knees or elbows or any joints touch the frame’s edges.
Focus on your task
When you have made sure the camera is focused on your subject, you also have to make sure your mind is focused on the overall image as well. The subject you are taking a photo of should not be crowded with serious distractions including signs, single pieces of garbage, power lines, single long blades of grass or even trees. Do not have your subject looking into the glare of the sunlight, which can make a human subject squint, resulting in unflattering photos. If your subject has a great time during the shoot, you surely will too. If you enjoy what you are doing, it will be apparent in your work as well as the expression of your subject.