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Environmental Portrait Photography

Lesson 41 of 48

Choose Selects & Sort Images From Indoor Shoot


Environmental Portrait Photography

Lesson 41 of 48

Choose Selects & Sort Images From Indoor Shoot


Lesson Info

Choose Selects & Sort Images From Indoor Shoot

What I wanna start off with is the blank slates when I was just framing up the shot at the art studio. So these are literally every frame I took. As you'll see, there's 442. This includes the ones I've already imported from the card. So when I was looking at framing, and looking at camera settings, we'll open up the Info tab here in Capture One, you're gonna notice, these are pretty dark. But this is gonna show you the effect the ambient light had. So this is at f/8 at a 200th of a second at ISO 100. As we change, we're down to f/4. So f/8 to f/4, we opened up a couple stops. Now, we're starting to raise the ISO. We went from 100 to 200. So slowly I'm letting a little bit of ambient leak into the shot to up that mood. And then, until I get a comfortable spot. So it looks like there we are, we're at ISO 200, a 200th of a second at f/4 and 5500 white balance, as far as the Kelvin goes. So this is where I was happy with the shot. You know, having an overall feel that felt natural. But I k...

now if I shot her in this environment without any, adding any light, it would be really dark. So now we move on to introducing the subject and our lights. And you'll see, the light settings, I change them slowly as I go because the strobes they were bouncing around that room, having a white ceiling, having white walls, it started to affect things. So I left the ISO, the shutter speed is what I was lowering or raising to try and let in more window light without affecting my strobes. And eventually we found a happy medium and we just began to shoot. So once I found those settings, you'll see all of these are the same. So these are just the RAWs. And as we're going through, she was painting. I was liking what was going on here, but again, I didn't love it because the way her head was angled, with the hair and things like that. I just kept shooting, letting her work through her process and I'm not even really paying attention to what she's doing I'm looking at framing at this point. I'm thinking, all right, is this blow torch in the foreground too much? Do I need to zoom in, get some verticals? And I'm just kind of letting, letting everything happen, paying attention to what she's doing, only to the point where I actually see what I want. And I could tell we were getting closer. And I actually like when we zoomed in a little bit more. Getting some of these vertical overhead shots. And now is when I started to kind of have this realization, I'm like, oh, this is where all the sudden her chin is up, she's doing the action that I want, and her hair's not so much in her face because her chin's up. So it was just kind of letting it come together. I didn't know it was, how it was gonna happen. I just knew eventually it would hopefully happen. So I really liked this shot. This would be one I would mark. Oh, I did mark it. So I already started some of these. So at least I'm consistent. And then, as you'll see when we go through, I marked a bunch of these in a row because we hit a good point where everything was kind of working out pretty well. And then as I continue to look, I actually like that moment, too. We'll mark that now, after the fact. I like that the torch is barely in there, that she's kind of observing what she's doing. Again, I just continue to shoot. And I marked that one because I like that there's now some space around her head. It's not stuck in that artwork there. And it continued to be there for a while. And my light didn't fire. If you wanna know what it looks like with strobe and without, there you go. So that's what it looked like totally ambient, that's what it looks like when you add my light. So you can see my light's casting shadows from the ceiling lights, it's casting the shadows on the art. But as far as shadows, you know, these hard shadows on the wall from the torches, they're still there, my light's just shifting them from the left side to the right side. So it is how it looks naturally, it's just a different version. And she looks much better in my light than the natural light. So we'll keep going through here. I actually like, that one's all right. That one's pretty good. So I've marked some of these. Again, now we move to the overhead position. So I do like that, I love the frame. I'm, oh, I marked all these ones too. And as we continue through, I'm just experimenting with angles now. Because I felt like we got the shot we needed, I'm just seeing if there's anything in here that really works well for supplemental shots that I would present to a client or, you know, show my friends for feedback on if any of these spoke to them. As we go through, again, shooting a lot, just looking for, kind of like that one, I'll mark it. I like that one, the light on her face is really nice. That one's even more square and there's more space on the right. She's getting too far into those torches and off frame. I don't like that one as much. It's too busy behind her head. So she moves back. That's kind of a nice moment there. So we're, again, just filtering through it. I like that one. The way the head's angled towards the light, she's painting onto the, and that was it. So then we moved on. I did one, a couple light tests for this backlight shot. Actually, I just did one light test and then I was okay with moving to natural light. So we'll kind of sift through these really quickly. And again, I'm just looking for moments that everything's sharp, that her head's in a good place. So that would be one right there. And the action looks real. Got a couple of these detail shots. Again, those weren't shots I meant to take when I got to the shoot. They were just ones that worked out. A few more details. I like how she rotated, or how the plate there, or the panel rotated a little bit. So here it's just a little off-kilter. I like as it was getting more and more turned. It added a more interesting composition. Removing the wax from her tools. The whole works, inspecting everything. I didn't love the frame there. It looks like she's about to fall off the chair. That's what happens when you come partially untethered in mid-frame. Not ideal. And then a couple of the portraits. So I was telling her to smile. I wasn't, she clearly, it's just not her thing. So you gotta understand that. I thought, all right, fine, no more direction there. If she wants to smile, she had a great smile when it would naturally happen, when she'd start laughing or act like she was selling a torch or something. But the forced smile was not her thing. And you gotta understand that as a