7 Tips for Capturing Better Environmental Portraits

by | Oct 1, 2021 | Portrait Photography

This is kept number one on the list for a reason. As it is the most significant way to improve environmental portraiture. Photographers, make the mistake of capturing many portraits in tight on the subject’s face. Understand this, tight face shots are beautiful and can be extremely moving in all situations; however, portraits taken outside of a studio or for reasons.

What we are looking for in a portrait is the theme, the color palette, the environment and the person we are photographing. Takeaway: The tighter your face the better the photo.

1. If you didn’t explore the back alleys, you missed the gems.

If there are lots and lots of other photographers around the world taking photos of your property, then that means that they all took your photos, and all of them are better than yours in some way. The back alleys are often overlooked by most because of their somewhat small size and overall unattractive layout. Many photographers (leecere, boudica, beachfront, piers, etc.) usually take views on the 35mm format, while others may shoot in the 20×30 format. However, if all of your photos are of your property with the back alley in the background, then you are a lot less likely to get overtaken by the photographers taking the shots of off the beaten path properties.

From my research with a few photography reading books, there is a huge amount of information about shooting on film and the actual benefits of photography when it comes to an investment property. I highly recommend that you open up a book, especially the “Photography for Real Estate Investors” chapter by Andy Beal. Many seasoned investors have commented that they found many of the pictures in the book to be priceless and invaluable.

2. Shoot the breeze with the tenants.

If you can find a friendly face who doesn’t mind being photographed with their landlord (or a rental property) giving them a call, give it a shot. You may be surprised who will open up and open up about why they are in the neighborhood you are purchasing in. Perhaps they feel more secure with a friend who will know the area than they would with another out of state stranger. You may also get free 🙂 adult beverages. If there is up to $1K in the lease, it might be worth the extra 2 minute conversation to see if you can arrange for a company to give tours to your tenants.

3.Shoot the baseball game.

Baseball is legally defined as prohibited “obstruction of judgment”. This tells us that if you try to walk into a property with a plan or intention to take pictures, and you don’t actually do it, then you likely ran afoul of the law in this case. The reason this works is because “obstruction of judgment” is defined as purposefully hiding something from another person from their knowledge.

Open exposure can be highly effective, so learn to sit facing the largest group and shoot 10-15 group shots. This will help you compose the best picture, build the most story, and will most likely result in making more money doing it.

4.Use the right type of lighting

Even things as simple as walking at a walk can produce better results if you utilize the right type of lighting. I write this by using the technique of using an umbrella as a light source. One lens was always used for wide shots and the other type for close-ups. Because of this I found that I had to shoot in natural light 40-50% of the time, which was cool but brought great results. This technique can also work great for meetings especially if you go for the check-in or simply aim the umbrella at your group.

5.Use tracking shot

As a quality control measure also use a tracking shot. I took this a step further with my business because with my business client I take those client pictures at lead-ins and check ins. I shoot the client pic using a macrobolo lens simply because it’s useful to capture the client’s face and color while taking multiple pictures at the same time.

The use of a speed-light and macrobolo allows you to see in great detail what your subject is doing, which is critical when studying sales presentations. A speed-light with a macrobolo allows you to bring out the nuances of the clothes the person is wearing OR catch the slightest movement sometimes which can be very insightful in understanding their emotion of the moment. Yellow flowers for the fact that you are getting ready to leave, yellow flowers.

Taking tips from the checklist to produce the finest picture possible

6.Hang multiple camera batteries in case of an emergency

Already a must for any photographer on this list, taking this rule an extra step makes it extremely practical. One of my absolute most favorite techniques when shooting multiple people in the same scene is to develop an emergency plan.

I shoot a gross group, i.e. all the male and female models in the same photo. This way you can get multiple shots at each model and while some models can be really hard to get a great shot of, some can’t be touched at all. I’m not talking about badly lit indoor shots. I’m talking about shots of the outside patio where the light never really shines and the environment perfectly so you fatigue the model pretty fast.

What you want them to do is have movement. It goes back to the landscape and the presence of the subject, in and out grapevine movement. Whatever the form it takes, that’s what you want. By natural progression of the vine, you will get all the movement you desire.

Now that everyone is saying it, take me out, I’m catching a bus. Do you see the imperfections? I’m great at camouflage … but I’m still imperfect at being real. This is the reason behind the wingspan, the depth perception, and the depth of field. All of these techniques, if applied properly to really good clients, will prevent doubt, superfluous prompts from your subject and provide all the movement you desire.

7.The Final Superiority

I just want to end with a photo that I took when I was in Venice Beach, CA, a place called South of Market. I wanted to show off how the cityscape is different, now that there is a homeless man on the along the beach, forcing himself into the water due to the inadequate shelter built over the breakwater, next to BB’s Restaurant, which is closed at this time of year (fingers crossed for reopening soon). This was all I could take because of the strict rules on photography in Venice, CA. Unlike other destinations, the sheer number of people and vehicles will not let you take certain photos. You have to check with the towns tourism board about rules and regulations for taking photos. Supposedly, they allow you to take photos of sporting events, but that one was a stretch for me, as I tried to take photos for a local restaurant and they launched an intervention by accusing me of “not respecting their privacy and state”. So that’s not so fun. Anyways, that’s why you always find me in nature, close to my camera, like this moment in LA.

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