How to: Include nature into your photos

Have you been to Crystal Bridges yet? Not only is it an amazing museum with a beautiful landscape to walk and enjoy outdoor scenery, art, and trails it is a great photography setting for brides, children, seniors and families. I held nine photo shoots on the Crystal Bridges property last fall. I took some of my favorite family photos for clients there and I’m eager to go back this summer and fall to do more and explore other settings on the grounds. Last fall I focused on nature but there is so much more. I could tell you why I love the property so much for outdoor photography when you want nature to be another subject in your images but I think photos tell a better story. So enjoy…

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How to use nature in photographs?

As you can see, some photos are close up on the subjects and some are not. Deciding when and how to do this is really a personal preference on what you are trying to get out of the photo creatively. Here are some things to consider when placing your subjects in nature.
1. Is the subject safe?
2. Is the subject comfortable?
3. Where is the light source from? Will the subject be back lit, front, or from the side? What will make for the most interesting photo for that scenery in regards to light? What will my camera settings need to be to get what I want with the lighting available and will it work for what I want to accomplish?
4. Am I shooting at the right time of day (see #3)?
5. How much of the background should be included? The photo I took from a distance of the couple on the slope looking into the water wouldn’t have been as interesting if I took that close up of the couple. I was striving for a landscape image with the couple that would be hung on a wall as a large print that wouldn’t ever feel out dated.
6. Do you want the nature subject to be subtle? The close up image of the couple in black with the orange filling part of the background was taken in this way to give the image a warm fall feeling without the need to be obvious by showing the leaves in focus. I loved how the orange popped against their skin tone, hair and clothing. It worked beautifully.
7. When deciding where to stop to shoot consider how you will get the subject and the background to blend? Does the subject need to sit or stand? How far away does the subject need to be from the nature featured? And then gut check, does this feel natural?  The dogs with the couple on the path. It isn’t in your face obvious that they are on a path but it is subtle enough to make the image feel natural.  The image of the couple on the rocks with the water look like they are sneaking off into the woods perhaps, you could have fun coming up with a story to match the image.
8. Remember to have fun, be safe, and embrace your creativity.