Outdoor Water Backgrounds, It’s a Girl Thing!

One of the most commonly requested outdoor backgrounds are water backgrounds. Most people think of the ocean, but most photographers have lakes, rivers and parks that have creeks and ponds. Sometimes these water area can look pretty murky, I often feel a little guilty about having girls put their feet in the water, but you can transform nasty greenish brown water into blueish water by selecting the correct angle. In a shaded area with blue sky over the water, the water will look blue in the photos, no matter how icky the water might be.

Moving water can also create a beautiful backgrounds and foregrounds. The subtle texture created by the moving water creates natural ripples and provided a feeling of movement within the frame.  Always be careful when putting a client/subject in moving water. Shallow, man-made creeks are fine, but natural rivers can easily whisk you, your equipment  and client away.  When we use natural rivers (there is one very close to the studio) we find a wide portion of the river where the water slows down.  We also look for idle pools to the side of the flowing water to pose the client, while still showing the quickly moving water in the background.

When you have water areas, you have to control the type of clothing the client wears. Shorts are ideal, summer dress that are shorter work well, but jeans often don’t work because they can’t be rolled up enough. Nicer dresses and clothing (not easily washable) shouldn’t be worn. The other problem with water is that some women will want to use swimsuits, especially seniors that like pushing the envelope of good taste and what mom will allow. Look at Facebook for senior age people, the big thing right now is senior girls use bathing suit shots for their profile photo. While some male photographers will think there is nothing wrong with a swimsuit shot, most parents and grandparents won’t want them taken and will definitely not buy them.  Maybe this is just in my area (you know how conservative Ca. is), I know senior photographers for years have been showing senior girls in swimwear and sexy poses, so I know they are hot sellers somewhere because no speaker would show a product that you can’t sell!  For me I like selling what I take the time to create and by using a little imagination you can create portraits that show more of the body but are acceptable to parents. A young lady in short shorts and a crop top that shows her stomach will look beachy for the senior and is more covered/not in swim wear for older relatives so they will buy these poses.

If you don’t currently work with water in your backgrounds you have remember it’s beauty, as well as the difficulty in using it,  comes from the water being highly reflective.  The reflective nature of water is similar to working with a mirror in that it reflects everything.  Light areas have a tendency to become too light to be attractive and if water get too dark it looks swamp-like.  You have to choose you camera position/angle and area to pose the subject to give your background the right amount of separation from the water behind and achieve the right coloration of the water.

Unless you work in a mountain spring, creek or river, the water in most commonly used water areas is somewhere between a swamp and toilet water.  They say mankind has evolved (only some of mankind has evolved with the rest being one step above a primate).  And this becomes obvious when you go to a popular river location on a Monday morning.  You will find everything in the water from dirty disposable diapers to broken beer bottles on the river bottom where your client will be walking.  Water areas in public parks are even worse, so I never have a subject stand in water above their lower thighs and I always suggest the client take a long hot shower after our little “suare’  in the swamp”.   FOR MORE ON PHOTOGRAPHING AT WATER AREAS VIEW A SAMPLE OF MY DVD OUTDOOR PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY at:  http://www.jeffsmithphoto.com/dvd


~ by jeffsmithbooks on August 30, 2010.

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