Portraits – In the studio or on location?

October 6, 2009

One of the question that needs answered when deciding to have a portrait taken is wether the portraits will be taken in a studio or on location.  There is no right or wrong answer.  It is simply a matter of preference and personal style. Here is a short list of factors to consider.

Studio Portraits

Studio Portraits provide an easier environment for the photographer. They have total control of the light and can take advantage of this to create some truly dramatic portraits.

Studios often have a selection of props (furniture, plants, backgrounds) that allow for good staging.

Studios also lend themselves to more classical and timeless portraits, with a neutral background.

The one drawback of studios is that often, clients are less comfortable. You are in the photographer’s environment with stands, strobes, softboxes, backgrounds, etc… This can be quite intimidating.

Location Portraits

On location portraits have the advantage of being held where clients are comfortable. Instead of being in the photographer’s domain, you are in the comfort of a familiar setting.

You can get a much bigger variety of locales. You can have a beach, a park, a forest background, a river’s edge, even your living room.

Natural light can be stunning! Sunrise or Sunset light is magical.

Natural light can be harsh! Noon light makes for some very harsh shadows.

Location portraiture lends itself well to more casual family portraits.

Location portraiture can be more difficult for the photographer. They don’t have as much control over the light or the weather. It is also more time consuming, as there is some travel involved, maybe some scouting ahead of time. While we don’t charge more for location portraiture, some photographers do have a higher sitting fee for locations outside the studio.

Which One?

Factors you should consider include the “look” you are after and where in your home the portrait will be:

  • A family portrait to remind you of the wonderful summer vacation you took – Outdoor portraits would be ideal
  • A corporate headshot, a cap and gown graduation – Classic studio portraits are what you want.
  • A portrait for the formal living room that is oak paneled – A classic look would probably be better than a high key portrait.
  • Your 5 year daughter’s portrait for her room – a light or pastel background – could be studio or on location

Your photographer should consult with you before the photo session to make sure you get something that matches what you want.

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