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How to Pick a Location for an Outdoor Portrait

Learn how to pick a location for an outdoor portrait from professional photographer Joe Sinnott in this Howcast photography tutorial.


I'm Joe. I teach photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York. These are a few outdoor location ideas.

Almost anything works as an outdoor location if you let the background go out of focus. Use an F-stop of 5, 6-ish or so, so that you have enough depth of field for your subject to be in focus and your background goes completely out.

It doesn't hurt if your background is much brighter than your foreground. Keep your subject in the shade so there's nice, soft, even, diffused lighting on them. Use a reflector to brighten them up a little bit in the shade.

But so long as your background is out of focus and indistinct, there are very few things that really don't work.

Be careful when you're setting up your subject. Sidney, from your waist turn a little bit to your left.

Be conscious of anything vertical in your background so its not coming right out of their heads, even something that's a little bit out of focus or indistinct that's coming right out of somebody's head is going to be a little bit distracting.

If you can't find a situation where your background is far enough away for you to put it out of focus, then try to use something simple and uniform and regular like a brick wall. Or even just get very, very high up on the ladder and looking down so that the only background you have is ground and whatever is distracting in the background is out of your frame.

Fabulous. Lift your chin a tiny bit.

And those are some ideas for outdoor location portraits.

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