9 Tips for Shooting Models Outdoors

We're back with more tips for shooting models outdoors. Being on location provides a certain freedom for photographers and models to work with different environments, elements, and circumstances that they might not normally find in the studio. Having a successful shoot can come down to a number of factors and knowing what (or what not to do) is important. Without further ado here are 9 more tips for shooting models (or really just anyone) outdoors.

1. Scout Locations


Location scouting is one of my favorite activities when I have some downtime to spare or am due for an important shoot. Go out and discover your location, see how light interacts during different times of the day, and think about the progression of your shoot and what outfits you might want the subject to wear in different locations. If you're not able to go to a location in person, make sure you get images in advance, ask other photographers what they think of a particular area, or show up ahead of time and look around for half an hour. Another tactic I use is to take time during hair and makeup (if you have a team member with you) to look around and get some ideas.

2. Try Not To Chimp

I don't mean act like a monkey. Looking at your camera screen or chimping is when you spend your time looking at the back of your camera display (assuming you have digital) and less focus on the actual shoot itself. This often breaks the flow of the shoot if you do it too much and was something I was guilty of when I started off taking pictures. If you need a break, tell the model you'll need a quick minute to review the images or take a look between wardrobe changes. That way you'll be less likely to irritate your team or overthink your shooting style.

3. Invest In Lighting

Think outside the lighting box. A big rule of thumb that I have trouble with today is not rushing my lighting setups or solutions to problems that might arise on set. This is crucial even outdoors with natural light and a reflector. If you are using strobes and your typical soft box paired with a reflector combo isn't working out, rethink your lighting or take a step back. Don't be afraid to test out lighting on your subjects before you begin the official shooting period. If all of your images lack proper lighting, they won't look great. It's plain and simple. Take some time to evaluate your options and light your scene properly!

4. Check The White Balance

The title says it all for this one. Different environments and times of day call for different white balances in your camera. Although this is something you can change with post processing, doing as much as you can in-camera, will save you a lot of time and aggravation down the road. This is the first thing I check every shoot and it's an important habit to establish that if not followed, might cost you

5. Focus On The Model


This isn't landscape photography. Although I love a good landscape photo, the primarily focus (no pun intended) of the photograph should be the model or models you're photographing. That doesn't mean the photos don't have to be interesting or you can't incorporate different elements of the background or foreground in the image. It just means you need to create an idea in the viewers mind that the subject of the photo is your model OR as the one and only exception to this (in the case of fashion photography) the clothes that the model is wearing. This is especially true when shooting portraits, agency tests, or digitals.

6. But, Great Locations Do Help


To add on to Tip #5, if you have a great location it doesn't hurt. Beautiful locations not only often make the model feel more comfortable but they help add variety and interest to a photograph that other work may lack due to the lack of texture, color, or composition that the area may provide. Unfortunately, the key to finding great locations depends on a number of factors. One key competent that can help you though is location scouting which we covered in Tip #1

7. Think Portable

This one goes for both photographers and models. Unless you have a large team or are feeling especially advantageous, don't bring your entire suitcase, five camera lenses, or prop drawer with you to a location. It's more important to think about what you might need with you than bring everything when it comes to gear or clothing. This is where the photographer can help the subject cull down their wardrobe before the shoot either in person or via email. Although it's always a good point to bring a couple extra items just in case, you should avoid being encumbered by the amount of weight in your pack. That said, you should still bring the essentials (snack, water, phone, SD Card, Battery etc...) even though shoots are fairly low key endeavors most of the time, you need to remember to take care of yourself and your team members if you stay out too late.


If you’re interested in learning more about a specific modeling subject or idea, shoot me a message on Instagram or contact me via email moreyspellman@gmail.com I’m always happy to answer additional questions or comments.

Morey Spellman is a Los Angeles based fashion photographer. 
His work combines a love for beautiful light, authentic beauty, and natural scenery.