Unique Outdoor Portraits In Ordinary Outdoor Locations.

So many photographers today use public parks and common outdoor areas that the key to unique outdoor portraits is being able to take ordinary outdoor scenes and make them look extraordinary.  This requires you to look at scenes differently, using unique perspectives, different angles and elevations to take your portraits.  Equipment choices are also important. I personally like to use a lens that gives me a somewhat “distorted” view of reality.  The closer your lens is to a “normal” lens the more normal, ordinary and like the unskilled masses of students and soccer moms your portraits will be.  Clients don’t spend large sums of money on portraits taken with a “normal” or as your eye would see it perspective.  For this reason I shoot all of my outdoor portraits with either a telephoto perspective or very wide angle perspective. Most of my portraits are shot with a 70-200mm Canon lens, most of the time at 200mm and almost always wide open.  Again, I want to create a look that isn’t normal and that unskilled photographers can’t.  By opening up the lens all the way you have unique look with everything other subject having varying degrees of softness.  Most unskilled photographers are afraid of opening up their lens all the way because everyone says it degrades the edge sharpness, but then what do most photographers do? They go into Photoshop and darken and soften the edges (vignette) to draw the viewer’s eye to the subject.  What a concept, just let the lens do it for you!

Another important factor is using a lighting system that is easy, flexible, allows you to see what the lighting effect it is creating and works in a variety of situations.  Wow, that’s one hell of lighting system.  Some photographers automatically think of flash.  The TTL systems today are state of the art, but an on camera flash isn’t a professional quality light source, nor can you see the effect of the light on the face.  Using flash outdoor is a guessing game, for you may know the light output, the lighting ratio between flash and ambient light, but you will never know what that lighting ratio looks like on an individual’s face and with their unique skin tone.  Obviously lighting ratios would be different on fair skin when compared to very dark skin, since dark skin would go from highlight to deep shadow much faster than fair skin, so it is, no matter what anyone says a guessing game (and why most  speakers/photographers that use this type of lighting outdoors typically show full length images with a very small facial size, because the smaller the face the less important quality light becomes).

I use a silver reflector as my main-light source.  The color temperature of reflected sunlight doesn’t change throughout a session, the lighting effect you see is the lighting effect you get and it is completely flexible when you learn to feather the main beam of reflected sunlight off the subject to give you just the perfect amount of light to balance with the exposure on the background.  For further study on any of this information order the DVD Outdoor portrait photography.

Final step is posing or non-posing.  Believe it or not, even in candid or journalistic photography you are responsible for the way your client looks.  If you don’t believe it,  they will show you when the don’t order because the mother, daughter or individual woman appears fat in her photos.  You have two choices here, either pose every part of the subject or involve the subject or subjects in some activity or interaction which creates interest.  Saying, “go stand over there” isn’t a pose strategy!  I love posing and how you can completely change the overall look of an image with unique posing.  Again, posing is a bit of a complex topic to cover here, so buy one of my many books on posing and you will be ahead of the game.  In any profession, knowledge is power, to learn more is to earn more, so as you read this information, view my DVD or books or watch the short video clips on YouTube, don’t just listen to what I say, get up, get a model and put the information to use improving the photography you create!

 

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~ by jeffsmithbooks on November 15, 2010.

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