Environmental Portraiture

Last week we talked a little about Portraiture and this week we will further our discussion to a specific type of Portraiture. What the heck is Environmental Portraiture?? Environmental portraiture means a Portrait that tells a story by including the surrounding environment in the photograph. It is becoming more and more common for people to capture the essence of their everyday lives in photographs…..most of us spend 8 hours a day at our workplace, this means that half our lives are spent in a different environment.  In this day of digital photography, people are very comfortable with snapping pictures everywhere they go. This is just taking it one step further and setting up the shot. We all can picture our parents in their workplace but it is not often that we have a photo which captures that moment in time.

The most important aspect of Environmental Portraiture is to tell a story involving the individual’s environment. Once again, light is very important to produce this portrait. Window light is great to give a warm feeling which would convey a warm type of environment, but this is not always what you want.  Try to match the environment with the colour of light that gives the viewer a specific feel. Even using B&W will reflect a different feeling altogether. Maybe if you are shooting a Lawyer in his/her environment, B/W would convey a sense of reality in their environment. I have seen sepia toned photos used in a factory type setting to give the viewer a “real” feel but a little warmer to such a cold environment.

Experiment with your subject actually working and not looking at the camera. Then try photos of your subject posing with their equipment, some times smiling and then other times with a straight face. Sometimes the seriousness of their work requires a serious face.

Shooting in these unconventional environments are great when everything comes together in that magical moment of “stopping time”. These are the kind of portraits that will tell a story about the kind of person that the subject is for years to come. Photography is about capturing a moment in time.

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