photographer. It's not always, it's not always the direction to give. Sometimes you've just gotta let things happen. So I'm marking a few of these. Strictly looking at the frame. I do enjoy that one quite a bit. I marked the next one, so it's basically the same. You can see, her head's just slowly, I'm just moving from left to right slowly. You can see her head move. And now we went on to this backlit one. This one was not working from the get-go, so I didn't spend much time on it. It was really hard to get the balance how I wanted without totally starting over and to me it wasn't worth it. So we're just gonna look at these. I think, yeah, that's about the only one because I'm actually square to the wall, the torch is there, so it's marked. We'll work on that one in a little bit. And now we're on to the portrat. So you can see, kind of the evolution of this portrait. We started off, she was here, I'm just testing, this is the one light test with no fill. You can see, the shadow's pretty dark. You can see, this is when there's still the cardboard on the table. And so I let her look at the frame. I said, how do you wanna prop this out? And we had already placed all these things back here. We did that beforehand. She said, that's when she told, you know, there's butcher block underneath that cardboard. So that's where that came in. Much more interesting. And then she had this bowl of crayons. We started playing with that, of, you know, should we just put the bowl, should we put the crayons, do we need more artwork. And slowly we got to a point where it's a combination of all those things. So now we're ready to shoot. It's all propped out, now we can just find the moment. That's a great one there. You can see we show the full environment. She's, I like how she's composed nicely, framed up nicely within the artwork. I like that one quite a bit. And these have a little bit of RAW processing done to them. We'll reset it and start from scratch, now that we've made some selects. And I'm just selecting a few. You can see, they're one-starred as we go. I'm only looking at one thing, and it's whether or not it feels authentic and whether or not I like the overall frame. So this one, I cut off just a little too close to the bottom, no stars. This one, I left space, one star. So it's something as simple as that. And I'm just looking for moments in these other ones. Again, I was a little bit crooked. There I'm a lot more straight. Love that one. Let's see if any of these. You know, even getting closer up, it just changed the focal length. We'll select that one. It's a little crooked, but we can make it work. And then we moved, let's see. Like that one. And then she'd start playing with the torch. It's kind of, again, with props, it's funny because I felt like she was presenting this torch to me when she was really checking out the dials and she started laughing because she said, I feel like a torch salesman. So then it got to a point where I just wanted her to hold it and look towards the camera because she wouldn't be paying so much attention to the torch. And then this happened. She turned around completely and I like this moment. And then she started gettin' goofy. So we moved on. What you didn't see were, these were the last shots. She wanted to show me this technique where they, she creates all these little lines within the artwork, using the torch. It doesn't really translate to photo and she didn't know if it would. The video's probably really cool of this. But the photo, you can't tell what's going on. So again, it's mostly just another portrait of her working, which is fine. I do like that one. And you'll be able to see some of the effect, if you just watch the artwork and not the actual photo. But I tried shooting it from the other side. And then all my lighting got screwed up, so it just looks really flat-lit. It's kind of cool, but not what I was going for. And again, this wasn't working to a point that I, I don't mind that photo. Actually, I don't mind that one. To a point where we just moved on. She was finishing up some last things. And these are the shots that came from my card. So when I didn't, when I came untethered, these were those photos. Generally, there's nothing really in there that I love. So now we'll go up, sort by rating. Out of the 441 photos, I upon first glance liked 70 of them. So that's actually quite a bit. So what I would do then is go through and look with a little more refined eye. Like, I don't like that one now that I've seen the other ones. Still don't mind that one, but I know the torch ones are better. So I hadn't seen those ones yet when I saw these. So I'm not marking any of those. Okay, now we're talking. So now I can start doing a little bit of comparison. So we have very similar photos. I like the head angle better here. She's looking off to the side more there. So we're gonna two-star that one, that'll move up to the top. I'm just gonna go through these. I like that one. I like that one, but this one's gonna need some work to bring back a lot of the highlights. Oops. I like that one, as well. I like the head position in all of these, so we're just gonna pick one to edit. And I like that one. It's a nice portrait and it's a totally different focal length than the other ones. That one, as well. Now for these ones, I think we're just gonna stick with one of the portraits with eye contact. I like this, let's see, I like that one. I'm just looking for space around her head. We'll edit one of these, just because. We'll pick the one that's more, has less in the foreground. And now a couple of these portraits. So with these, these are where I'll be really picky because these were kind of the shot for me. Love that one. That one could be fun, it'll be closer up. Like that moment. Love that one. Ooo, I like that one too. We might have to go back and look. And I don't feel like editing any of those right now so we'll let those breathe and sit for another time, probably never get touched. Let's see, so our two-star ones, we went, let me go through those last ones one more time. So we have two moments here, one with her hands together and one apart. I like together, so we'll one-star the one where they're apart. And now, we went from 441 photos to 70 to 14. So that didn't take us that long. These would be the ones I'd work from. And even these, I would cull down even further. Like, these two, I'm gonna go with that one. So I'm gonna get rid of, I'll three-star it. Might as well. And these ones are very similar, as well. So I'm just looking at very tiny details. I like having the color chart on the background here. It add a little nice detail. And it pushes her farther to the right third of the photo. That's gonna be better for composition. I do like that one. I like that one. And I like all these ones. So, that said, we are good.

