5 Ways to Make an Outdoor Photo Shoot Easy

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

5 Ways to Make an Outdoor Photo Shoot Easy | Backdrop Express Blog

As a photographer you will learn that working outdoors can offer some great natural lighting, background and unique portrait opportunities. However, there are some challenges you will face when taking your photo shoot outdoors. It can be challenging to find the right location, the lighting can be too bright (or not bright enough) and Mother Nature is not always cooperative. But don’t let these issues deter you from experimenting with outdoor photography.

Pack up your camera gear and keep these five tips in mind when heading for the outdoors. One, or maybe all of them, will help make your outdoor photo shoot even easier.

1. Timing

As with many things in life, timing is everything when shooting an outdoor portrait. The time of day can affect lighting, shading and color hues. For example, if you plan your outdoor shoot midday the sun will be at its highest in the sky and its brightest. This can cause drastic shadows to fall on your subject’s face. By knowing the time of day you wish to conduct your photo shoot ahead of time you will be able to adjust your camera settings accordingly and bring all of the necessary camera equipment and accessories.

2. Location

5 Ways to Make an Outdoor Photo Shoot Easy | Backdrop Express

Find a location for your outdoor portrait that is quiet and not very busy with other people. This will prevent any distractions for you and your subject from delaying your shoot. A quiet place will hopefully eliminate the chance of someone accidentally walking in front of your camera while shooting.

Select a location that will offer a natural background with colors that will complement your subject and her outfit. Make sure the colors are not too bright and the background is not too busy, which will distract the viewer’s eye from the subject in the photo. If you are not able to find such a location bring along some type of portable backdrop.

Check to make sure that your location is easily accessible. If it is difficult to get to make sure you have the means (such as a bike or boat) to get there. Also check to see if you need any special permits or written permission to conduct an outdoor shoot at the location. This will avoid any confusion later if you are stopped and asked if you have a permit.

3. Positioning

Where you place your model in association with the photo background can have a huge impact on the overall appearance of an outdoor portrait. Move the subject around to eliminate any distractions in the background, such as people, power lines or signs. Or if it’s easier, move yourself around by shooting up toward or down at your subject. This will save you the step of having to edit the distractions out later.

Try to position your subject in the shade when shooting an outdoor portrait. This will help eliminate any harsh variances between light and dark areas, and she will not be squinting from the bright sunlight.

4. Equipment

Do not leave for your outdoor portrait without having all of the equipment needed. The last thing you want is for something to go wrong with the equipment without having a backup. Make sure to bring extra camera bodies, lenses, filters, a collapsible background, batteries, memory cards and other camera accessories. Make sure to also bring at least two 70mm (or longer) lenses when shooting an outdoor portrait. Other essential pieces of equipment include a gray card and reflectors. The gray card will help you adjust the white balance, which may be off a little from the bright sunlight. The reflector will bounce additional sunlight onto the subject, eliminating any shadows on their face.

A collapsible background is the perfect portable backdrop for any on-the-go photographer. The collapsible background kit will have everything you need if you cannot find the right natural background. Many collapsible backgrounds are reversible, so you may choose the color pattern that suits the setting best. The kits come equipped with a convenient carrying case and a backdrop stand to allow fast and easy setup.

5 Ways to Make an Outdoor Photo Shoot Easy | Backdrop Express

5. Dress Appropriately

When shooting outdoors you will find yourself getting up, getting down and moving all over the place more than you would in a studio. Make sure to dress accordingly to where you will be conducting the photo shoot. Try to avoid wearing heels, dresses, or long sleeved shirts when working outdoors. Not only will you get hot, it will be difficult to walk around and work with your models appropriately. Dress comfortably, yet still try to look professional.

Shooting outdoor portraits can be challenging, however, the final product is well worth the challenges Mother Nature can present. If at all possible, take the time to visit the place where you plan to shoot the portrait and take some samples shots. This will give you an idea of the lighting and any other distractions you may encounter. In the end, make sure you enjoy what you are doing and have fun!

-Backdrop Express Photography Team

Read more about important camera accessories you should never go anywhere without! Check out 7 Basic Accessories for Photographers!

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Comments (3)

  • Michael Burrow


    I prefer to shoot in natural environments, but this is good info. You want to have a background ready to use just in case the weather/sun won’t cooperated and you can’t reschedule your shoot.


  • Robin Sue Marchand


    But thanks for the tips, I can always use them. Always something different I learn everyday from my fellow photographers. Love the outdoor photography, it’s always changing and excellent for backgrounds.


  • Lynn Mitchell


    Thanks for these tips. I usually have trouble with sun spots and flares. I over corrected with Photoshop Elements and I get confused with what filter to use, neutral density vs. polar circular. This may help me with future photo sessions


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