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Priceless Pictures of People in the Great Outdoors: Portrait Photography

How to Photograph People in Beautiful Natural Light

by Kerry Drager

Snow Rider in Late-Day Light
Snow Rider in Late-Day Light
© Kerry Drager
All Rights Reserved

Creating Priceless Pictures of People

For a fantastic monthly "lesson" in outdoor portraiture, analyze the portrait images among the BP contest finalists and winners. In addition, consider the following thoughts:

Portrait of Kristin - Overcast
Portrait of Kristin - Overcast
© Kerry Drager
All Rights Reserved


A solid overcast sky acts like a giant white umbrella to cast wonderfully soft and even light - ideal for portraits. But early-morning or late-day sunlight can put your subject in a beautiful warm glow. Also, sidelight or window light can create a striking mood portrait. Harsh, sunny midday? Even up the lighting extremes ... by either filling in the shadows with fill-in flash or a reflector, or by moving your subject completely into the shade.


Full-length photos and head-and-shoulders shots always make for strong images. But don't stop there! Successful portraits also take the form of facial close-ups.

Another option involves the environmental portrait - which shows a subject at work or at play, around the house, or on holiday. The trick to capturing priceless pictures of people in a natural environment? Make sure other elements in the scene don't detract from your star attraction.


Simplicity is often the key word here. But that's not so easy for many visually busy outdoor backdrops. The solution? A narrow depth of field - or selective focus - that features a sharp subject set against a blur of out-of-focus shapes and colors.

Obtain this "selective focus" look with a large aperture (low f/stop number), a fairly close-up subject, and a good distance between subject and background. A telephoto or tele-zoom lens completes this sharp-vs.-blur approach.

Don't miss ... seeing how these and other techniques are put to creative use in BetterPhoto's "Priceless Pictures of People in Natural Light" gallery.

Article by Kerry Drager. To learn more about photography, explore the many online photography and Photoshop classes offered here at

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