Class Description


  • Confidently create environmental portraits
  • Light any portrait, indoors or outdoors
  • Compose strong environmental portraits
  • Cull and polish high-end images in post
  • Develop a portfolio and marketing tactics


Create dramatic images anywhere by mastering on-location scouting, planning, lighting, and composition. Join professional photographer Dan Brouillette in a start-to-finish course on the art of environmental portraits. From planning and scouting to post-processing and portfolio building, gain the skills to shoot high-end portraits, anywhere. While designed for environmental portrait work, this class is also for any photographer that wants to create better light, on location.

In this light-intensive course, learn how to craft environmental portraits using photographic lighting techniques working with both natural light and studio lighting equipment. Work with multi-light strobe set-ups and natural window light to turn difficult lighting conditions into beautiful light. Then, learn how to mix natural light and studio lights for dramatic effects that complement the scene. By incorporating light in new and inventive ways, Dan will help you push the boundaries of your portraits and improve your workflow.

Finally, work with culling and post-processing. Learn how to polish images using a combination of Capture One, Photoshop, and Alien Skin software. Then, gain insight into building a portfolio and marketing your work to work in editorial and commercial areas for environmental portraiture.


  • Budding portrait photographers
  • On-location portrait photographers
  • Photographers eager to learn on-location lighting
  • Photographers branching into commercial and editorial work


Capture One 11, Adobe Photoshop CC 2018, Alien Skin 2018


Dan Brouillette's high-end editorial style has lead to work with celebrities from Anne Hathaway to Scarlett Johansson. A commercial, editorial and senior photographer based in Nebraska, he's known for giving everyday people the Hollywood look. His previous work as a lighting technician helped him build his signature style using dramatic lighting techniques typically used for commercial work. With an insightful and easy listening teaching style, he helps photographers learn to craft with light.


  1. Class Introduction

    Jump into environmental portraits with an overview of the class. Prep for the class with an overview in this lesson.

  2. Introduction to The Environmental Portrait

    What is an environmental portrait? Environmental portraits tell a story using a single image. Gain insight into the genre in this lesson.

  3. Environmental Portrait Purpose

    Why shoot environmental portraits? Environmental portraits encompass history, story, and personality -- and they are more interesting than plain backgrounds.

  4. Personal Work

    Personal work conveys your unique passion for photography. In this lesson, Dan discusses using personal work -- even for photographers with paying clients -- to avoid burnout and stay true to your passion.

  5. Find Your Process

    Every photographer's workflow may feel a little different. Start finding your own process by brainstorming, planning out personal shoots, scouting locations and more.

  6. Tethering

    Tethering allows your camera to instantly talk to your computer for review during the shoot. In this lesson, learn how tethering can boost your workflow and can help you easily pre-process your images during the shoot.

  7. Purpose For Action Editorial

    Ahead of the live shoot, walk through the purpose of the action editorial shoot in the photo studio. Learn why studio-like shoots are often a requirement.

  8. Prepare for Shoot

    Preparation is key to successful environmental portraits. Master what's essential to the planning process and learn how Dan prepared for the upcoming live shoot.

  9. Action Editorial Process

    Dive into the workflow for an action editorial shoot. Walk through Dan's process for this type of image, from working with the client to delivering the photos and invoicing. Read through an actual editorial assignment from a real magazine and learn how those details spark the planning process, including preparing the dramatic effects from studio lighting.

  10. Set Up Action Editorial Shoot

    Set up for the live shoot, beginning with the tethering software. Go behind the scenes as Dan sets up lights and explains the gear and his vision for the shoot. Work with studio lighting placement, including angles and the height of the light stand. Control strobe lighting with different angles and modifiers.

  11. Shoot: Action Editorial With Athlete

    Begin the live shoot with a test shot to adjust the studio lighting and camera settings. Here, Dan shares his camera settings, like the 1/200 shutter speed and a white balance of around 5500K, then works with the "first layer" of lighting with the key light. Add fill light using a strobe modified with a silver umbrella and an accent rim light. Then, move into action shots.

