Good environmental portraits inform a narrative. At a look you’ll know one thing concerning the particular person within the image. One of the best environmental portraits will present a whole lot of visible info.

9 Tips for Better Environmental Portraits Kebab Chef in Istanbul

Kebab chef entertaining passers-by along with his fixed banter. Istanbul, Turkey. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Listed here are 9 suggestions that will help you create extra illustrative photos of individuals of their environment.

1. Do your analysis

Know your topic properly. Not simply who they’re, however what they do. If you realize who you’re going to be photographing, do a little analysis and turn out to be knowledgeable about what they do.

At the very least have a dialog and present curiosity in them by asking questions. This won’t solely achieve you perception, however your topic will recognize you’re displaying curiosity in who they’re.

The place they’re situated is necessary too. Know concerning the environment. When you’re undecided, ask questions. Listening to the solutions, chances are you’ll be stunned and be taught stuff you didn’t know. Even if you’re conversant in the realm.

Copper Craftsman 9 Tips for Better Environmental PortraitsCopper Craftsman 9 Tips for Better Environmental Portraits

Copper Craftsman finishes a brand new piece as his father proudly appears on. Istanbul, Turkey. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

2. Pay attention to the setting

Have all of your senses working. Pay attention and watch what’s taking place round. You may even see stuff you wish to embrace or that you simply don’t need in your photos.

Transfer round and take images from totally different locations so that you get various backgrounds.

Attempt to keep away from any shiny lights or different distractions inside your composition. It’s necessary to fill the body solely with what’s related to the story you’re telling.

9 Tips for Better Environmental Portraits Mandalay Market Vendor9 Tips for Better Environmental Portraits Mandalay Market Vendor

A vendor at Mandalay’s Ghost Prepare Market, Myanmar. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

3. Inform their story

When you’ve chatted for some time, or not less than noticed keenly, inform their story.

Think about what’s going to talk most visually concerning the particular person, the place they’re and what they’re doing. That is the entire nature of environmental portraits.

Are they a quiet and reserved form of particular person? Or are they a loud and boisterous character? Some individuals change after they get in entrance of a digicam.

In the event that they’ve been chatting away in an animated method and freeze once you level your digicam at them, it’s your job to assist them loosen up. Frozen is just not who they naturally are.

9 Tips for Better Environmental Portraits Tricycle Taxi Rider9 Tips for Better Environmental Portraits Tricycle Taxi Rider

Tricycle taxis in Thailand are known as Samlor, which interprets as ‘three wheels. The riders benefit from the camaraderie the job brings. ©Kevin Landwer-Johan

4. Join together with your topic

I do know that is tough for many individuals. The extra you’ll be able to join together with your topic, the higher images you’ll get.

Nice dialog builds confidence in individuals you wish to {photograph}. They are going to be extra occupied with what you’re doing and compliant if you happen to present curiosity in them.

Generally you’ll wish to give your topic some directions to assist the composition. When you’ve already related with them they are going to be extra receptive to your concepts.

9 Tips for Better Environmental Portraits Moken Sea Gypsie9 Tips for Better Environmental Portraits Moken Sea Gypsie

This Moken sea gypsy was telling us tales of how he misplaced a part of his arm in a fishing accident within the south of Thailand. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

5. Know your digicam

Your topic is more likely to lose curiosity in what’s taking place if all they see is the highest of your head as you peer down at your digicam.

Preset your digicam so you realize the settings shall be proper. Do that as quickly as potential so you should have time to focus on speaking together with your topic and different necessary issues.

Examine that you’ve got the greatest lens for the job in your digicam able to go.

9 Tips for Better Environmental Portraits Hmong Amputee9 Tips for Better Environmental Portraits Hmong Amputee

Hmong hill tribe man who’s an amputee after having his leg blown off by a land mine on the Laos/Thailand border © Kevin Landwer-Johan

6. Make a deliberate alternative of lens

Displaying the environment is necessary. So is speaking together with your topic if you are working.

In case you have a telephoto lens in your digicam, you’ll should place your self a good distance out of your topic to incorporate sufficient of their setting.

With a medium to huge lens on you might be shut sufficient and in addition embrace extra of the setting. I like utilizing my 35 mm f/1.4 lens on a full-frame physique for environmental portraits. It permits me to be shut sufficient to converse comfortably and nonetheless present a good quantity of background.

Watch out if you’re utilizing a lens a lot wider than 35mm as you’ll be vulnerable to distorting your topic.

Shan Waitress 9 Tips for Better Environmental PortraitsShan Waitress 9 Tips for Better Environmental Portraits

Shan waitress poses for a portrait on the entrance to the small roadside restaurant she works in close to Mandalay, Myanmar. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

7. Management your depth of discipline

Ensuring there’s enough element seen within the composition is necessary.

When you’re a fan of taking images together with your aperture huge open, chances are you’ll not make the perfect environmental portraits. Blurring out the background an excessive amount of won’t assist you to convey info.

Select an aperture which gives a steadiness between too blurred and too sharp and distracting. Keep away from extremes. This may assist maintain the primary focus in your topic and improve the story with what else is round them.

9 Tips for Better Environmental Portraits Akha Coffee Harvest9 Tips for Better Environmental Portraits Akha Coffee Harvest

Akha lady harvesting espresso in north Thailand. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

8. Make good use of props

There’s not all the time a chance to utilize props, however if you happen to can they’ll make a big effect.

Having your topic maintain one thing important can add to the story.

This Lahu man is a superb topic on his personal and I’ve photographed him many occasions throughout our workshops. He likes to smoke tobacco in his bong, which provides much more visible curiosity and tells us extra about him.

9 Tips for Better Environmental Portraits Lahu Smoker9 Tips for Better Environmental Portraits Lahu Smoker

Lahu Ethnic Minority man enjoys smoking tobacco in his bamboo bong close to Chiang Mai, Thailand. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

9. Write good captions

caption will present added element that you could be not be capable to clearly convey in your photograph. Informative captions assist maintain individuals’s curiosity by additional stimulating their imaginations.

Supply a little bit extra details about the particular person. That is one other good cause to have interaction with them whilst you’re photographing them.

When you’re not clear on what to write down, search the web.

Just lately I watched this documentary concerning the photographer Dorothea Lange. She is most well-known for her work within the midwest USA throughout the Nice Melancholy. The documentary emphasizes the necessity for the well-written captions she offered along with her images.

9 Tips for Better Environmental Portraits Sea Gypsy9 Tips for Better Environmental Portraits Sea Gypsy

Moken sea gypsy fisherman biding his time on the bow of his boat ready for a catch. © Kevin Landwer-Johan


Not all of the following pointers could also be related every time you make environmental portraits. Make use of as lots of them as you’ll be able to to reinforce your pictures expertise.

Make your self a guidelines with the following pointers and any others you’ll be able to consider. Seek the advice of your record as you put together to make your subsequent sequence of portraits. This may assist you to develop as a photographer.

In case you have another useful tricks to supply about taking nice environmental portraits, please embrace them within the feedback beneath.

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