How to Make More Compelling Portraits by Framing Your Subject With the Environment

There has been a huge rise in the popularity of portraits with shallow depth of field in the last decade, and while those can be compelling, they are certainly not the only way to shoot. In fact, you can give your images an extra dose of visual interest by integrating the environment around your subject in clever ways. This helpful video tutorial will show you just how to go about doing so. 

Coming to you from Pye Jirsa with Adorama TV, this excellent video tutorial will show you how to use the surrounding environment to frame your subject for more compelling portraits. There is a tendency nowadays for a lot of photographers to shoot portraits using an aperture like f/1.4, essentially turning the background into an amorphous wash of color and nebulous shapes. That can be a great way to deal with a busy or unappealing background or to quickly get a shot when you do not have a lot of time, but they can also be a bit one-dimensional. Plus, given their popularity, it is really hard to achieve a look that distinguishes you from the rest of the crowd. Adding some of the environment can make for more visually interesting shots. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Jirsa. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

Log in or register to post comments
1 Comment

This is a compositional tactic that wildlife and bird photographers have used regularly for decades. Nice to see it being encouraged for people photography, too, because after all people are a species of mammal and what works for one type of large mammal will obviously also work for other types of large mammals, including Homo sapiens.