If you use a studio for your portrait photography, then the seasons don’t matter. But if you venture outside, you must take the environment into consideration, and one of the primary environmental factors is the season. Don’t ignore the season; embrace it. This article discusses how to take advantage of the season.
For many, spring is a favorite season. You are coming out of the cold doldrums of winter, and the world is waking up again. As a photographer, this means you are just beginning to get some greenery for your backgrounds, and most importantly, those spring flowers.
Don’t allow those bright yellow jonquils or red and purple tulips overpower your subject, but a touch of color in the background, out of focus, can add some interest to your image. Or use a curving bed of spring flowers to create leading lines toward the subject. Also, be aware of the light falling on your subject. Those trees, just budding new spring leaves can produce a distracting dappled light on your subject. Move to full shade or use a diffuser to soften the light.
Summer should provide you with full shade under those oak trees to give you lovely open shade. As with spring, be aware of dappled light and make sure you have full, consistent shade on your subject. Be mindful of the heat and shoot late in the day, or even better early in the morning before the heat builds up. Use a stand-in to dial in your exposure and composition before bringing your subject onto the set. Nothing can ruin hair and makeup quicker than high temperatures and humidity.
Autumn is probably the best time to shoot. You still have plenty of cover overhead to provide open shade, but there are also plenty of colors to give you warm backgrounds. Just be aware of plants and trees that lose their leaves early. Find a spot with plenty of green grass under a large tree that hasn’t lost its leaves. Take advantage of the golden hour late in the day, include plenty of fall color and make those images pop.
Many photographers move inside during the winter, but there are still some environmental shots you can take advantage of. The cold, stark nature of winter landscapes lends itself to black and white photography. Dress your model in clothes that give a good contrast and shoot for black and white. This doesn’t mean to set your camera to black and white. Always shoot color. You will have more control with tones and contrast in post-processing. Also, if you are shooting in snow, you will need to use exposure compensation to get the snow looking white. Remember your camera always wants to shoot neutral grey.
If you shoot portraits outside, and you should, don’t just shoot the same scenes year around. Take advantage of the seasons and bring some variety to your imagery.