Outdoor Photo Shoot with Tabitha

Tabitha in tall flowers

I had a great time on a recent photo shoot with Tabitha. I will take you through the shoot and make some suggestions that you can use in your own portrait photography. As is my custom before doing a photo shoot with someone for the first time, I asked Tabitha to go through my online portraits and any other online portraits she could find and let me know what she liked. She picked outdoor portraits, some of them among flowers, some of them in soft light, and some of them backlit by the sun. In some of the photos the subject was standing or kneeling, and in some the subject was laying in a bed of flowers. So that is what we planned on doing. The day before the photo shoot I scouted several locations to see which ones had flowers currently in bloom.

Tabitha at the bridge

We started with nice semi-soft light at local foot bridge.

Tabitha in tall flowers

On my scouting trip I found some tall flowers near a local lake. In the evening we would have some nice backlight from the sun. After a change in wardrobe from the bridge location we created both vertical and horizontal images. Most portraits look best with a frame filling vertical image, but it is a good idea to do so some horizontal versions too (photo at the top).

Tabitha in a bed of flowers

I also found a nice bed of Birdsfoot Trefoil so this was our third location with another change in clothes. Changes in wardrobe are important so you don’t have the same attire at every shooting location. Variety is good. To get this shooting angle I was laying in the grass and propped up using my elbows. My elbows and arms created sort of a two legged tripod (bipod?) to provide some steadiness for the camera. Keep the camera pressed against your forehead for extra steadiness.

Tabitha right side up

The light is semi-soft with a hint of directionality. You can tell which direction the sunlight is coming from but shadows are very soft. This makes for great portrait light. I used a variety of shooting angles. Kneeling near her head I did this full length portrait. This photo is right side up, as in this is what the camera saw when I clicked the shutter.

Tabitha upside down

I almost never turn photos upside down. This is an exception. After I posted this photo on Facebook, I put my iPhone down. I came back later and picked up my phone. It was upside down and I looked at this image again. I like the upside down perspective. So I went back to my computer and turned the image upside down


When Tabitha got up from shooting in the yellow flowers, she had a few stuck in her hair. I liked the look so I added two more flowers and did another portrait.

We ran out of light before we ran out of locations. I try to pick more locations than we can use in single shoot. That also means taking more clothing changes than we can use. That also allows for flexibility if the light doesn’t turn out like you had planned. It is a good idea to have a plan B.

Tabitha and I met by chance. A day before our grandson’s birthday party our doorbell rang. I opened the door and a lovely young woman was standing on our front porch. It was Tabitha with cupcakes for the birthday party. (See Treats by Tabi.) Our daughter-in-law had arranged to have the cupcakes delivered to our place so our grandson wouldn’t find them. I just happened to be the person that was home at the time. I took one look at Tabitha’s face and decided we needed to do a photo shoot. Later that day I sent her a message and suggested a photo shoot. Coincidentally, I have done several photo shoots with her friend Beth, so Tabitha was already acquainted with my work.


Simple Steps to Better Portraits

Excellent “How To Photograph People” Books

The Best Book On Photographic Lighting

Beth Presler at Lake LaShane

Treats by Tabi