Five keys to finding the perfect portrait location

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A vital aspect of portrait photography is picking the ideal location. Your choice will determine the kind of props and lighting to take, clothes your model will wear, and the poses to use. 

Shooting with a plain background in a studio is a common choice, but can be very expensive. You can usually get very interesting, engaging pictures by using your imagination and not so familiar locations. 


It is very easy to select a location based on your convenience. For instance, if you live near a park, you might be tempted to use it as your default location for shooting. It may look attractive, but may not always be the best option. 

Remember that every model is unique and has their personality. This is what makes every individual interesting, something you should pay attention to and try to capture in every picture you take.

Selecting the perfect location is an integral part of this. They will feel calm, relaxed, and help you capture natural-looking shots. 


Most professional portrait photographers prefer to shoot in natural lighting. If possible, you should choose a bright location which offers a lot of natural light. When you shoot, remember to avoid direct midday sun as it produces harsh shadows.

Look for shade such as a covered seating area or overhanging tree where the sunlight is softer. Best bet is to shoot in the evening or the morning. 

 If you plan on taking an indoor shoot, try positioning your subject close to a large window to make the best use of the natural light. 


When you are planning an outdoor portrait shoot, make sure you put everything into consideration, especially the weather. Sometimes you have to hope that everything stays dry, but just in case you should always have a backup if the weather turns bad.  

Your choice of location should be one that has a shelter nearby, such as a cafe or bridge. These can indeed save the day in the case of a downpour, keeping you, your equipment, and your model dry. If there is a downpour, you could even shift your shoot to a covered place.

With an open -shelter, you can restructure your shot with a natural background behind your model as long as you have good lighting. 


Crowded places, like public parks, cities, markets are among the worst places to have a portrait shoot. There are a lot of distractions, and you will keep answering questions from passers-by or even have to wait countless times for people to move out of frame. Your model may also feel self-conscious, and this may cause them not to relax and be free. 

Finding a quiet location is not as hard as it seems. If you must shoot in a crowded environment, move a few yards away and find a spot that you can shoot undisturbed. 

But if you can, avoid the cities altogether and head to remote beaches, fields and woodland. These give your shoot a great background and allows you and your model freely move around and try out different poses.


A good location is essential in portrait photography, but always ensure it does not overshadow your scene. Check your pictures from time to time to see if nothing is interfering with your shoot. 

A practical and straightforward technique is to open your lens’s aperture up wide and nice. This prevents the background from being distracting by putting it out of focus.

It creates a sense of depth in the scene and draws the attention of the viewer’s eye to the main subject.

It takes a lot of effort to choose the perfect location for a portrait shoot, but it is something you should always make sure you get right. When you have this in place;

you will be able to capture the essence of your model’s personality and tell a story with your photos. This will result in amazing and engaging images.

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