Here’s a challenge. Find five gorgeous portrait photography locations within one square block of your home. The ugliest neighborhood in New York notwithstanding.Think that’s impossible? Think again. Photographer Jordan Matter has some tips you could use to find a great portrait location no matter where you are:
There’s got to be some cars around your neighborhood. Find a car that matches your talent’s eyes or a piece of clothing she is wearing or even her skin tone. The trick is in using the right focal length, aperture, and composition. A 50mm lens, for example, captures a lot more of the scene.
A busy background with the cars easily identifiable would be too distracting. Switch to a longer lens with a wider aperture to capture something like the shot on the right. Use a wide aperture and position the talent about 15 feet away from the background. This will blur things out nicely.
2. Open Doorway
Matter says with a lot of enthusiasm, “door light is gorgeous!” Doorways tend to soften the ambient natural light. When the model is up front toward the outside, the light is bright on the skin. But when your subject moves inside the light is almost perfect.
3. Stone Wall
Walls make for awesome backgrounds. But stones are really beautiful. This is because stones have texture which makes a gorgeous background for portraits. But even with backgrounds like textured stone walls like these you have to work the scene in order to produce nice portraits.
Shooting straight on with the stone wall directly behind the subject creates a flat image:
With the subject taking a few steps forward things change a bit:
Another approach is to place the model sideways with the wall running the course of the frame. This creates a nice perspective and depth in the image. You have to use a long lens though and make sure that you also open up the aperture.
4. Blown Out Background
Imagine you’re shooting later in the day and you need to find a place where the background can be blown out. Find a way to have the sky in the background. Expose for the subject’s face. When you do that your background is going to be blown out, which produces a nice bright background for your portraits.
5. Gorgeous Landscape
Imagine you’re standing at this beautiful location. Naturally, you would want to incorporate that in your portraits. To do that, ditch the long lens and pick up a wider one. Something like the 50mm or even a 28mm. That way you can incorporate your talent and your background in the same frame.
Try this challenge. Look for five beautiful portrait locations within a block of where you live or work. Tell us what you find!
For further training: The Art of Portrait Photography
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