I’m not much of a portrait photographer. But if I had to do this genre, I’d definitely choose environmental portraits. If it’s something you’re just dipping your toes into, B&H has an amazing video for you. Photographer Alison Wright will tell you about her five top tips for environmental portraits. And it’s not technical tips about gear, composition, or light settings. It’s rather a selection of, let’s say, “human” tips that will make your portraits truly striking and help you tell a story.
- Build a relationship: always show respect for the person you’re photographing. Tell them what you find interesting or beautiful about them, don’t just snap your photos and leave. I would wholeheartedly suggest learning a few words in their language, like “hello,” “goodbye,” and of course, “please” and “thank you.” These can do magic!
- Don’t touch: if you want to move your subject a bit and readjust their pose, always ask for permission to touch them. There are many cultural differences between people from different parts of the world. In some situations, it may be completely inappropriate to touch your subject even if you have the best intentions.
- Check your background: one of the key ingredients to the environmental portrait is, well, the environment. So, find the background that you like and that tells a story. You can wait patiently for the perfect subject to walk in, or you can set the scene yourself, it all depends on your style and preferences.
- Ask what’s important to them: if you want to give your subject something to do with their hands, it’s best to give them something they care about. Ask them what’s important to them and what they’d like to be photographed with. You’d keep their hands busy, and get a genuine, emotional portrait.
- Be prepared: make your camera an extension of your arm. Make sure that you’ve already set up before you approach the person. You want to make them feel relaxed around you, and if you fiddle with your settings… Well, that won’t make them relayed at all.
I personally loved this video because it goes beyond technical advice, as I mentioned in the intro. And I’ll definitely keep them in mind if I try my luck with this genre of photography.
[5 Tips for Environmental Portraits with Alison Wright | B&H Photo]