Tips For Photographing Portraits Outside the Studio On Location

Shooting on location can be exciting and fresh, but it can also be a tremendous challenge. Not that studio work is any less tedious, but there is always a heightened element of the unknown when working on location. You have to be prepared to roll with the punches and adapt and improvise in order to get the shot. In this hour and half long seminar by renowned photographer, Brian Smith, you can learn some tips and insights to help you master the art of location shooting. Take a look:

What You Should Know

  • Before you head out to your location, it’s important to make sure have everything packed that you will need. Here is look inside of Smith’s camera bag. The items you see below are examples of what he may pack for a typical shoot. Of course, this is not an all inclusive display, but many of the essentials are shown along with a few items that are easy to forget such as a lens cleaning kit, thumb drives, and extra batteries.


  •  Part of the unknown factor when dealing with shooting portraits on location is that you never know what kind of props your subject will show up with.


 As Smith explains, ” Probably the coolest prop anyone has ever shown up with to a shoot is when Don King showed up with  world welterweight champion Carlos Mayorga.”

  • Even though your ISO goes to 25,000, lights will still help you create depth and drama which make for better portraits.
  • When working with speedlights, aperture on your camera controls exposure on your subject, shutter speed controls the background.


  • Try feathering your light. Do you see in the photo above how the light is aimed slightly above the subject? This will keep the subject from being too bright and instead lit a little more softly and flattering.

There are a lot of other helpful tips on the video as well, it’s definitely worth a watch. Smith is sponsored by Sony, so you may hear him mention it frequently throughout the video, but it doesn’t come off as a sales pitch and there’s still plenty of useful information to be found.

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