Powerful Environmental Portraits Need 3 Things

Photofocus (old site)

Environmental portraits show people in their place, their habitat. The environment sets the mood and the place of the story, and a single look at the photograph can tell you what the story is about. Let me show you three things I think about as I light the background to make an environment worth photographing.

1. It’s Gotta Be Believable

Lighting and posing a person so he looks his best is my primary concern. (Here are two other articles about lighting and posing to help people look great.) After that’s under control, I’ve got to figure out what the background will be, and how bright to make it. Most of the time, it’s got to look believable, and I like it to look like a good picture, not a well lit picture. I don’t want someone to say, “Oh, this guy has a nice light from a flash on his face”.

For instance, I…

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