Portrait-Lady-Hair-Blowing

Choosing the right location

Carefully selecting your location can be hugely beneficial to the smooth running of your shoot and the pictures you produce.

Prior knowledge of your location can help enormously. If possible choose a familiar location to shoot in or make a scouting visit to familiarise yourself with the area.

What you include, or rather exclude, from the background of your image can hugely improve your portrait photography. Backgrounds should never detract from the subject so avoid shooting into bright colours or lights that are going to be clearly visible in the picture, also watch out for signs, lamp posts or anything that might stand out and cause distraction.

Portrait-Lady-Hair-BlowingWind, Ms Jovana Rikalo

See how photographer Jovana Rikalo has selected a background without colour or feature for her dreamy portrait. What looks like dense trees also provides the perfect colour backdrop allowing the model's hair colour to contrast with the deep greens behind. Jovana has also allowed good distance between her subject and backdrop to further blur detail there.

Portrait-Boy-SmileMagical, Thomas Fűhser

Although Thomas’ image has quite a busy background, he/she has done a great job disguising it by blurring the background sufficiently so it doesn’t distract from the subject. Selecting a wide aperture (small f/ number) is one way to blur out your background and provide separation from your subject.

As well as reducing distractions selecting the right location can add real context and further interest to your portraits. Balancing location with a human subject, environmental portraits such as this can be used to tell a story of the subject and their surroundings.

Portrait-Man-SubwayAshphalt Warrior, Ms Elodie Croquet

This image by Elodie Croquet is a very intriguing environmental portrait that uses the location to suggest a wider issue or story. The image provides context to the subject and poses questions to the viewer about his life and surroundings. Shot indoors with only artificial lighting, this image would not have been as effective if the environment has been excluded.

Portrait-Girl-Leaves-AutumnVivien, Mrs Aleksandra Sempruch

This seasonal portrait by Aleksandra Sempruch also makes great use of the environment. She has positioned the subject in the centre of the frame surrounded by autumn colours; a very pleasing composition. Note also the very relaxed pose and the natural gaze away from the camera, clearly Aleksandra has worked hard to consider all the elements of this photograph.

Canon’s portrait lenses are designed to help you take portraits that standout from their backgrounds, all available in the Canon Store.

Stay Informed

Coming next: Seeing the world without a viewfinder.

Subscribe to Newsletter