Outdoor Portrait Photography

How To Do Outdoor Portrait Photography?



One of the most relaxing forms of photography is undoubtedly outdoor photography. There are many kinds of Outdoor photography. You can do it include a landscape photo, as well as outdoor portrait photo. On my blog, I would like to tell you more and describe my photo sessions, so I will present you an examples of my images.


Outdoor Portrait Photography
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma Art 85mm – 1/250 sec. f1.4 ISO-100

Each photographer, starting with an amateur photographer, intermediate photography enthusiast and ending with professional photographers, has experienced the charms of photography outdoors.

One of the main differences between outdoor photography and studio photography is undoubtedly the studio, or rather the lack of it! That is why many photographers start their adventure in nature outside the building. The advantage of this type of photography is total freedom. Just take a camera and start taking pictures. You don’t need too many devices, studio lamps, light modifiers, tripods, to start doing photography. Just the camera and lens. Of course, the cost of renting the studio and bills is zero!

In this case, we use natural daylight. More about the light and a light technics I will write in the next posts. Basically, outdoor photography is all about sunlight. There are many ways how we can use it. The best time for photography is a “Golden Hour”. The Golden Hour Is a short moment (around an hour) of the day when the sun shines in a very specific way. During the day we have two such seasons – just after sunrise and a moment before sunset.


Colour temperature is a measure of a light’s colour. Colour Temperature is measured in the Kelvin unit. Mastering it will help you keep your shots looking accurate and free from unnatural colour casts. During the golden hour, the colour temperature of the light changes. Natural light has about 5300 Kelvins. During the golden hour instead of 5300 Kelvin we will be dealing with a temperature of about 2000-3000 Kelvin, which means that the light will be much warmer.

Not counting a spontaneous trip to the woods, on holidays by the sea or mountains, I personally, combine natural lighting techniques mixing with photographic Speedlight, flash lamps and a light`s modifier.



How to complete the lighting and have control over the light?

Outdoor Fashion Portrait Photography
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma Art 85mm – 1/500 sec. f1.4 ISO-100

As I mentioned, there is nothing cooler than a spontaneous photo session with a model and camera in hand. You can relax and surrender to the nature that surrounds us and to constantly changing lighting conditions. It works without thinking because there is simply no time. You just take pictures and catch the moment.

But what if I would like to have control over the light?

And here a Speedlight, flash lamps and other outdoor lamps come to the rescue. Remember that the more equipment, the heavier the weight. And unless this is not a special session for money, where you engage a lot of people to help, it is better to minimize the amount of photo equipment and take basic things. I use the Speedlight to fill the light when I photographing a model in more dark places in shade, f.e. in wood or in the shadow of the buildings. I use Yongnuo Speedlite flash YN568EX II. This Speedlight lamp is light and small, so it is easy to put it into my backpack.




My answer will probably surprise you, well, take the equipment you have. If you are reading this blog, then you are probably a beginner photographer or on a little bit higher level, passionate about photography. It is possible that you are a professional who took a break from the photo retouching. Or you’re just wondering what the world of photography looks like and would like to get some knowledge about how to do photos.

My advice, in the beginning, is to use the phone, go for fresh air, have fun with photography. Try to learn how to frame, and after all, if you still will feel the desire to tick photos and you will be hungry of knowledge, go to my blog and I will help you choose a camera and photographic equipment and show you some pictures and effects that you can achieve.

Outdoor Fashion Portrait Photography
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma Art 85mm – 1/250 sec. f1.4 ISO-100


However, when it comes to cameras, there are many and they are different. I use a full-frame DSR cameraCanon 5d mark II and his young brother Canon 5d mark IV. This camera has a 35 mm photosensitive matrix, i.e. an equivalent photosensitive matrix up to 36 x 24 mm. Behind the full-frame, there are also cameras with cropped matrix, APS-C matrix, e.g. Canon 70d and many others.
You can also choose cameras without mirrors, a mirrorless camera, compact cameras and hybrids.

To be honest, currently, every new camera is good.  Does not matter Canon or Nikon, Sony or Olympus or other. It all is very good. Get the camera you like the most. Try to grab it and feel how it is in your hand – it is very important. If you are a girl, you may consider a smaller camera and more light like Olympus Pen Camera. It looks really nice, very stylish, and the image taken by it is really good. I heard that Sony offers the best quality of the movies you can make by it. The truth is that lenses are more important than a camera`s body. If you want to make sports photography, choose a camera with a faster shutter. I use Canon because I like it.

Different lenses are dedicated to each camera. Lens categories determine their focal length and brightness. We have wide-angle lenses, ideal for landscape photography, portrait lenses and here most often 50mm, 85mm or 135mm. There are a lot of them, depending on the type of photography we take.


“The brightness of the glass” – a lens aperture

Outdoor Fashion Portrait Photography
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma Art 85mm – 1/125 sec. f1.4 ISO-100

The aperture size in the lens is determined by values ​​e.g. f 1.2, f  2.8 or f 4 and other. The smaller the number, the larger the hole, and thus the more light falls on the camera’s matrix. The aperture in the lens determines how much light will come into our camera when taking a photo. Lenses like this can blur a background behind a model and make a beautiful bokeh. The wider the lens, the more expensive it usually is.
I will tell you more about cameras in the next posts in which I will describe how I did my photo sessions. There will be more technical matters. I will tell about shooting techniques, developing photos from RAW files and post-production.

