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5 Great Ways to Shoot Gorgeous Portraits in a Park

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You don’t need a fancy studio to shoot a compelling portrait. Just bring your camera and subject to a local park.

Of course, it helps to have some creative ways to use the park as an attractive backdrop to bring out the most in the person you are photographing. That’s where the portrait photography tutorial below comes in.

In the video at the bottom of this post, photographer Pye Jirsa of SLR Lounge shares “five easy concepts for great portraits in any park.”

“With a variety of natural sceneries and backgrounds to work with, an outdoor park can turn into a portrait photographer’s playground,” Jirsa says. “By keeping a lookout for these lighting elements and shooting techniques, you can learn to consistently take perfect portraits in just about any park.”

#1 Backlighting

“What I’m going to do is place [our model] Sabrina right in a spot where ideally I have some backlighting that’s kind of landing on her,” Jirsa says. “My trick to this is having them look at the shadow and making sure that their head is backlit by the sun so they can see their head creating a shadow on the ground.”

#2 Reflector Bump

“This is just the inside scrim of a standard five-in-one reflector. In this case we’re going to use the reflector to add an additional light to the scene and I can do it all myself.”

#3 Open Shade

“I call this open shade because one side is basically shaded, and the other side is completely open. On this side we’re open to the sky, and this is where our light comes in. So we have this really beautiful soft light on the face because the sky is lighting into the shade.”

#4 Compress the Scene

“We’re going to shoot through the grass and compress the scene. What’s going to be awesome about this is we’ll have this foreground of grass that leads up to our subject that’s backlit. Lens-wise, I would suggest something longer because it will allow us to compress.”

#5 Brightest Spot

“The fifth and final technique is shooting into a brighter part of the background and in a park that’s very easy to do. Our eyes are naturally drawn to the brightest part of a frame so what I love to do is place my subject in a spot where I can kind of shoot against a nice bright opening in a park.”

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