How to Take Great Portraits in Mediocre Locations

We do not always have the luxury of shooting in stunning locations, which can make it difficult to take great portraits. Nonetheless, you can still take compelling portraits even in drab locations with a little bit of know-how. This excellent video will walk you through the process as a photographer shoots in such a location.

Coming to you from Manny Ortiz, this great video follows him as he shoots portraits in a rather mediocre location. Though shooting with a wide-aperture lens definitely helps (as Ortiz does in this case), it is about more than just throwing the background out of focus; notice how he still works to use splashes of color and leading lines. One trick I really enjoyed was how Ortiz looked around the scene through the lens with the background out of focus to find suitable scenes for the portraits. It is a clever way to quickly evaluate a scene, particularly since you're using the same focal length you will be using for the shoot instead of your natural eyes. The better you can get with these techniques, the more versatile a photographer you will be. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Ortiz. 

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Mark Fa'amaoni's picture

That wasn't an ugly location. Not by a long shot.

Mark English's picture

That was a difficult location in difficult conditions. Many a photographer would have looked and walked away. Well done to all for sharing this and proving great shots can be had if you persevere whatever the situation. I'm inspired. Big thumbs up. :-)

Alexander Petrenko's picture

There are 3 keys to amazing photos in any location:

1) Bokeh
2) Bokeh
3) Bokeh

Przemek Lodej's picture

I like Manny, but there no such thing as an ugly location. In addition if you have a pretty model it literally solves all of your problems, unless you are a creative putz. :)

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Those weren't exactly ugly locations. I think Pye had better examples on another article:

Just a couple of samples below:

Catherine Bowlene's picture

No way I'd call this location ugly. It's not easy to shoot in, that is true, but idk why would anyone call it ugly