With Spring officially here (and possibly even actually here, I do have a few things starting to come up in my gardens), I’m realizing that I’m really looking forward to returning to outdoor photo shoots this year.
Last year around this time I was feeling really insecure about my outdoor photos. I had read something online that was critical of the idea of taking your furniture photos outside. The writer suggested that you should always stage your furniture in spots that show how it could actually be used and that outdoor photos were ‘unprofessional.’
I immediately thought to myself ‘oh man, I’ve been doing it wrong all this time’, ‘I need to change what I’m doing to meet professional standards’ … which led to those inevitable feelings of ‘my work is inferior’ and ‘I don’t measure up.’
I started trying to think of ways I could set up better indoor photos year round.
I do have my photo cottage for summer photo shoots …
But it is in dire need of a fresh paint job, plus I can never quite get the lighting right in there. Also, it’s small, so I have limited ability to shoot the piece from different angles other than straight on.
I also have the one blank wall in my house that I can stage for furniture photos …
It works great in the winter. However, we have a lot of trees in our yard and in summer when they leaf out this spot is no longer filled with natural light.
I’d even thought about setting up a spot in my carriage house for summer ‘indoor’ photo shoots.
This spot seemed like it would be ideal because it has an authentic ship-lap style wall, and that concrete floor has a cool industrial vibe. The lighting all comes from the side, but maybe I could work with that. But in the end, the one thing that drove me crazy was the fact that the ship-lap is not level with the floor. So my photos all end up looking crooked. I can either make the furniture level or the ship-lap level, not both.
Finally I simply came to the conclusion that maybe outdoor photos were OK after all. I mean seriously you guys, when am I going to learn to follow my own instincts and ignore the naysayers?
There really is something about outside photos that appeals to me. Maybe it’s that unexpected juxtaposition of an outside setting with some inside furniture.
Or maybe it’s just that I enjoy working outside in any capacity when I have the chance. Our summer season is so darn short here in Minnesota, so I like to enjoy it while I can.
I do realize that I’m lucky to have an awesome leafy, green background to take advantage of, not to mention a giant Limelight hydrangea to use as a backdrop.
In the end, outdoor photos work great for me. So I thought I’d share a few q-tips with all of you on how to get the best outdoor photos.
Early morning or late evening light is best. Photographers call the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset the ‘golden hour’, the light is softer than at other times of day and you can get a beautiful glow on your subject, whatever it might be.
You can shoot outside at mid-day if you’re in full shade, or if it’s an overcast day.
However, you should avoid direct sunlight which creates harsh shadows.
Dappled shade can be a problem too.
If shooting in dappled shade try to make sure that your piece itself is mostly in shade. Or ask your neighbor to come over and hold up a large golf umbrella just out of frame to throw some shade on your piece (nnK comes in really handy for this).
By the way, all of these tips work great for portrait photography too. So the next time you want to get a good family photograph keep them in mind.
I’m looking forward to embracing ‘outdoor photo shoot season’ again this year.
How about you?