I have been shooting landscapes mostly with my budget DSLR Canon EOS 1100D. I am tasked with taking photos on outdoor occasions now. I have no clue on how to shoot an individual/group in outdoors. Be it a rare heritage site or just a beach.

Could some one please give some tips on how to pose them and what should be given importance (subject or the background). I have a kit lens(18-55), 50mm f1.8 and 55-250 lens in my bag.

3 Answers 3


Generally the subject is the focus, but it really depends on your creative vision as to how you balance the background and the subject in frame. How blurry the background should be, how wide the frame should be beyond the subjects and where in the frame the subjects should be are all artistic choices that don't have a "right" answer.

Close up shots focus on the subject and simply casually show where they were. Shots that make them a smaller portion should be emphasizing the scale of where they are and are often trying to capture their experience of being there. Either is correct depending on the goal of the photo. If you are going for a shot that focuses more on the landscape, make sure that you photograph the subject in such a way that it shows them experiencing it. For example, two lovers off to the side of the image looking out over a sunset on a scenic vista. You don't put them in the center of the frame, you put them to the side to show what they are seeing and how they are experiencing it.

Sometimes you can also end up treating the background as another subject. If it's a particular monument or statue or even a building or geographic feature if far enough in the background, then it is often possible to treat the background elements as another subject of the shot and compose the shot around all the subjects. This often can result in a more traditional portrait look, but there is also a ton of room to be creative with it as well.

The biggest thing you will need for shooting subjects in outdoor settings is keeping either good lighting conditions (primarily morning and evening, preferable right after sunrise or right before sunset (known as the golden hour, though it isn't actually an hour). If you can't shoot during the golden hour, you still want to avoid mid-day if at all possible. It will also benefit you greatly to have some powerful flashes that you can use to provide fill lighting against the harsh shadows you can get when shooting in sunlight. This is particularly critical if your subject is going to be at all backlit with a bright background relative to their brightness.

  • @goodsp33d comments aren't really the place for a discussion, but I'd be more than happy to do a critique with you in chat some time.
    – AJ Henderson
    Jul 13, 2014 at 13:37
  • Or more specifically this chat. Didn't have access to a desktop earlier to give the most direct link.
    – AJ Henderson
    Jul 13, 2014 at 18:45

For an individual portrait, you want a short telephoto lens. This allows you to stand 10-20 feet away from your subject, which is considered flattering because it minimizes the distortion that results from getting too close, while taking a half-length portrait. Short telephoto generally means around 70-135 mm on full-frame, so your 50mm f/1.8 on a cropped body is perfect for the job.

For a group photo, since you want to include everyone and often it will be a full-length portrait, you should use a wider lens and maybe step a bit back. It all depends on your scenario, though. If you've got ample space, go ahead and use the 50mm (but the amount you step back will be greater). Otherwise, use the 18-55mm and choose a focal length around 24-35mm.


Take a lot of shots with a great variety of compositions (emphasis the person in some, the landscape in others, and so on) and gradually discover your own voice.

  • 4
    That's good advice overall, but do you have any guidance on where someone might start with that? Are there any general ways to choose one emphasis over another? And so on. In general, we're looking for detailed answers which people can really learn from and act on.
    – mattdm
    Mar 26, 2014 at 10:17

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