A perfect portrait location?

Posted by on Nov 23, 2014 in Techniques, Travel | 0 comments

A perfect portrait location?

“Location, Location, Location”, we hear this phrase used continually when it comes to Real Estate. Quite often photographers get caught up with the same phrase and spend all their time looking for the perfect location. Unfortunately those people are most likely doing themselves a great disservice and will almost certainly be missing out on wonderful opportunities right in front of them.

Obviously in landscape photography, location dictates a lot of what you are going to capture. So you will need to work within those confines in your efforts to make wonderful landscape photo’s (refer my previous blog post – Working a Scene – about ways to do this).

When it comes to portrait photos the photographer is a lot less constrained and should be on the lookout to make the most of every scene. Whilst it would be wonderful to have the perfect location every time we wanted to make a photo, a majority of time it comes down to the photographer to utilize the location that is available and still make something special.

One of our regular workshops is to walk through the city and capture natural light portrait photos, during this workshop we are not only looking for areas of great light we are also looking interesting locations in which to capture these portraits. One of the regular locations we use is shown in the image below, basically we are looking at a tree situated within a roundabout in the middle of the city, a pretty boring location that thousands of people pass without giving a second thought.


Now have a look at the image we were able to make in this location. We have used the site very well and crafted a wonderful portrait.


So what is the key to making the best of a less than ideal location when make a photo?

  • Firstly you need to determine what is good about the location and what is bad. You are then going to try and emphasis the good parts and remove the bad parts from your photo. Success in this endeavor is going to come from the placement of the subject and the way you frame the picture, you may need to change your angle or change your lens.


  • The second element is going to be the light. Getting great light on the subject is crucial to any photo but when dealing with a difficult location it is paramount. With the correct light you will be able to focus the view onto the subject with the background become dramatically less important.


  • Do not be afraid to use trickery. Sometimes just using a small piece of the location in your background is enough to tell a much bigger story and that story does not even need to be related to your location. For example, by positioning the model correctly within the tree in the middle of that roundabout, we have transported the viewer to the middle of a forest.


Whilst every photographer seeks the perfect location those photographers who do well, very quickly realize that we need to make the best of any location. With this realization and the relevant skills under your belt, you may just find that every location is in fact the perfect location.

If you are interested in coming along to Natural Light light portrait workshop and learning some location selection skills check out our workshop page for upcoming dates – Natural Light Portrait Workshop





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