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Should I Have My Portrait Photography Done In A Studio Or Outdoors on Location?

There are many times in your life when you may want a portrait to be taken of you – graduating from college, starting a new job, to update your social media profiles, or during any other special time that you want to remember

And when you’re choosing a portrait photographer and thinking about your portrait, you may have a question – should you choose to have an indoor portrait at a photography studio, or should you opt for an outdoor portrait?

There is no right answer for everyone – because both options have their benefits and drawbacks and different costs associated with both. So, in this article, we’ll break down the pros and cons of both outdoor and studio portrait photography.


Understanding The Pros And Cons Of Outdoor / On Location Portrait Photography

Outdoor portraits often look fantastic, and can provide you with beautiful, varied scenery and excellent lighting – but they have their own risks, too. Let’s dive into the pros and cons of outdoor portrait photography now.

anzi Photography Outdoor Portrait Photography

The Pros of Outdoor / On Location Portrait Photography

  • More varied scenery – Want your picture taken in a field of sunflowers? Over a scenic overlook? In the middle of the hustling, bustling city or with the skyline as a backdrop? At your favorite park? You can choose any place you want for outdoor portrait photography – based on your personality and desires. There are an unlimited amount of choices when it comes to outdoor portrait photography shots.
  • Interesting lighting – Shooting outdoors will give you some brilliant lighting for your portrait, particularly during the “golden hour” just before the sun goes down – which can result in spectacular shots. While outdoor lighting cannot be controlled to the same degree as an indoor studio, a professional photographer should be able to provide battery-powered softboxes or at the very least multi-purpose reflectors to fill in areas of the shot that require more light.
  • You can shoot somewhere important to you – If there is a particular place close to your heart, such as a park, urban location or another such area, you can have your portrait taken there, making it more special and meaningful and unique to your particular portrait photograph.
  • You may look more natural – Some folks find it easier to be natural and care-free when shooting outdoors, as compared to the more artificial surroundings of a studio.

The Cons of Outdoor or On Location Portrait Photography

  • You risk inclement weather – Whether it’s a windstorm, rain, thunder, or even snow or hail, your shoot could be rudely interrupted – or you may be forced to reschedule.
  • Unexpected crowds could ruin your shot – Your photographer may have to work to deal with crowds, and if there are a lot of people at your location, it may be hard to get a great shot.
  • Your photographer cannot control the lighting – If the lighting isn’t great, your photographer won’t really be able to do anything about it.
  • You or your photographer may need a permit – This applies to some areas like U.S. National Parks, and some local parks and businesses. You may need to apply for a permit or ask permission to shoot in a particular building or area.

Outdoor portrait photography can deliver stunning results – but it’s riskier due to inclement weather, can be harder to organize and the light is less controllable.


Understanding The Pros And Cons Of Studio Portrait Photography

Studio portrait photography gives your photographer unparalleled control over your surroundings and lighting – but it may not be right for everyone. Here’s a look at the pros and cons.

The Pros of Indoor Studio Photography

  • No need to worry about weather – You’re inside in a climate-controlled, comfortable environment. No need to worry about thunderstorms!
  • Fine-tuned lighting control – Your photographer can control the lighting color, placement, and more, allowing them to have complete creative freedom when it comes to lighting your photo.
  • Always comfortable and convenient – You’ll be comfortable in a studio environment, with no concerns about heat or cold, and you’ll always have access to amenities like water, bathrooms, and power outlets.
  • Private, away from crowds and people – When you rent space in a photography studio, it’ll just be you, the photographer, and anyone else who you would like to be present. There are no crowds, strangers, or people to watch your shoot – which could make you feel uncomfortable during an outdoor shoot.
  • Changing facilities – Want to take shots in several different outfits? You can change privately, and get plenty of pictures in as many different outfits as you want.
  • Makeup Artist – If you require a makeup artist for your shots, it is much easier for that makeup artist to work in a controlled indoor environment than outdoors. Taking away the wind variable and being able to supply the makeup artist with electricity makes their job much easier.
  • More family-friendly – It’s easy to keep your kids under control at a studio, as they won’t be running around, and won’t be able to get out of your sight – making studios a better choice for family portraits with small children.

The Cons of Indoor Studio Photography

  • Feels more artificial – It may be more difficult for you to relax and pose naturally in an indoor studio, so you may not be as happy with how you look. You will tend to “warm up” over time, though, and your photographer can help you with proper posing.
  • Higher cost – Whether you work with an independent photographer and rent studio space at a large facility, or choose to hire a photographer who has their own studio, indoor shooting at a studio tend to be more expensive than an outdoor shoot, in most cases.
  • Time constraints – Renting a studio has associated time constraints. You and your photographer must be done by the appointed time, or risk penalties and other charges.
  • No interesting scenery – You’ll usually just be photographed with a blank background. Effects and scenery can be added in post-production, but usually do not look natural, so if you’re looking for interesting scenery, and don’t just want to focus on your appearance, an indoor shoot at a studio may not be right for you.

While studio photography will always deliver great results, some folks may find that it’s a bit stale or plain, and doesn’t provide them with natural, varied photos.

So, What’s Right For Me? Outdoor Photography Or Studio Photography?

That’s up to you! After learning about the pros and cons of both outdoor and studio photography, we’re sure that you have a good idea of which option may be right for you.

If guaranteed results and fine-tuned control are important to you, an indoor shoot is a great idea – but if you crave variety and scenery, and don’t mind losing a bit of control over your environment, an outdoor shoot may be the best choice.

Take the time to consider all of these pros and cons, and you’re sure to make the right choice.

Jason Danzi
jasond58@gmail.com
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