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Outdoor Portrait Photography Tips

Improving your outdoor portrait photography is easy if you remember a few tips. From travel snaps to taking pictures of your kids playing in the fall leaves, outdoor portrait photography is one of the most flexible and fun ways of taking pictures. I take lots of photos outside and I bet you do as well.

Here are a few tips I use when taking outdoor portraits.

Turn your flash on. As long as the people are close enough (max about 15ft), harsh shadows from the sun will be reduced. If the sun is behind your subjects, the flash will even out the light so you can see their faces. See my tips about Digital Flash Photography.

Arrange people so they are not looking directly at the sun. Pictures of squinting friends is probably not what you had in mind. As you choose a direction to have them stand, watch the shadows on their faces. Make it as flattering as possible.

Shoot on a cloudy day. The light is soft with no harsh shadows. Makes for beautiful portraits.

Put the people in the shade with the background in the sun. The people will ‘pop’ out from the background, and they won’t be squinting.

Use a medium telephoto lens. Unless you want an unusual effect, zoom in a little or use a lens in the 80-135mm range. You get the most pleasing facial proportions. Noses and ears are not enlarged or compressed at this range.

Move in close. Make your subjects the feature of the photo.
Choose your background carefully. Choose a plain simple background to highlight the people in the picture. If you want to show people in a scene, use the ‘Rule of Thirds’ to move them to one side of the picture.See my tip about Digital Photography Composition.

Shoot from your subjects level. When you photograph kids and pets at their own level, they look the right size and you see life the way they see it

Show the action. Ask your subjects to do something. Have them interact with the environment; Throw rocks in the river, touch the water fountain or cuddle the baby animal.You will get more natural un-posed photos this way.
Do you see the light? Well get outside with your camera and enjoy the fresh air.