Identifying and Photographing Indoor Locations for Portraits

Discover how to combine portraiture and architectural photography – with stunning results.

In this photography class, Karl Taylor photographs in a lovely historical building, where he finds the perfect location for natural light photography, using only the available light and simple accessories.

He explains his thought process when in an unfamiliar shooting situation, how he finds the right areas to shoot in, and how to overcome common challenges when photographing in public places.  Karl also talks about working with your model and how to keep them comfortable and at ease whilst photographing them.

In this class:

  • Portrait photography: How to photograph using natural light
  • Natural light photography tips
  • Natural light photography indoors
  • What to consider when photographing in new locations
  • Identifying locations for portrait photography
  • Accessories for portrait photography
  • How to use lens flare for creative portrait photography

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. Enjoyed the examples and while I’m looking for them near here I’m reminded the benefits of European cities for photography. Still waiting for a Karl in Vancouver episode! Lol.

    I’m not sure where to post this or if there is a better lesson or place. I notice most models (in any courses or on social media) tend to be fairly light skinned. This summer I’m hoping to be working on a project with very dark skinned models and have been thinking about how to adjust figure to ground and lighting to best deal with dark skin. It is possible to find some examples, but it would be really interesting to hear what your experience and thoughts about what changes in effective photography of dark skinned models and subjects.

    1. Hi, I don’t have a specific answer as it isn’t something I’ve consciously thought about, I approach my lighting with a ‘solve the problems as they arise’ approach and in instances where a model has dark skin then as with all photography you just have to keep thinking about the Hero vs the Supporting Cast and keeping the juxtaposition and separation so that your subject stands out and tells the story. You will see me discuss this more in some of live shows, critique shows.

    1. Ha, interesting as I also found this location difficult to work and was only satisfied with a couple of the results.

  2. Gary Stasiuk

    Karl.. in the video, just before you started shooting the first set of shots, you placed the model in the window. In the video, the whites were heavily blown out with some harsh direct light streaming into the window. My question is about when using this light from your camera view. I understand the reflector bouncing light back in.. no questions there.. but from your view, did you purposefully take an angle whereby you eliminated any view of the “outside” harshness coming in and limited the direct light to rim or edge type backlighting on the model only.. like side lighting? Are those edges still blown out? I guess the question is about using the backlight but limited the quantity of it in the frame.

    1. Hi Gary, yes I was certainly working to the limitations of using natural light as that’s what this series of images was about. In fact my preference would have been to crank out a couple of studio lights to solve the problems! But when working with natural light in this way there is only ever going to be a certain amount of light you can bounce back off of a reflector so in such situations if you want the model exposed correctly you will have to compromise on the background. However in saying that on many cameras with good dynamic range, shooting in RAW it is amazing how much detail you can recover with the highlight control slider.

  3. Hi Karl,

    Thank you so much for your instruction. Sometimes (in these portrait lessons) I notice you moving the focus point in camera, and in this shoot it looks like you locked focus a few times, then recomposed. Am I right? If so, is there a specific reason for this that could be helpful for me/us to know when shooting handheld portraits? Thank you.

    1. Hi, JJ I don’t have any specific focusing techniques. Sometimes I’ll use a specific focal point square if shooting 35mm, sometimes i’ll use servo AI if the subject is moving towards me. In my medium format camera there is only a central focus point so I have no choice but to lock and recompose. I don’t get every shot pin sharp either!

  4. hrachess

    Hi Karl,
    Some interesting points in the video.. thank you!
    quick question: when model start to walk towards you and you keep continue shooting, what are your focus settings? can you give bit more advises on that? is it on AI Servo? Specially Canon 5D Mark IV has so many different focusing options that is really tough to understand which works best in this types of situations….

  5. I think it’s really helpful when you show set-ups that don’t work for you also (like you’ve done in this video), equally instructive I find.

  6. Hi Karl,

    Is there a class about choosing the right clothes color for your subject? What work and what not work?

    As I think sometimes even if everything okey but the clothes and environment colors are incompatible these will ruin the shot

  7. Will we see any instruction on architectural photography? I don`t portrait shoot much at historic places but try to capture the buildings inside and out just for personal albums. Many historical locations do not allow flash or tripods inside, so a higher ISO is required.
    I`m thinking of perspective angles etc. Converging verticals can be an issue.

  8. Hi Karl,

    Great series and love the education series you have created.

    I have one question, what type of metering did you use here, I am really struggling with spot metering outside. In the studio I use spot and it works great.

    If you could steer me in the correct direction if you have a video about metering.



  9. Hi Nitkin, you are absolutely right it is not preferential to light faces from underneath but in this situation there was less choice as the direction of the light meant that the reflector needed to be positioned in such a way to reflect the only available light. In such situations you have to work with what you’ve got but as you will see in part of this video and the others in this natural light series the reflector is usually held high enough to avoid the problem.

  10. hii karl its nice but in this shoot or many outdoor shoot u r useing reflecter in down side and other lighting we always keep main light up to the eye lavel so what is the defrance in reflecter as a main light[horrer down light] or studio flash light[top to eye lavel] plz explain sir

  11. Cheers Karl. Loving the New series of Live shows by the way. If you ever want to include any members on a Live instructional workshops I’m up for it, so count me in. Cheers

  12. Hi Karl
    Do you always ask for permission to shoot in Public Buildings like Churches and Galleries. If so how would you go about asking for permission to shoot for free? Would you seek out someone in charge on the day and hope you’ll be granted permission to shoot for FREE or plan well ahead of time and offer prints or a donation etc.

    1. Hi Nigel, if it is a personal shoot then seeking out permission on the day is usually acceptable and many of these locations have a policy of acceptance towards non commercial personal use. However if it is a commercial shoot then yes permission should be sought in advance and it is likely fees will be requested.

  13. Hi Karl,

    It was great video, I just have a question about focus.

    I saw the scene when you shoot the model who was walking. At that moment, how to use focus system to get good framing when model is moving.

    To use auto-focus with continues-focus or single-point focus with fast focus-framing? etc.

    Could you please share your experience to me?

    Thank yo very much.

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