On-location portrait photography: step outside for spring shoots

On-location shooting offers endless possibilities for composing your photos or posing your model. When I started photographing people, my family and I lived in Bristol, England. With so many amazing locations for photo ops, the city makes for the perfect backdrop.

However, his early days as a portrait photographer had some ups and downs. After taking architectural photos for a while, I found it hard to connect with other people in this field. One day I discovered the online model and photographer networking platform, Port purple, where I met like-minded people and started to gain confidence. I had more and more photoshoots and I was building my database of contacts and whereabouts.

Looking for the best lenses for portraits?

I would always suggest starting with a freelance model who is confident to style the shoot, then slowly add hair and makeup artist, stylist, retoucher, modeling agency, etc. We need to feel comfortable before doing anything new.

The good thing about photography is that there is no right or wrong. My camera is my drawing tool; by taking photos, I freeze a moment in the past that I will never find. I shoot with my trusty Canon EOS 6D and alternate between the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM and the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM.

See more of Kat’s work on her instagram.

3 Top Tips for On-Location Portrait Photography

(Image credit: Kat J Ehlers)

01 Start with the idea

It is important to know exactly what you want to achieve with your shoot. One way to help everyone on a team understand your visual aesthetic is to create a mood board. Whenever I plan a photo shoot, I always start with pinterestan amazing online platform where you can easily gather so many fascinating ideas.

(Image credit: Kat J Ehlers)

02 Locate your pitches

Once you know what you want to photograph, start looking for a suitable location – for example, a forest, a field of sunflowers, a sandy beach or an apple orchard. It all depends on your imagination. When I’m scouting, I always take photos on my phone to check comps and to remind me where I want my model to go later.

(Image credit: Kat J Ehlers)

03 Embrace teamwork

When I started photographing models, I wanted to do everything myself: I wanted to style the shoot, take the photos, edit them – I even wanted
learn to apply make-up and hair. I’m so glad I didn’t. Teamwork on a set is essential. Everyone thinks differently and everyone brings different amazing ideas to the table.

Kat’s advice on shooting for editorials

(Image credit: Kat J Ehlers)

Once you have your mood board ready, you know who’s on your team, and you all know where you’re headed for a photo shoot, the next step would be to take pictures. If I’m shooting an editorial about a location, I need to get a variety of close-ups, headshots, and full-body shots. My favorites are still portraits, but I’m also obsessed with close-ups and full-body photography.

When I put photographs in an editorial, I want the person who is going to see it to read it like a story. For example, I would start with the portrait where the model is looking at the camera, then I would zoom in and photograph her makeup.

I will follow with a full body photo where she is static or walking towards me, then I will have another photo of her static feet and shoes, for example if I am shooting for a shoe brand. When I am satisfied with these four compositions, my team and I will then move on to the next look.

(Image credit: Kat J Ehlers)

A secret trick

Always have a portable changing tent with you. It makes my life easier: I don’t have to look for places for the model to change, and she feels comfortable. And we don’t have to go back to the car all the time!

(Image credit: Kat J Ehlers)

Capture the moment

I am human and there are times when I make mistakes. Not every shot will go as planned and you won’t be happy with the result every time. As long as I get two or three great photos from each shoot, I’m happy.

This photograph of twins was taken at 1/800 sec, f/5.6, ISO100. At first, I was not happy with the shadow on the left model’s face, but later, I really loved it. Sometimes we can be in our brother’s or sister’s shadow.

Read more:

The best lenses for the Canon 6D Mark II
Best Canon EOS 6D Mark II deals
Best 70-200mm Lenses

Stewart C. Hartline