Sunday, August 24, 2008

environmental glamour portraiture

Shooting glamour portraits with environmental element is what fascinates me these days, being my latest photographic interest. Often, we see glamour portraits of pretty models shot in an out of focus backgrounds intended primarily to isolate the subject and to put emphasis on the model or the item she’s wearing or selling. This is the typical glamour portraiture we knew as differentiated from an environmental portraiture where the background plays an important element.

As more popularly defined, an environmental portrait is an image of a person in a place – they are portraits of people in their workplace, home or places of leisure which says something about themselves as a person. It is a portrait taken in an environment or in a location. Shooting portraits in an environment is therefore called environmental portraiture and shooting pretty girls in a location might be rightly called environmental glamour portraiture if the surroundings or the background where the subject stands plays a key element in the photo.

In this style of portraiture, the background should be integrated with the subject and not taken as out of focus element. Mixing glamour with environmental elements therefore necessitates the use of wide angle lenses shooting at smaller apertures to capture the background in a wider depth of field. In the sample photos, I used a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AF-D, for the first five photos and a Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 AF, for the last photo, and if given a choice of what lens to use, I would take a medium range zoom like the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8G AF-S or the Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G AF-S DX. The Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 AF was recently borrowed from a friend and this is the culprit why I am now putting my sights on this style of portraiture – environmental portraiture, that is.

By the way, I recently sold my favorite and most abused lens, the Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G AF-S in the hope that I could buy a better replacement but up to now, I haven't had a chance to get one due to financial constraints so I settled on a fixed focal length lens, the Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 AF, to fill in the void on my wide angle shots. I had previously used the same lens on a Nikon D200 and was not impressed with the results but fitting it this time to a D300 gave me a more amazing output.

One important tip on shooting environmental portraits is to shoot your subject in an environment where the surroundings will not dominate your shot, or aptly put, the background should not be distractive or cluttered to detract the attention of your viewers away from the subject. The background or the surroundings by itself should give a hint on where your subject is. Looking at the photo of Hanna above, one may deduce that the subject was on top of a building with a nearby construction of another building seen on the background. The photo below would also give you an idea of Hanna on a high altitude location inasmuch as you can see the surrounding cityscape on the background. The first four photos of Angelyn were shot on the same location at the roof deck of City Land Tower located at Pasong Tamo in Makati City.

For modelling credits, special thanks to Jim Go Yarisantos for letting me shoot these two young girls, namely, Angelyn Tensuan and Hanna Mae Padilla. Make up services was volunteered by Wren Yuson.

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