How to Photograph Environmental Portraits

Environmental portraits are a genre of portraiture that are often in high demand. Used in anything from annual reports to websites, they can be a great way to make money and test your skills.

When it comes to photographing environmental portraits, as the photographer you often have to deal with a lot of unknowns, but it’s your job to apply your knowledge and skills to produce results that your client will be happy with.

Through a series of tutorials Karl shows you a number of scenarios where he has to overcome a variety of different challenges, including decluttering the scene or background, controlling mixed and studio light and making sure the subject feels comfortable.

This introduction also provides an overview of the key considerations to keep in mind when working on location and photographing people and Karl shares his top 10 tips for photographing environmental portraits.

What you’ll learn:

  • How to photograph environmental portraits
  • How to declutter your scene to get the best background
  • Techniques for controlling studio light
  • How to balance mixed lighting
  • Use affordable equipment suitable for shooting on location
  • How to make your subject feel comfortable
  • Communicating with and posing your subject

If you have any questions about this class, please post in the comment section below.


  1. Just noticed the comment about speedlights! Look forward to that series.
    These videos rank amongst my most favourite for their teaching, clarity and candour.
    The only ‘Nice to haves’ that I can think of now are: why not take a laptop or Ipad so that you can shoot tethered (and can you do this easily in Lightroom – that is a separate question); how did you teach yourself to spot the ‘holes’ in the lighting and composition.. the extra light on the electric motor with the woodworker, and the scissor placement; and can you make general comment about using smaller modifiers or umbrellas.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi and thank you. Yes tethered would be my normal way as you would have seen in my studio shoots but it’s often not the usual way for many photographers on location so we decided to show a ‘real world’ situation here that matched how most photographers would be trying to do these shoots. With regards spotting things I’ve just developed an eye for it after having been doing this so long, but I also zoomed in on the screen image and slowly pan around it checking everything too. With regards smaller modifiers always try and get them as close as possible, even if you have to take another shot with them moved further back and then ‘comp’ them out later, obviously this has to be done with a tripod so there is no movement between your images.

  2. Hi Karl. Just subscribed to the course. Can you use speed lights stead of portable studio lighting. Obviously not going to get the continual lighting but can you achieve similar final results using speed lites. TIA

    1. Hi, yes you can and you will see us use speedlites in some of our other classes. We also have a series of new enviromental portrait classes scheduled for next year that all use speedlites. These are hopefully being filmed in December and released in 2024.

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