Photographic lamps can be divided into studio and outdoor. They are distinguished by an additional portable battery, thanks to which we do not have to connect the lamp to a power source, as is the case with a studio or home. They are much lighter and more mobile. Each lamp has its own power bank and battery.
Reporter lamps, Flash Speedlight – Speedlite lamp or a reporter flash lamps are small portable lamps, mounted directly on the camera or on a tripod. It is an indispensable source of light for every photo reporter, extremely helpful when illuminating outdoor sessions and as an aid in studio lighting, e.g. backlighting. I use Yongnuo Speedlite flash YN568EX II. This Speedlight lamp is very helpful. The price for this lamp does not kill the budget.




The soft box is a lighting modifier used in photography and filming. Depending on the shape and size, it allows you to change the nature of the lighting of the plan by reducing or eliminating shadows. Telling short, Soft boxes softening the light,. Beauty dish type spotlights used for beauty and portrait photo sessions. Beauty dishes are characterized by the fact that they give a sharp light, unlike the soft light of soft boxes. I will devote separate posts about Beauti dish, showing the magic of harsh light.
The blends are a light reflectors, reflecting sunlight or lamps. Blends are very helpful in shady places where I need to reflect and add more lights to a model.
The Umbrellas that work similarly to softboxes can soften or reflect light. The photographic umbrella is one of the most popular a light modifiers. It takes less space and is very cheap. The umbrella is perfect for photographers at the beginning of the photography journey, but not only. Many of the professional photographers are happy to use it. Every each of the modifiers gives you different control of the light.


Outdoor Fashion Portrait Photography
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma Art 85mm – 1/125 sec. f1.4 ISO-100


“I just wanted to be a photographer.”

Calm down! Take a deep breath and exhale and relax. As I mentioned earlier, it is not about buying the whole store, but about joy and fun with photography. You don’t need all this to get started. However, over time, it will be pure pleasure to buy photographic equipment. With knowledge, you will understand what you need. Real art is not in the equipment but in you. Although it is true that as we grow, the demand for new equipment and the possibilities it offers will be greater. I am also happy to warn you about that. You will enjoy it. 😉




Mostly I use natural sunlight and I support it by my Speedlite Flash lamp. Those photographs have been made in the wood. The light was good, but sometimes not good enough for a model. Shadow arena between trees or shadow on a model`s face did not look ok in this situation. This is why I put my Flash lamp on the tripod around 1,5 m – 2 m from the model and the hight about 1,5 m – 2 m hight – depend on the model`s position and poses. The angle of the Speedlite was 45 degree above the model`s head. The power of the Speedlight was set up on nearly maximum, because of the soft box, that takes stop of the lamp power. I put it on the flash lamp to make the light softer. I also use another lamp to light the background if I need it or to make a backlight and light the model hair from behind her.


Exposure program: Aperture priority or a manual mode?

Well, I use a manual mode and also aperture priority. Do not listen to people who say that a professional photographer must use only manual settings. It is not true. What for a Canon company creates other settings and modes in cameras? It depends on the situation and the lights. When you take pictures with the Aperture Priority mode, you choose the desired f-stop and the camera supplies the proper shutter speed to achieve a properly exposed image. I use it if I want to get a nice Bokeh and blur that background behind the model. This is why you want to buy a lens with f1.2, f1.4 even f1.8 (also telephoto lens like Canon 70-200 f2.8 L can blur nice bokeh it depends of the deep field). This is why it is a waste of money if you do not use it. If you work in Studio, a manual mode

Outdoor Fashion Portrait Photography
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma Art 85mm – 1/800 sec. f1.4 ISO-100

is essential. But making photography outdoor you must remember that the condition of the light changes all the time and using a manual mode you had to change the settings very often and measure the exposition of the light.

Aperture priority helps a lot. I can just concentrate on the model and have fun. Of course, if the light is not good enough I check from time to time what shutter speed it shows me because if it is too low the sharpness of the images can be poor. The model can not freeze all the time 😉

To get better image quality I try to keep the ISO around 100. I put that higher if the shutter speed drops down. Or I use a Speedlight to give more light on the model. I could also use a manual mode when the light condition is more stable and the weather is not changing every minute. Then all I need to do is to control the power of flashlight from my Speedlight. Those two options of the Exposure settings are good. Weddings photographers use aperture priority because there is no time for changing manual mode settings all the time. They need to catch the moment right now, there is no second chance. You better do not mess with a bride!

My Canon 5d Mark II settings of the exposure are about f1,4 to 1,8 it depends on how I want to blur background and what I want to show on my picture. My Sigma Art 85 mm f1.4 gives me a possibility to do that. I try to keep ISO around 100 to get better quality and the shutter speed 1/125 and more to avoid some movement of the models and keep her sharp on the photograph. 

It was supposed to be a short post, but I could talk about photography for hours, so for my first post, I am going to the end. In the next posts, I will focus on the technical form and descriptions of my photo sessions, camera and equipment settings during outdoor sessions and studio shoots in my own comfort at home. So keep an eye on my photography blog and we are in touch. Let the light be with you. 😉

Outdoor Fashion Portrait Photography
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma Art 85mm – 1/320 sec. f1.4 ISO-100

Outdoor Fashion Portrait Photography blog
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma Art 85mm – 1/200 sec. f1.4 ISO-100

Woman Sitting in Forest Meadow Road - Photography blog
Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma Art 85mm – 1/200 sec. f1.4 ISO-100


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