Photographs taken in nature make for some of the most visually stunning portraits. However, since many of us are used to shooting indoors, in a controlled setting, learning how to capture great portraits in nature can take some adjustment.
Here are our 10 best portrait photography in nature ideas to help you get the most incredible nature portraits ever!
1. Include Flowers
Depending on the time of year and the specific location, flowers may be fairly abundant in nature. This is useful if you want to have a bright and colorful background for your nature portrait photography.
When including flowers in your nature portraits, try experimenting with different types of lighting. For example, we have found that backlighting makes flowers look very defined since it brings out the detail, such as the veins in the leaves.
If you know you definitely want flowers in your portraits, you may want to plan ahead of time, since the availability of certain flowers varies according to the time of year.
2. Incorporate Trees
Just as flowers can add a lot to nature portraits, trees can be an excellent way to add interesting shapes, depth, and lighting to your photographs.
The sun shining through tree canopies can create unique, mottled lighting. This light and shadow will fall on your subject and result in artistic-looking photographs.
You don’t have to rely solely on the lighting effects from tree canopies to make trees interesting features of your portraits, though.
Try to find some interesting-looking trees that create unusual angles or that solidify the frame of your photograph. Have your subject interact with the tree by leaning against it or even sitting in it.
3. Wait For Rainfall
Traditionally, portrait photography involves avoiding anything that might impact the appearance of the subject, such as wind or rain. However, you can definitely use rainfall to your advantage when it comes to portrait photography in nature.
Rainfall will have the effect of making your portraits more dramatic and artistic. Since rain is often accompanied by wind, you can also take advantage of the movements of leaves, branches, flowers, and other aspects of nature as the weather impacts them.
Adjust the settings on your camera to a faster shutter speed and a larger aperture. This will ensure that you can capture individual raindrops as they fall.
4. Take Advantage Of Golden Hour
Golden hour is indisputably one of the best times of day to take photographs outdoors, and that includes portraits in nature.
During golden hour, you’ll get softer light for your pictures. Soft lighting is typically much more flattering compared to harsher lighting, and this is perfect for portraits.
For example, golden hour makes blemishes appear less noticeable and makes all skin complexions glow.
However, it’s also ideal for capturing nature at its best. As the sun gets lower in the sky, the sky’s colors appear both brighter and softer, and you get longer shadows that add more depth and intensity to the landscape.
5. Photograph After Dark
Nature photography doesn’t have to take place during daylight hours! While the golden hour is definitely a great time to take portraits in nature, you can also get some pretty magical-looking portraits in nature after dark.
If you decide to take nature portraits after sunset, try to choose a clear night where you can see the moon and the stars.
To make sure you can see the subject of your portrait clearly as well as the stars, you should turn down your aperture as low as possible and boost your ISO.
It might also be helpful to slow down your shutter speed to let more light into the lens, but it’s best to use a tripod and ensure that your subject is very still if you choose to do this.
6. Experiment With Depth Of Field
When taking portrait photographs in nature, it can be tempting to try and make sure that everything is in focus, including the background. After all, you’re shooting in nature because you want to be able to see nature in your pictures, right?
With that being said, we encourage you to experiment with your depth of field and focus when snapping portraits in nature.
You can try blurring the background, which will keep all the colors while putting more focus on the subject, or even focusing more on the background than the subject for artistic effect.
7. Think About Clothing And Props
Putting some thought into the clothing your subject is wearing and any props you might want to use will take your nature portraits to the next level.
One of the reasons many portrait photographers love to shoot in nature is the colors the natural world has to offer. So, why not make an effort to complement these colors with clothing?
Props can also be used as a way to complement the colors in your natural background. However, they are also an effective way to add a theme or ambiance to your shots.
For example, having your subject holding a book in a natural setting creates an idyllic atmosphere. Meanwhile, a rustic, worn-looking chair for your subject to sit on in nature will get people thinking about the story behind the photograph.
8. Combine Natural And Man-Made
Portrait photography in nature can also feature some man-made objects or items. Don’t feel like you need to shoot somewhere completely isolated from the modern world.
After all, we are all a combination of nature and modernity, so featuring this balance in your photographs is a great way to symbolize this.
Examples include abandoned buildings in otherwise natural settings, windmills, and telephone lines.
9. Shoot From Above Or Below
Don’t be afraid to try out different angles. Each different angle you experiment with is an opportunity to
For example, if you’re shooting in a forest setting, shooting from above will allow you to capture leaves on the forest floor, whereas shooting from below will allow you to capture the canopy of leaves overhead.
10. Get Animals Involved
Capturing wildlife in your nature portrait photography is easier said than done. However, if you can manage it, animals can add a lot to your images.
Examples of animals you might come across in a natural setting include insects such as bees and butterflies (see also “How To Photograph Dragonflies“). You are also likely to encounter birds. Depending on where you live, you might see snakes, foxes, or countless other animals.
If it is safe to do this, you could ask your subject to interact with wildlife, or you could simply try to use a fast shutter speed to get them in the frame.
Of course, there’s also the option of including pets such as dogs in your nature portrait photography (see also “How To Photograph Dogs“).
Portrait photography in nature is a type of photography that gives you plenty of options and opportunities to get creative.
Whether you want to take glowing photographs at golden hour, experiment with shade from trees, or create magical-looking images in the light of the stars, nature provides you with the lighting and backgrounds you need.
Remember, depending on the natural lighting conditions you’re working with, you may need to change your camera settings, especially the ISO and aperture.
Since few things in nature are completely stationary, you may also need to be prepared to adjust your shutter speed.