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Take Advantage of the Season for Amazing Portrait Photography

by Darryl Brooks about a month ago in how to

Take Advantage of the Season for Amazing Portrait Photography

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Stop waiting for the perfect season to take that fantastic environmental portrait. If you use a studio for your portrait photography, then the seasons don’t matter. But if you venture outside, you must consider the environment, and the primary environmental factors are the seasons. Please don’t ignore the season; embrace it. Don’t wait; shoot now. There is always good light to be found in any season, and the changing seasons will give you a variety of backgrounds.


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Of course, for many, spring is a favorite season. You are coming out of the cold doldrums of winter, and the world is waking up again. As a photographer, this means you are just beginning to get some greenery for your backgrounds, and most importantly, those spring flowers.

But don’t allow those bright yellow jonquils or purple tulips to overpower your subject. Let them add a touch of color in the background, out of focus, to add some interest to your image. Or use a curving bed of spring flowers to create leading lines toward the subject. Also, be aware of the light falling on the person. Those trees, just budding new spring leaves, can produce a distracting dappled light on your subject. Move to full, open shade, or use a diffuser to soften the light.


Summer should provide you with plenty of cover under trees to give you lovely full shade. As with spring, be aware of dappled light and make sure you have complete, consistent shade on your subject. Be mindful of the heat and shoot late in the day, or even better early in the morning before the heat builds up. Use a stand-in to set your exposure and composition before bringing your subject onto the set. Nothing can ruin hair and makeup quicker than high temperatures and humidity. A picnic pavilion in a local park is a perfect place to find open shade. As always, be aware of the background.


Autumn is probably the best time to shoot portraits outdoors. You still have plenty of cover overhead to provide open shade, but there are also vibrant colors to give you warm backgrounds. Just be aware of plants and trees that lose their leaves early. Find a spot with plenty of green grass under a large tree that hasn’t lost its leaves. Take advantage of the golden hour late in the day and include plenty of fall colors to make those images pop. If you can find a background of fall foliage to use as a background, that would be perfect. As always with a portrait, use a wide aperture such as f4 to blur the background and produce good bokeh.


Many photographers move inside during the winter, but there are still some environmental shots worth taking. The cold, stark nature of winter landscapes lends itself to black and white photography. Dress your model in clothes that provide good contrast and shoot for black and white. This doesn’t mean to set your camera to black and white. Always shoot in color. You will have more control over tones and contrast in post-processing. Also, if you are shooting in snow, you will need to use exposure compensation to make the snow look white. Remember, your camera always wants to shoot neutral grey. When processing your images, don't just default to the standard black and white settings. Play around with the color and contrast sliders as they will have a huge impact on the final image.

If you shoot portraits outside, and you should, don’t just shoot the same scenes year around. Take advantage of the seasons and bring some variety to your imagery. Throughout the year, always be on the lookout for good backgrounds. And remember, what doesn't work right now, may be perfect during a different season.

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Darryl Brooks
Darryl Brooks
Read next: 4 Ways To Find Inspiration As A Beginner Photographer
Darryl Brooks

I am a writer with over 16 years of experience and hundreds of articles. I write about photography, productivity, life skills, money management and much more.

See all posts by Darryl Brooks

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