Environmental portrait photography is different from regular portraiture, as the art of capturing photos of an individual aims to serve a story-telling purpose. It is a form of photo essay that tells more about the individual posing as the central figure of the photograph, by using that person’s comfort zone or his or her most familiar environment as additional context.
While regular portraiture uses only plain, formal and often somber background, environmental photography requires making use of a background that is more informative and expressive. If a portrait was taken in an outdoor location that does not relate to the subject’s lifestyle, it will not fully suffice in fulfilling the purpose of environmental portrait photography, which is that of giving a brief insight about the photographed person.
Important Points to Consider in Environmental Portrait Photography
In providing a broader perception through environmental portraiture, the photographer’s understanding goes beyond knowing how to best use a camera for portrait purposes. He or she must also comprehend the why, the where and the when of the circumstances that best depict the subject. The background therefore must be natural, which could be anything of relevance to the central figure: a place of work, recreation, hobby, passion or anything that can best describe the subject’s way of life.
Engage Your Subject in a Casual Interview
Give an extra mile to know more about your subject by way of an informal interview. Your own insight about the person can help you take control over the entire photography session. Knowing where a person is most comfortable can help you decide on the location to use as background. An understanding of your subject’s likes or aversions will give you ideas on what poses would express your subject’s strongest features and lifestyle.
Choose a Location that Provides Context
Choose a location that is not only interesting as a background but also purposeful in terms of context. It’s important that a setting or background will have to blend with the personality or lifestyle of your subject. Still, make sure that it adds information instead of detracting focus on what the photo essay is all about
Candid Poses are Good But Adding a Bit of Drama Works Welt
One of the distinctions of environmental portraiture is the candidness of the poses struck by your subject, while sitting, standing or even reclining. However, in order to highlight the most interesting facial features of your subject, adding a bit of drama or a theatrical touch to your subject’s poses and expressions will make the portrait more captivating.
Using props is one way to create a balance between candid and dramatic poses, but they should be devices, tools or objects that your subject is adept at holding and/or using. That way, he or she knows instinctively the kind of emotions or expressions to project when striking poses. . .
Camera Settings Depend on How You Want to Project Your Subject
Inasmuch as environmental portrait photography takes into consideration the background or location, your camera setting depends on how your subject registers as the focal point in the environment. Still, if you are professionally engaged in this kind of photography undertaking, it’s a must to invest in the best photography equipment that allows you to adjust settings with as few adjustments as possible.
This goes without saying that you need to buy the right lens for portraits because you have to use a lens with a specific focal length and aperture. While a primary lens ensures the quality of your image, it has few to offer in terms of focal lengths. That being the case, you have to maintain a specific distance when taking photos of your subject.
Zoom lenses on the other hand, have a wide range of focal lengths; but you need to select a focal length setting that will produce clear and sharp.images of both your subject and the background. Another advantage of using zoom lenses for environmental portraits is that the best ones offer good bokeh quality.