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Outdoor headshot tips

Outdoor headshots - a combination of natural light and technical excellence...

What is an outdoor headshot photo?

An outdoor headshot photo is a photo taken of someone against a natural background (e.g., sky, grass).

In photography, headshots are images that highlight a person's face or facial features. They can be captured with the subject facing the camera directly or from a three-quarter view, in which you can see one of their eyes, nose, and mouth.

Are outdoor headshots professional?

Professional headshots are photographed in a studio setting, but outdoor headshots can be done professionally by following specific guidelines.

The main difference is that indoor headshots are usually taken in a studio setting with a plain backdrop. Outdoor headshot photography set-ups can range from a simple look with natural light to something more complex, such as using multiple lights and reflectors.

Types of outdoor headshots

Headshot images can range from casual snapshots where you don't see much of your outfit to a formal portrait with a stylish suit or dress.

While it's always best to have a professional take your outdoor headshots, you can still get a great picture without spending too much money. If you are not afraid to get outside of your comfort zone, let the natural light work for you.

Where outdoor headshots are taken

You can shoot an outdoor headshot almost anywhere outdoors. Common places include parks or fields, but you can also take them on the beach or at a garden center to highlight the greenery surrounding the subject's face.

What makes a great outdoor headshot?

Great outdoor headshots are made with the subject's face front and center in the image. The background should be mostly blurred out or white to make sure the focus is on the person, not what they're looking at.

What gear do I need for outdoor headshot photography?

The best tools for photographing an outdoor headshot are a DSLR camera that works best with the lighting you'll find outdoors. You don't need to include a lot of gear, but you should bring along a tripod and an external flash for your camera just in case there isn't enough natural light.

Who should take outdoor headshots?

Professional models are the most common subjects for outdoor headshots.

Businesses also use them to market their products and services, and celebrities regularly have outdoor headshots taken to promote themselves.

Outdoor headshots are a great way for anyone looking for high-quality photos of their face to look professional without breaking the bank on studio photography or because they want a different look from the classic studio setting.

When should I take outdoor headshots?

You can take outdoor headshots any time of the year. A popular time for outdoor headshots is when the light is most flattering and when there's still a bit of light left in the day during golden hour:

How do I take outdoor headshots?

The best way to take outdoor headshots is to have a photographer guide you. They can also help you understand where the best places in your community are for taking headshot photos and how to pose for them.

If you want to take your outdoor headshots but don't know where to start, find someone with experience or a photography class you can take.

10 Outdoor headshot tips

1. Use daylight to your advantage

Even using your camera's flash, natural light always looks better in outdoor headshots.

2. Sun on subject’s back if too strong

If possible, have the sun at your subject's back so they're not squinting or covering their eyes while you take the photo. This creates a beautiful backlighting effect that will create a rim light on the subject's hair.

3. Use a light reflector

If there's no natural light where you want to take your headshots, bring a large reflector to bounce light back onto your subject.

4. Keep your lens clean

Make sure nothing is obscuring your lens so it can capture the best possible images of your subject.

5. Work with a tripod

If possible, use a tripod to keep your shots steady and free of camera shake. When you don't have one, rest your camera on a solid object for the same benefit.

6. Lighting gear

To capture outdoor headshots that look great even in low light without using flash, bring an external flash with some lighting gear to keep your subject well-lit and looking their best.

7. Take lots of photos

Shoot many outdoor headshots and choose the best ones after you're done taking them. Don't forget to take photos of multiple angles, too.

8. Watch your backgrounds

Ensure there's nothing behind your subject so they stand out more than what's around them. Don't use wide shots that show too much of the surroundings, either.

9. Use two-thirds lighting

Two-thirds lighting is one of the most common outdoor portrait styles. This style provides more light on the side of your face that's closest to your main light source (usually the sun), and less light on the opposite side of your face.

To do this, find a spot with open shade (no shadows) and stand with the sun directly over one shoulder. This should provide you with an outdoor headshot with beautiful light on the side of your face closest to the sun.

10. Use sunflare creatively

To get a headshot with sun flare, you must have another person take a photo of you while standing in front of bright light. It doesn't have to be the sun itself, but a light in your background should produce a nice effect.

Using sun flares has to be done sparingly, and you don't want to go overboard, or it will detract from the subject.

We hope you enjoyed this guide on outdoor headshots. This guide is also a part of our Headshot Photography Hub, so be sure to check that out for further headshot photography tips and insights.

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