In photography, the location of a photo shoot sets the scene for a portrait from its backdrop to overall tone. At Michael Broyles Photography, most of our portraits are shot on location in our studio; however, every once in a while, we venture outdoors for our photo sessions. Outdoor portrait sessions can be somewhat more complex than those shot indoors, with weather, noise, lighting, and a host of other variables influencing the when and where of the final shot. However, outdoor photography presents a world of possibilities for interesting and unusual portrait settings and backgrounds. Here are four tips to keep in mind when selecting a location for your next outdoor portrait session.


Choose a Location with a Story

The first, and perhaps most important, tip for choosing an outdoor location is identifying a spot that has meaning for the portrait’s subject(s). Portraits tell a story of a person, couple, or family’s life and the backdrop for that photo should provide details that make that story more memorable. Choose a location that has an emotional connection for the subject(s) or reflects any hobbies or past-times. The more personal the location, the more meaningful the portrait.


Embrace Natural Lighting

Shooting a portrait outdoors can pose challenges in terms of lighting, both the type and the amount. Natural lighting is always the way to go, however, direct light from the mid-day sun creates harsh shadows, especially in the eyes, and will result in less than picture-perfect results. Instead, find a brightly lit location with diffused, natural light such as under an overhanging tree or in a partially shaded seating area. The diffuse light is softer, more flattering, and creates just enough shadow to add depth to the portrait’s subject(s).


Time it Just Right

If photographers had their choice, many would opt to shoot outdoor portraits during the so-called “Magic Hour,” or the time one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset. At “Magic Hour,” the sun is low in the sky, producing a soft, glowing light that is not as strong as the mid-day sun. Of course, lighting is not the only consideration to account for when timing your photo shoot. Depending on the location, you may need to identify a time when the number of people frequenting your spot is low and the background is not too busy. Crowded places, like urban areas or public parks, can be very tricky for staging a portrait shoot. When possible, choose more natural settings with few distractions to put your subject(s) at ease.


Reduce Distractions…But Make it Interesting

Scenic locales can make ideal portrait settings; however, the location should never upstage the portrait’s subject. Instead of using a dramatic vista as a backdrop, try to identify a location that is a little more subdued but has character provided by the surrounding shapes and textures. Natural materials, like wooden buildings or doors, cobblestone paths, soft grass, and leafy trees can add just the pop of visual interest you need without overwhelming your subject. Even better, look for locations that complement the style and color of the outfits your subject(s) plan to wear.


Portraits in the Park

Michael Broyles Photography is taking it outside this spring with our Portraits in the Park promotion! On April 19 and 23, Michael Broyles will be holding 30-minute portrait sessions at a Farragut park between the hours of 5:30 – 7:30pm. Packages include either an 8×10 portrait or two 5×7 portraits for $100, a savings of over $400. Only 16 lucky people (or couples or families) will be able to take advantage of this offer, so contact Michael Broyles Photography before April 23 to secure your spot.


Outdoor portraits look spectacular in color, especially in the spring; however, black and white prints can be equally dramatic. Interested? During the month of March, Michael Broyles Photography is offering a Black and White Sale with 50% off all black and white prints. Have questions or are ready to schedule your next portrait session? Contact Michael Broyles Photography today.