A photo shoot on the street in the warm season is a great option for beginners. You can call friends and train without spending money on renting a studio and without thinking about time limits. But where to start? How to prepare for outdoor photography? What equipment will be needed?
We share life hacks that will help you prepare for an outdoor photo shoot and get spectacular shots.
Preparing for an outdoor photo session
In order for the photo shoot to look spectacular and holistic, the shooting needs to be thought out in advance. For plein air work, this is especially true, because you cannot run to the dressing room in the photo studio and ask, for example, for additional props. We’ll tell you where to start.
Decide on an idea
You can start from different things — the unusual appearance of the model, location, found props or the desire to work with a certain color, light or genre.
For example, an albino girl can be photographed in a sculptor’s workshop, among white statues, or go into contrast and shoot a motley studio filled with details. Or maybe you will find an abandoned church and want to make a mystical shooting with candles there?
The main thing is to clearly define what result is needed, discuss it with the model and formulate the idea, best of all in writing. This will help not to spread out and narrow down the further search for props, locations, clothes.
Build it yourself and ask the model for references
References can be your past photo shoots or shootings of other photographers, drawings, art, screenshots from clips or films, paintings. Collected samples will help you get inspired, find new ideas and avoid mistakes that other authors could make. References can also be found on image aggregators like Pinterest.
Want to take a photo shoot with a fern? So write in the search — a photo shoot with a fern. Interesting references for sure! Or maybe a curly red-haired girl with freckles is coming to your photo session? And for this type on the Internet there will be ideas!
Think over the image and find the location
Sometimes the shooting location is chosen according to the clothes and appearance of the model, and sometimes the location gives rise to associations, under which they are looking for everything else. The main thing is that one fits and complements the other, or enters into a thoughtful contrast.
If your ideas and references are not enough to create the desired look, use the services of a stylist, and also take a look at our shooting styling guide.
Gather props and accessories
With the right image and props, even the simplest location works to create an atmospheric shot. Sometimes you need to buy or rent it, but often the most ordinary things that have already become so familiar in everyday life that no one pays attention to them will do.
Maybe it’s a dried bouquet of flowers that has been standing for a couple of months? Old book? A half-burned candle? Mirror inherited from grandma? A shabby vintage suitcase? The little things always make a shoot come alive.
Do you want a soft look? Rent a translucent dress with flowing sleeves and a long hem, go to the flower field and add a wreath woven from fresh flowers. Need a witch? Rent the appropriate look from a carnival costume rental, add a skull/broom/candlestick with vintage-style black candles you rented or bought from an online store and go to the ruins found on the outskirts of the city or the gloomy forest of spring/autumn forest, when there are no leaves on the trees anymore .
This will help you feel confident on the set, because you will understand what angles and poses you need. It will also make it easier to work with the model — there will be no awkward pauses when you are on the go trying to understand what your client should do next. The nervousness and uncertainty of the photographer is felt and transferred to the model.
You don’t need to be an artist — schematically (literally with lines) depict how the hands will be located; large, medium or long-range plan you take; the model will stand, sit or lie down.
What equipment and photographic equipment to take for shooting on the street
After a detailed study of the idea, it’s time to assemble all the necessary equipment. Sometimes for a photo shoot you need to go far out of town, so you need to take things to the maximum.
For shooting at dusk and at night, a fast lens (f / 2.8 or less) is indispensable. Long-focus will help you get a good portrait even at a great distance. For example, if you are photographing across the road or on the other side of a small river. A wide-angle lens captures a lot of space in the frame, allowing you to reveal the mood and character of the hero through the environment.
Take at least 1–2 spare batteries with you. This is especially true for beginners, for whom, due to inexperience, shooting can take several hours.
It will help soften shadows when shooting on a sunny day, add light to shadowy areas, and can also serve as a diffuser. Read about how to work with a reflector in the text.
- Waterproof case
Use a waterproof case to protect your camera from rain, snow, and splashes. It is also suitable for underwater photography. If you are photographing near a pond in the summer, and the model is not averse to getting into the water, why not try it?
The lens hood will help protect the camera from direct sunlight entering the lens, which is harmful to the camera. On the other hand, often photographers allow the sun to get into the frame a little to get spectacular blowouts and rays.
