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How to get those awesome evening portrait shots | Tampa Portrait Photographer

Tips / Off / June 27, 2017

Since summer is currently staying with us folks here in The Sunshine State of Florida, we’re experiencing a pleasant bundle of longer and brighter days. This is the ideal time for photographers to take advantage of long outdoor shoots. In the summer, exploring outdoor locations at 7 p.m. is far from intimidating. Evenings become a source of inspiration even to those who dislike the dark. Whether the end of your sun-filled day is brimming with gloomy clouds or bursting with a magnificent sunset, you can take impressive evening portraits.

The time frame of evenings has been the topic of many controversial discussions; the generally agreed upon range, however, starts at 5 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m. During this time, especially in the summer, it’s possible to take fascinating portraits which are neither too bright nor too dark. In the evenings, the sky tends to absorb a calm, azure hue mixed with golden streaks of remaining light. This combination of colours is ideal for creating moody yet friendly portraits. Whether you’re a fan of sunny portraits or nighttime shots, know that evening photos are a great addition to any portrait photographer’s portfolio.

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Use unintimidating ISO numbers

Taking portraits at night requires the use of relatively high ISO numbers. Summer evenings don’t demand such an overflow of grain. If you’re shooting in a location with good sources of light, an ISO number of 100 might prove to be more than enough. However, don’t be afraid of experimenting with higher numbers. Chances are that a slightly higher ISO value (such as ISO 500) will provide you with better results and an insignificant amount of grain.

(If you do end up disliking the amount of grain in your results, don’t be discouraged. Editing programs such as Photoshop, Topaz DeNoise, and Neat Image are capable of flawlessly removing photo noise.)


Find the best possible source of natural light

During the day, it can be fairly easy to find perfect locations for your portraits. The sun often provides us with amazing shooting opportunities; making the most of that is certainly worth it. But what can you do when the pleasant rays of sunshine are almost absent? Evenings are a time when artificial outdoor light isn’t yet available, so using streetlights to light your subject’s face won’t work. The solution to this is finding the best possible natural source of light.


Oftentimes, the best sources of light in the evenings are sunsets. However, these golden hours aren’t always available. Another great source is any open location, such as a field. These spots absorb as much light as possible, even on gloomy days. Finding a place that isn’t filled with trees or buildings will allow light to freely seep into your camera. You’ll be surprised to know just how much valuable light exists even on overcast days! If possible, experiment with a reflector. This will add an extra glow to your model’s face and create the illusion of a brighter day.

Use the mood to your advantage

If your evening is a gloomy one, use the moody atmosphere to your creative advantage. A photo of a thoughtful subject surrounded by dark clouds will create a wistful feeling reminiscent of Brooke Shaden’s photographs. A shot of a subject frozen in time whilst dancing in an open field will create feelings of freedom, openness, and joy.


No matter what the weather is like, you can transform it into something that will perfectly reflect your desired feelings and emotions. RAW photos can be perfected using Lightroom presets, Photoshop actions, and more. Treat your camera and your editing programs like brushes with which you can create, alter, and enhance any image. Don’t forget that patience and imagination will get you very, very far.

Evenings, particularly during the summer months, are ideal for experimentation. If you’re used to shooting with a satisfying amount of sunshine or with a very limited amount of light, take the time to shoot between 5-8 p.m. Find an open location, dedicate some time to using the gentle colours of sunset, or transform a dark atmosphere into a thoughtful work of art. Whatever you do, remember to remain open to all kinds of shooting methods and ideas, and you’ll find your portfolio thriving in no time.

Now get out there and shoot! 😀

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