Tips for Outdoor Portrait Photography

Tips for Outdoor Portrait Photography

In Photography Tips, Portrait Photography by Stefano CaioniLeave a Comment

Are you wondering how some photographers shoot amazing outdoor portrait photography?

Portraits that are shot outdoors present a number of challenges to photographers. This article talks about some of the best tips that can make outdoor portrait photography much easier.

Tips for Outdoor Portrait Photography

Best Tips for Outdoor Portrait Photography

1. Focus on the Eyes

The eyes of your subject must be the focal point of your portrait photograph. They are windows to the soul and give your photo a much more intimate feel. Additionally, the eyes are also the sharpest part of the face, and hence must be captured the same way.

When combined with the bokeh effect that blurs the background, focusing on the eyes softens the skin on the face, which enhances your portrait photograph.

Related: Beautiful Portraits for Your Inspiration

2. Shoot in RAW

A lot of modern cameras give you a choice of file format between JPEG and RAW. RAW is an uncompressed and unmodified version of whatever your camera sensor captures. It is the digital equivalent of a film negative. JPEG, on the other hand, stores a compressed version of the photo that you captured. RAW is superior to JPEG since it gives you much more flexibility during post-processing. A RAW file does not lose quality while changes are made to the photo during post-production. On the other hand, a JPEG file will degrade for every change made to the picture.

For instance, if you have set your white balance incorrectly and shot a photograph, you can easily fix the issue if the image was captured in RAW. Otherwise, you may have to spend several hours trying to remove the color cast, which degrades the image quality even more. For outdoor portrait shoots, a camera that supports RAW is a necessity.

3. Use a Shallow Depth of Field (create bokeh)

The backgrund of a portrait photograph is quite important. This is equally true even if the backgrond is blurred. This blurred effet is known as bokeh.

In many cases, a bokeh can make a photograph stand out and catch the viewer’s eyes. In order to create this effect, you need to use a wide aperture and a shallow depth of field. Try to choose an aperture such as f/2.8 or f/4 if possible. Choosing the right background can produce incredibly interesting bokeh. Raindrops, flowers, streetlights, and branches of tres are some great bokeh options you can look at.

4. Avoid Direct Sunlight

In addition to creating directional shadows and unpredictable white balance, direct sunlight is also harsh and forces your subjects to squint. You should try to shoot in the shade, where harsh shadows from sunlight are replaced by softer ones occurring due to the features of the face. If you know how to adjust the white balance and exposure on your camera, you can take some amazing portrait photographs in the shade!

5. Shoot During the Golden Hour

The Golden Hour is the time right before sunset and right after sunrise. The light at this time of the day is soft and illuminates everything outdoors in a pleasing manner. It makes your subject look more visually appealing. All types of harsh and unwanted shadows will be eliminated during these hours.

If you plan your shoot in the Golden Hour, it is guaranteed that you will obtain visually pleasing and delicate photographs.

6. Camera Settings Tips for Outdoor Portrait Photography

In order to get the best out of your camera, you must know how to use all its settings. First up, as a rule of thumb with handheld photography, set the shutter speed more than the focal length. Then adjust your ISO to around 400 to reduce camera shakes from being captured. Set a wide aperture to obtain a blurred background.

With some practice and fine tuning, soon you will become an expert at taking perfect shots.

7. Post-Process Outdoor Portrait Photos

Post-processing forms a large part of great photographs. A great shot can be spoiled by unskilled and bad post-processing. You must be careful to maintain the outdoor photography lighting and look in your photos.

A useful technique is to choose a photo from a photographer whose style you admire. Attempt to match the colors and shades of your photo with that of the reference image. With enough practice and consistency, you will get better at post-processing. Soon you will develop your own unique style with outdoor portraits that people can easily recognize.

Related: Beautiful Portraits for Your Inspiration


Like any other type of photography, shooting outdoor portraits takes practice. With these simple tricks in mind, you can save a lot of energy and time, and work towards becoming an outdoor portrait expert!

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