Fashion Photography: Outdoor vs Indoor

Fashion photography is a challenging, diverse, and always unpredictable professional career to pursue, choosing where to shoot the photography in an outdoor or indoor location can be a key part of the artistic process.

A fashion shoot may require a photographer to work in multiple environments depending on the overall theme, which dictates the production style. Depending on the nature of the project, choices between indoor or outdoor photography may arise. The tone, dynamics, and textures produced through your subject and environment will determine the success of your shoot. Fashion photos are about light, but a good model and backdrop are equally important. Knowing both the indoor and outdoor environments, having a firm grasp of your tools, and understanding how to be most productive is the key.

To most, indoor photographic sessions may seem to be more controlled and predictable. Working in a studio can prove to be a complicated thing, but mastering the art of using light will prove to be one of the biggest challenges facing a fashion photographer. Natural and emulated lighting may be used in unison or individually depending on the requirement or theme of the project. Natural lighting has always been considered to be optimum during indoor photographic sessions. Artificial lighting can be used to simulate shadows or highlight a specific feature of the subject. Artificial light may create unnatural color, shades, and hue because of the light temperature. Perfecting the method of white balancing will improve the quality and help sustain the lighting effects more accurately during indoor sessions.

Outdoor sessions may be more casual allowing both the photographer and model to creatively reflect off an organic backdrop. Unfortunately the photographer and model are at the mercy of a natural environment, which is unpredictable and just as challenging. Correctly using outdoor light can give radiant results and work beautifully for mood and expression, but it quickly changes. Timing and attention are essential in this environment. In an outdoor setting, the photographer needs to first be careful about any natural light falling on the model. The complexities of the outdoor session must be understood to capture successful shots. Composition techniques, the backdrop, knowledge of your equipment, the specifics of the environment, the lighting color quality, lighting direction, and reflectance, are all important factors, which the photographer must consider before taking the first photograph.

Many of the smaller fashion organizations and photographers choose outdoor settings over the more costly indoor studios. Some prefer not dealing with the constant change and unpredictability of the outdoor shoot. Both environments offer potentially stunning results when photographer, tools, model, and environment are studied and understood properly. In either environment you need to be well versed in the use of your camera, reflectors, lighting techniques, the flash, and the science of color. Organization and attention to detail are sometimes not highest on the priority list, but should be tightly woven into the session to guarantee success. Whether a session is conducted indoors or outdoors, the true spirit of fashion can be easily captured in every shot with accurate knowledge, persistence, and creative experimentation. Both environments offer a blank canvas of unimaginable potential.

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