As a Photojournalist for several newspapers, environmental portraits are a must.They tell a story. The photo below was the morning after hurricane George hit Key West.
Above a sign turned up side down,one of the weirdest things I have ever seen!
What exactly is an environmental portrait, how does it differ from a typical portrait?
An environmental portrait, also called a location portrait, uses a person’s surroundings to tell more about that person. Sometimes this environment is directly connected to who they are—it’s that person’s home, place of work or community. Other times the environment has little or no connection but helps create a mood that contributes to an understanding of that person.
Below an old Cuban man making hats out of psalm fronds in Key West Fl
“Thats What Fronds Are For”
Why do I prefer environmental portraits?
- they give context to the subject you’re photographing
- they give points of interest to shots (something you need to watch as you don’t want to distract from your subject too much)
- they help your subject relax
- they often give the viewer of your shots real insight into the personality and lifestyle of your subject
There should be some background detail, to add character to a picture, but not so much that it overpowers the presence of the person in the shot. The idea behind this method of photography is that the background subtly adds to the feel of the portrait yet does not become the main feature. If you find the background to be too distracting, try using a wider aperture to blur the background so you can still make out what’s there but the eye is immediately drawn to the person instead. You could also try cropping the shot when you’re back at your computer or simply move your subject to a place where the background isn’t so distracting. Remember, you want your location to relate to your subject and add interest to the shot without actually pulling attention away from your main point of focus.
One of my favorite photographs of my son in his teenage yrs
“The best asset that any photojournalist has is the ability to schmooze—the ability to relate to somebody else, the ability to talk to somebody else and to make them feel comfortable. If they’re comfortable with you, your pictures will clearly show it,” “You can’t be shy if you’re going to play photojournalist. You have to talk to people.”
An artist in his gallery in New Orleans