Studio vs. Outdoor Photography: Which Will Best Suit Your Photography?

Written by Backdrop Express Photography Team on . Posted in Photography Tips, Portrait Photography, Studio Photography

kids holding sign in grass

While some photographers may prefer one over the other, both studio photography and outdoor photography have their advantages. Which you choose will in large part depend on what the needs of you and your subject are. When you are shooting family photos or portrait photography, there are certainly many reasons to choose the studio over the great outdoors, but it is worth considering the pros and cons of both before making a final decision.

Things to Consider: Studio vs. Outdoor Photography

Control

As a photographer, you know that your art is all about control, and control is far easier to obtain in the studio. You can control the lighting, the photo background and even the air temperature surrounding your subject. When working on something as important as family photos or portrait photography, this level of control can make all the difference in the world. Headshot Advice discusses how the studio offers special advantages to the portrait photographer, and they point out how the control of the studio can give a photographer the ideal environment to build a brand. The reliability of a studio location allows the photographer to develop a consistent style that customers may come looking for again and again. For those who are trying to build a business around their art, this level of consistency can be very important.

Also, customers may have a specific place they want to display their photos, and the control over backdrop color in the studio can be tailored to match the display area to create a pleasant visual effect. Using a portable backdrop, you can even take portraits at the home or other semi-controlled area if necessary. The access to electricity and temperature control in such situations is still superior to the outdoors.

Young ballerina on wood floor

Distraction

When working with children, distraction can be an issue. Studios offer a contained environment where you can control what subjects are exposed to. You can provide the distractions or the focuses you want, and this can give you a better chance of capturing the look you want. The outdoors, on the other hand, can quickly become overwhelming to children. Why would they want to stay clean and still for a photo when they could go run and climb trees, or jump in that mud puddle?

When you are working outside with children, it is important to develop a sense of timing. If you approach it right, you can usually maintain their attention for long enough to get some shots in. But you should also understand that they will only stay engaged for so long, especially if temperatures become uncomfortable.

Access

A hike into the mountains or the woods can prove difficult for older people and young children, and can leave them in a state that does not make for good photographs. For someone in a wheelchair or with a disability, it may be far better to use a green screen to put them in the mountains than to try and attempt an actual trip there.

man reporting on green screen

Background

This is one area where outdoor photography often trumps studio photography. No matter how finely detailed your photography backdrop may be, there is simply no comparison to the natural beauty found in the outdoors. Depending on the desires of your subjects, an outdoor photography session may be just what is required for the photographs they want.

Stunning photographs can result from skillful outdoor photography. However, it typically takes time and practice to develop these skills. Outdoor work requires constant adjustments be made, and a healthy capacity for frustration. The wind may blow the subjects hair out of sorts, the temperature may become unpleasantly hot or cold or it may start to rain. Anything and everything can happen outside, so it is worthwhile to be prepared for it.

With all the frustrations, though, can come some truly amazing synchronicities. A family photo amongst the falling leaves can be quite amazing. As a photographer, you should not be surprised if your subjects want to achieve an amazing outdoor image. Your job is to set appropriate expectations, because few people understand all the variables that outdoor photography involves.

three kids laying in leaves

Spontaneity

Outdoor photography, by its very nature, involves a healthy amount of spontaneity. This translates into the image, and some subjects are bound to desire it in their photographs. This spontaneity, however, can prove quite frustrating for the one taking the photographs.

Not everyone will demand an outdoor photography session, and you can produce stellar images in the studio. But when you are faced with a situation where outdoor photography is required, it is important to plan appropriately. With practice, you can develop an intuitive sense during outdoor photography that will allow you to exercise as much control as possible given the circumstances. This will allow you to work well regardless of whether you are in the studio or not.

Father giving son piggyback ride outdoors

Choose What is Best for Each Situation

Depending on your preferences, you may love studio photography and dread outdoor photography, or vice versa. However, in the world of the professional photographer or photography enthusiast, both types of photography may be required. By understanding the advantages to both, you can help explain to your potential subjects what they can expect from the studio and going to an outdoor location. With appropriate expectations, you can make the best out of any situation.

Do you prefer indoor studio or outdoor photography? Why?

Interested in reading more about studio photography? Check out How to Set Up Your Own Photography Studio!

-Backdrop Express Photography Team

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