It may be necessary if you are experimenting with long exposures, shooting in low light conditions — night, twilight, wee hours.
It will help to set the correct white balance. What is white balance, how to adjust it, read the material.
- Convenient photo backpack
A very important element that beginners forget about. In a thoughtful photo backpack, you can place lenses without fear for their safety, it is convenient to attach a tripod. Also there are often special pockets for small items — memory cards, batteries. Shooting outdoors usually involves the photographer taking a lot of things and equipment with them.
If, when shooting in the city, you can still quickly run into the nearest photo store and buy a card, then when shooting in a forest or field, this will not work. The cards weigh only a couple of grams, but you can capture whatever you want. How to choose a memory card, read the text.
Outdoor and plein air photo shoot — ideas and life hacks
A photo shoot on the street and open air is essentially the same thing — it’s shooting outdoors. Only in the first case, we photograph in the city, among the buildings, and in the second — in nature, placing the model in a “wild” environment. We share tips on what to pay attention to in each of the situations and how to get the most spectacular and atmospheric photos.
Top 10 tips for shooting on the streets of the city and in nature
- Let the model interact with the urban space
We are not talking about creative shots where a person “pushes” a building or holds it in the palm of his hand — let’s leave this in the past. But the hero of the shooting can “live” in the frame — run under a canopy to hide from the rain, wait for transport at a bus stop or a soulmate who is late for a date. All this can help to turn what is happening in the picture into a story, which will add a cinematic frame.
- Use the light around
Lanterns, neon signs, advertising panels, light falling from the windows of cafes or shops — any urban lighting can be used to get atmospheric shots and an interesting black and white pattern.
- Find and study places for a photo shoot on the street in advance
Almost any city can be very different — somewhere there will be a glass new building for business portraits and fashion shoots, in the center you are likely to come across old buildings where gentle female portraits and love stories will look good, and on the outskirts you can always find some some old garages for a photo shoot in the aesthetics of the 90s. You will feel more confident, and the shooting will be visually coherent, and you will find and study the locations in advance.
- Get off the beaten “tourist” routes
Yes, you can always find an interesting angle and beat what is happening in the frame, but why repeat yourself? Sometimes an inconspicuous courtyard can look much more spectacular in the frame than a well-known landmark that people have seen hundreds of times.
- Notice the details
Reflections in glass and puddles, bunnies reflected from shiny surfaces, light falling through the grating of a city fence — all this will make the frame interesting. The main thing is to notice in time.
- Be prepared for weather changes and have a contingency plan
Sudden rain, snow, or partly cloudy weather when you were expecting a cloudy sky can make shooting difficult if you don’t prepare for the unexpected ahead of time. In case of a cold snap in autumn or spring, take a thermos, for shooting in rain or snow — an umbrella, a regular bag or a waterproof case (read the text for how to photograph during bad weather). It is also a good option to take several images for the model so that the appearance of the hero matches the atmosphere in the frame.
- Take props
If the model is inexperienced, she may not know how to interact with space and her body, how to place her hands. To distract a person, inspire confidence and add integrity to the frame, the appropriate props will help.
- Don’t skimp on the “special effects”
This is especially true if you are shooting outdoors where there are no people. Light a fire, build a torch, use smoke bombs, pyrotechnics, sparklers, artificial snow — all this will make the photo session more effective. But don’t forget safety precautions.
- Avoid direct sun
Direct sun at noon. For many photographers, this sounds like a death sentence, as it produces harsh, rough shadows and makes the model squint. But this can be avoided! Go into the shade of trees in the open air and into the shade of buildings in the city. Place the model under awnings and roofs. If this does not help, use a reflector or artificial light.
Shoot in “mode time” to get soft and warm light. This is a conditional hour at dawn or sunset, when the sun just rises or falls below the horizon.
- Think about color
Thinking over the image, props and combining it with a suitable location is not always enough. Pay attention to the combination of colors of the model’s clothing and location. Play on similarity or, on the contrary, on contrast. For example, if you are photographing near a bright graffiti on the street, the image can be just as rich and daring. Or will you go the opposite way and prefer neutral, concise colors?