5 Tips for Great Outdoor Photos

Great outdoor photosToday I am so excited to introduce a new series of photography basics that we created in collaboration with Kelli Trontel. We had so much fun developing these ten articles that cover many of the basic questions that people ask me all the time! We look forward to sharing a few photography posts each week for the next month!  

Sun vs. shade1. Look For Shade The sunshine is the most gorgeous natural light source, but depending on the style of shot I am going for, especially in the middle of the afternoon where the sun is throwing harsh light and shadows on my subject, I look for shade. Not just any shade, but shade that is close to a light source. For example, my subject is in the shade, but right in front of my subject is a sidewalk that the sun is shining on. This will bounce light, even into shady places. Stepping inside a shadow from a wall or building will give you an opportunity to capture flattering images of your subject, while still benefitting from the sunlight that is all around you. See the photo above for a perfect example of what one step into a shadow can do for your photos! 
Natural reflector

2. Use Your Environment As A Natural Reflector One of my favorite techniques is utilizing my environment to reflect beautiful light on my subject. This comes in handy, especially in situations where I do not have a friend on location with me to hold a reflector, when needed. As I look for the perfect location, I am also looking for a light colored wall (usually painted white) directly across from where I would shoot. This opposite wall will then be used as a reflector! Having this extra punch of "light" on my subject automatically brightens the eyes and cast a beautiful glow to the skin. There are many things that I look for in a location- not only is the actual backdrop important, but the environment around me, which plays a vital role in the overall outcome of my images. Here's an example of a photo taken oppostite a large white wall...
Natural reflector 2

Natural reflector 3
See how pretty the light looks on her skin? This is one my favorite secret tricks for capturing beautiful skin tones! 
Magic hour

3.  Magic Hour There's something so magical about the glowing light that the sun produces at certain hours of the day. When I have a scheduled photo shoot, I always to try to shoot one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset, also known as the "Magic Hour". Of course this isn't always the case, but "Magic Hour" is a special time of day where everything is just right! During these times the sun is low in the sky, which produces a soft light which is so much more flattering than the harsh midday sun.  This golden light is so fun to play and experiment with- this would be a great time to capture some pretty sun flare as the sun is setting. One thing to keep in mind while shooting during "magic hour" is how fast the light changes- you definitely want to factor in any set up time to ensure you take advantage of the this short, but sweet light.
See the potential?

Location-small

4. Don't Judge A Location By It's Environment This is like the saying "don't judge a book by it's cover"....same concept. You can certainly find a gem of a location in the roughest looking building, if you look for it. I used to drive around and wait for that "perfect" location to jump out at me, but I've learned to see past the obvious after a few of my favorite images came from a location that I took a chance on and looked to find the "interesting" and "beauty" in it. Choosing a location with diversity is key. Choosing a location truly brings out the inner artists- it's definitely something that can be learned if strengthened and utilized often. When you are looking for locations, like the example above, keep your eyes peeled for beautiful details. The entire building may not be something you would use, but sometimes you just need a small wall, sign or doorway to create the perfect photo! 
Back lighting

5. Backlighting- Making It Work The perfect lighting situation doesn't always exist when we need it, but it's a strength to be able to make any situation for work for you. When the shade cannot be found, another technique is to use your light source to backlight your subject. To do this, place your subject directly in front of the sun...and by this I mean their back  is to the sun! This will produce a different style of image, but having light leak through their body, especially the hair, is so pretty. The background will be bright and your subject will pop from the photo! 
We hope you've enjoyed these tips! Check back soon for more photography tips + tricks! xoxo. Elsie, Emma + Kelli 

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