You arrive to a session and your surroundings are gorgeous!

The environment is breathtaking and you feel so lucky to be photographing your subject in this beautiful place.

Your client arrives and you get started into your session. Time flies by and before you know it you are waving goodbye and loading up your gear.

Later that day, you go to upload your images. Although you had a good time with your client and you like your images you are frustrated that your photos do not reflect surroundings that you were so impressed by.

Using your environment in your portrait sessions can help to set the mood, tell the story and set the stage for your session. Here is 4 easy tips to incorporate your environment into your portrait sessions!

1. Weather

Using the weather is a great way to set the mood of the session. I like to ask myself these questions:

  1. What makes the viewer FEEL like they were there with your subject? What makes them feel connected to your photo?
  2. Is it so cold you can see your own breath?
  3. Is the sunlight enveloping your subject in a warm soft glow as the sun sets behind the trees?
  4. Is the rain falling on the window as a family sits on their couch reading a book bundled up under a cozy blanket?

Using the weather to your advantage can help convey the mood and make your portrait stand out.

backlit engagement picture by Chloe Ramirez

photograph of a bride and groom in a foggy field by Chloe Ramirez

2. Framing

Where are you shooting? An Urban setting? Country? At your own home? All locations have natural framing elements. As I am shooting I am scanning the background for things I can frame my subjects in. It can be as simple or contrived as you like.

I like to use natural leading lines like a row of tree’s to lead your eye right to my subject. Or I use a window in a building to frame my subjects head in a clean space. I often look in the background to see if there is any natural framing elements like a canopy of tree’s or anything in the landscape I can use to my advantage.

framing your subject with a window picture by Chloe Ramirez

Sometimes framing isn’t as obvious and you need to step in to make a photo more dynamic. I like to shoot through windows, have doors open leading to your subject, shooting through something in the foreground to frame them in that way. You can also use people to frame your subject in. Don’t be afraid to step in and create what you want out of your image.

bride prepping for her wedding by Chloe Ramirez

3. Lens choice

Something as simple as using the right lens can make or break a photo. When looking at your subject and scene ask yourself what are you trying to display? What do you want to standout?

Using a long lens will compress the background and bring it forward.

outdoor maternity portrait by Chloe Ramirez

Where a wide lens can give you the whole scene but the background will appear further away.

maternity photo with a wide lens by Chloe Ramirez

Decide what it is you are trying to highlight and pick your lens accordingly.

photo of couple in a frosted field by Chloe Ramirez

4. Details

Little details help to tell pieces of your subject’s story. Taking the time to capture them and being deliberate in your selection later when blogging can help stitch together the story of your subjects. Maybe it is fall and you are shooting an engagement in the brisk Autumn air. As you are walking you hear the crunch of leaves beneath your feet. Taking a moment to capture the leaves beneath their feet will clue the viewer in to the time of year and mood of the day.

frost covered leaves picture by Chloe Ramirez

marshmallows over a fire by Chloe Ramirez