On Location Studio Portrait Photography Tips

Ever wish you could get a low-key studio-type shot when you’re out on location? Sure, the landscape and sunlight look great, but your client would like a little extra—maybe a dramatic portrait or two. Well, with just one key light and a black and white reflector you can get that look easily, no matter where you are. The trick? Check out this video tutorial:

Most of the time when we’re outside, we’re looking to use our surroundings as part of the photo, but sometimes the shoot calls for a little more versatility. Maybe our client is wanting a high variety of shots or maybe we need to go on location for a portrait shot and don’t have an easy means to block out ambient light. Either way, Morgan’s trick is not only straightforward, but super quick and easy.

We may not be able to control the environment around us so much, but what we can control is our exposure, or more specifically what’s known as the exposure triangle: ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, as seen below:

Exposure Triangle

By dialing in the settings to let in as little light as possible, and using the black and white reflectors, we can get a dark, low-key shot that looks like it could have been taken in a studio. You need little else than your key light and your black and white reflectors to do the trick.

reflector as backdrop

Jay Morgan uses a Dynalight Baja B6 strobe for his keylight, but you can also get away with using a speedlight for this process. Just make sure to bring a dark background and use the black reflector. (Honestly, investing in a 7 in 1 reflector kit is one of the best things you can do for on location shooting. Just buy the size that suits your need.)

black backdrop outdoor studio portrait

And in case you didn’t catch it in the video, Morgan is shooting on a Canon 5D Mark III and a Tamron 85mm lens.

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