Outdoor portrait photography tips

Natural light is an abundant source of light and is available for free. One of the most popular genres shot using natural light is portrait photography. In this discussion, we shall look at a few tips on how to shoot outdoor portrait photography.

Best time to shoot portrait photography

Golden hour is the best time to shoot portrait photography. Portrait photography is best shot using a diffused light that produces soft or no shadows. In that sense, golden light is handy because even though the light isn’t diffused, it’s warm, not harsh, and produces beautiful hues that produce fantastic results. Also, this is the time of the day when you can experiment with backlit portraits without or without external light.

Overcast conditions are also a great time to shoot portraits. This is because the light is soft and produces very few shadows.

Continuous or single-shot autofocus?

Sometimes photographers find it difficult to choose between single-shot or continuous autofocus. As the name suggests, single-shot autofocus acquires focus once, and then if your subject moves or your hands move, it doesn’t require focus. This can become a problem when shooting portraits of children or pets.

Autofocusing for pets and children or for any subject where it’s moving around is the best shot using the continuous autofocusing mode. What is the continuous autofocusing mode?

In this mode, as long as you keep the shutter release half-depressed, the camera will continue to acquire and re-acquire focus. For example, if your hands move or the subject changes position, and you reposition your camera, it will re-acquire focus.


Catchlight is that tiny spec of light that appears on the eyes of the subject when you photograph them. It is the reflection of the key light in the scene. For example, if you’re photographing an issue facing the golden hour sun, the catchlight will reflect the sun’s reflection on their eyes. On the other hand, if you use a reflector to fill in the shadows of a subject while the sun is overhead, the bright reflector’s reflection on the subject’s eyes creates a beautiful catchlight.

A catchlight adds a need for life in a portrait image. Without the catchlight, a subject appears dark and sinister, almost devilish. Compare two images side by side. One with a catchlight and one without the catchlight. Which one do you think you like the better?

Use a fast aperture

When shooting portraits, try and use a fast aperture. A fast aperture denotes an aperture of f/2.8 or faster (or wider). A fast aperture will create a shallow depth of field, and the background and the foreground will be blurred out, creating what we call in photography subject separation from the background.

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