Outdoor Portrait Photography can be the most rewarding when you use the right lighting. The two photography tips I am encouraging you to focus on first are finding a good location where the lighting is good on your subjects and choosing an angle where there is good lighting on your background as well.
In the family portrait above, I placed my subjects in the shade with just a small amount of direct sunlight filtering through the tree and striking my subjects.
This was a little tricky because the wind was blowing and causing those small patches of sunlight to move on my subjects. I wanted a bit of direct sunlight to hit the black haired dog to create some highlights and illuminate his dark face.
I also placed a very large white foam board to the left of my family to add more fill light so that they would be as bright as the sunlit foliage in the background.
In this small photo to the left, you can see that the bright sun striking the grassy area is too bright and distracting behind my couple posing in the shade. It's a common photo mistake to not pay attention to the photo lighting on your background.
We can use editing software to overcome this mistake, but it's better to get it right by using good photography lighting techniques to begin with.
Photo editing takes time and knowledge and often does not come out as well as doing it right when taking your photos.
In this high school senior portrait I found a shaded spot for my model with a shaded area for the background.
I also look at the colors when choosing my background because bright colors can often be distracting.
This girl's brown shirt was in the same color family as the brown fence behind her.
Her well illuminated face and blond hair really stand out against the background and make a beautiful outdoor portrait.
Notice how I posed her with her body facing to the right and her head turned back slightly to the camera's left.
If you would like some more portrait posing tips, there are several more on this web site.
This third example of outdoor portrait photography was taken about 10 feet away from the location of the photo at the beginning of this article.
If you can't tell by now, I am a big fan of using open shade for photography lighting. Direct sunshine hitting the front or side of your subject can cause squinted eyes and harsh shadows.
The tree acts like a framing device on the right side of the portrait. I used a wide open camera aperture in this photo to make sure the background would be out of focus.
During the consultation with the client before our portrait session, we first talked about the location.
We discussed the posing with the dog, and what kind of clothing would give us the best outdoor portrait photography.
Here is an interesting video on natural outdoor portrait lighting. The photographer uses no reflectors and no fill flash. He is finding locations that have open sky and reflections from buildings and other objects.
This is outdoor portrait photography with only the camera and the subject, simplicity at its finest.
If this video on outdoor portrait photography stops working let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
This urban setting is quite different than my nature-based samples above and give quite a different feel but the lighting principles are very similar.
f the light is mostly coming from high above your subject, you will get shadowing in the eyes.
If it real strong overhead light, the effect is called "raccoon eyes."
It is a common photo mistake that is easy to make with outdoor photography.
Don't get me wrong. This is a really cute baby photo.
It would be an even better portrait if the light was coming from in front of the subject.
The eyes of your subject act like little mirrors of the light and are the single most important element in head and shoulder portraits and head shots.
Please take advantage of the many other digital photography tips I've written about. Enjoy the art of photography as you progress with your abilities to take better pictures.