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7 Ideas for Including the Landscape in your Portraits

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During an engagement session or wedding shoot, how often do you incorporate landscapes into your photos? If you shoot most of your weddings outdoors, chances are you work with stunning landscapes during many of your shoots. If you primarily shoot indoors, do you suggest to your clients to step outside and capture some of nature’s beauty?

Spicing up your portfolio is key to remaining current and inspired in the photography industry. Although shooting with remarkable landscapes may seem simple, it can also become a bit of a challenge. When you choose a location to shoot in, there are still plenty of decisions to make in regard to capturing perfect shots, from the perfect angles, lighting conditions, and compositional elements. Here are 7 ideas for including the landscape in your portraits to create interesting and compelling photos for your couple.

1. Scout Stunning Locations

Is there a certain place the bride and groom mentioned they would love to visit to have their photos taken? This is an opportunity to find a unique location to shoot your couple during their engagement session or wedding portraits. If your couple is unsure where they want to go, but know they want to take their photos outside, make sure you have a few ideas for locations which would make for perfect landscape shoots in your area. 

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Image Compliments of Danny and Julia Dong

2. Bring Proper Gear

Once you decide where you will shoot your couple, choose the equipment which will help to capture your couple and the landscape in a way that creates a dynamic image. Use a wide angle lens to cover a larger area and to capture more of the scene. 

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Another piece of gear you can bring to an outdoor shoot featuring a landscape is a tripod, which you can use to ensure you accurately incorporate the landscape with your couple.

Related: Find out what the best images are to take throughout the wedding day shoot, plus how to get them published, with our Free Guide! 

3. Master Composition and Framing

When you shoot with a landscape in your photos, you should make sure the composition and framing is properly aligned. When looking for composition in your photo, pay attention to opportunities for symmetry, texture, and depth of field. Mastering the basics of composition can create interest for your photo, and can help the focus on your couple, even with an impressive landscape in the background. 

As you look for proper framing, pay attention to where your eye leads initially. Proper framing means you lead the eye toward your couple, who are the focus of the photo. The landscape in this case provides beautiful scenery and enhances the story of the wedding day for your couple.

Related: Your body matters…your camera body, that is! Download The Wedding Photographer’s Guide to Camera Bodies to discover some of the best cameras on the market

4. Use the Rule of Thirds

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During your shoot with your couples, use the rule of thirds to ensure you master the composition of the photo and include the landscape. With the rule of thirds, decide what position is best suited for your couple for each shot. So you can avoid shooting your couple straight on for every image, place them off-centered in your frame. Not only do you showcase more open space when you place them off-centered, your photo becomes more interesting. Also, you can create balance for your photos by placing your couple away from the center of the shot. Perhaps there is a large tree that is a part of the landscape; position the bride and groom on the opposite end of the frame to create proper balance and create a unique photo for them. 

5. Take Advantage of Unique Angles

Because landscapes can vary from size, height, and location, it can be beneficial for you to move around with your camera to capture unique angles. Sometimes, shooting straight on with a large mountain in the background may not give the landscape proper credit. Shoot from higher and lower angles so you can properly capture everything the landscape has to offer. Also, work with your clients to change positions, especially when the sun moves or it becomes cloudy, so you can continue to shoot stunning photos in this location.

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Image Compliments of Danny and Julia Dong

Planning the times you will shoot in a certain location can also give you the opportunity to shoot from the angles you desire. If you know a certain location gets very sunny later in the day, plan to do the shoot earlier in the morning or later in the evening. For times when you cannot control what time you start shooting, move your clients around so you can capture them in the best light possible. It can be helpful to scout the location early on so you know exactly where to position your clients and what the light will look like during the time of your shoot.

6. Incorporate Silhouettes

One way to feature landscapes in your images, and create an interesting photo, is to shoot silhouettes. Decide where you want your clients to stand in relation to the landscape, and focus on exposing the brightest part of the background. Shooting silhouettes with landscapes gives you a more dramatic feel to your images. With silhouetting, your photo will showcase your couple’s outline as they are shadowed by the backlight. When the sky is still light, you can silhouette everything else and have a powerful color coming from the sky to create a “Wow” factor for the image. 

To create a powerful silhouette, pay attention to how you pose your couple. Because they are silhouetted, and only the background and landscape are fully visible, make sure they are not in a pose which could cause confusion. Have them stand apart from one another, holding hands and facing the landscape or other another.

Tip: After the shoot is over, send your photos to a wedding photo editing company so you can provide your clients with consistent images they will love!

7. Focus on Leading Lines

For you to create an image which stands out, pay attention to the leading lines in the photograph. You can use leading lines in the foreground to draw the eye to the main focus of your image, your couple. Whether you are shooting in an open field or in front of a large mountain, there are leading lines which can help you place the proper focus on your image. If you are using a wide angle lens, move closer to the foreground to make it a main feature. When there is not an option for appealing foreground elements, change locations to find new details to include.

Finding ways to creatively include the landscape in your portraits provides your couple with beautiful images they can cherish for years to come, and may encourage them to purchase your photos as prints for their home. Learn how to always shoot the best images every time with our Pro Photographer Lighting and Posing Guide

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