  12. Studio Portrait Shoot Overview

    Take a brief break from the live shoot and learn why studio shoots are often included to supplement the environmental portraits. Gain an overview of the process before heading back into live shooting.

  13. Shoot: Athletic Studio Portrait

    Set-up the studio portrait using strobe lighting and V-flats with a bright white background. Learn how to manipulate the light to brighten the background without spilling over to the subject using side lighting and "cheats" with V-flats.

  14. Shoot: Manipulate Light to Mimic The Sun

    With the right modifiers and light source, you can mimic natural light with studio lighting. Learn how to create hard light to mimic the sun in the studio.

  15. Shoot: Change Background Color With Light

    Using the same white background, learn how to manipulate the color of the background with light. Remove the lights to create a gray background. Work with several different studio lighting set-ups to manipulate the background color.

  16. Shoot: Create Soft Light with Umbrella

    After working with hard light, work with soft light by using a black and white umbrella with a diffusion sock to light the subject. Set-up the side light to feather on the subject without falling onto the background.

  17. Shoot: Create Intentional Shadows

    Working with studio photography lighting is just as much about the shadows as it is the light. Learn how to create intentional shadows using studio equipment.

  18. Shoot: Action Shots In Studio

    Go behind-the-scenes for studio action shots. Watch as Dan works with a handheld light without a light stand to replicate the look of on-camera flash.

  19. Review Images in Capture One

    Review the images from the live studio shoots inside Capture One. Cull photos quickly with keyboard shortcuts and see the results from the live shoot.

  20. Raw Processing

    Move into post-processing by working with the RAW files. Pre-processing with tethering offers a jump start -- learn the process of fine-tuning RAWs and organizing files.

  21. File Handling

    Organizing files helps streamline the process and make invoicing easier. In this lesson, Dan shares his process for sharing and organizing digital images.

  22. Retouching & Color Overview

    Strategize for post-processing in this overview lesson. Learn Dan's process for editing, including finding your style, and working with color.

  23. Retouch Images in Capture One

    Work inside Capture One to perfect the RAW files from the live shoot. Find tricks and tips to working in Capture One, working with exposure, contrast, and basic color temperature.

  24. Retouch Images in Photoshop

    Moving into Adobe Photoshop, remove distracting elements like stray hairs and acne. Work with the patch tool and clone tool to clean up images in Photoshop.

  25. Retouch Images With Presets

    Work with cropping inside Adobe Photoshop. Then, move into Alien Skin to work with presets to work with different colors and dramatic effects. Work with film-inspired presets, then learn how to fine-tune the effect.

  26. Advertising Vs. Editorial

    Editorial work and advertising work have several distinct characteristics. Learn the difference between the two and how to please both types of clients.

  27. Indoor Location Shoot

    Move into the second shoot of the class with an indoor shoot on location. Gain an overview of the goals and process for the shoot.

  28. Indoor Location Shoot Process

    Prepare for the shoot with tips on the process of the environmental portraiture. Work with a checklist and a shot list, then jump into the first in a series of behind-the-scenes videos in an artist's studio.

  29. Get to Know Your Subject

    Understanding your subject helps create unique, authentic images. Learn how to collaborate with the subject. Find the essentials to quickly getting to know the subject.

  30. Test & Frame Your Shot

    With a shot list and understanding the subject, Dan then moves into analyzing the location and the natural light or ambient light that's already in the space. Work with testing the light and framing the composition.

  31. Create Natural Light

    Placing lights where they'd naturally be in the space helps create flattering, dramatic lighting that doesn't look terribly out of place. Work in the shooting space with initial lighting and start shooting.

  32. Natural Light & Alternate Light

    Every portrait doesn't need studio equipment lighting -- work with natural lighting and window light. Alternate lighting can build variety into your environmental portraits.

  33. How to Shoot Indoor Location Portrait

    Along with action-based environmental portraits, a more formal, looking-at-the-camera shot is often part of each shoot. Work with shooting portraits on location, from setting up the studio lighting to composing and getting the shot.

  34. Indoor Shoot Results

    Review the results from the indoor shoot in this lesson. Dan explains everything that went into the shot and why he made some of the decisions that he did.

  35. Outdoor Location Shoot Goals

    In the third shoot of the class, head out to a location with natural light inside a garage and outdoors. Learn how Dan prepared for the session and the goals for the shoot.

  36. Indoor/Outdoor Light Setup

    Work with outdoor and semi-outdoor locations by tackling the lighting. After scouting and settling on a narrative, work with studio lighting tools to create dramatic effects. Go behind-the-scenes for the three light set-up using artificial lighting.

  37. Studio Light On Location

    Mix the natural light with the ambient light in this shoot outside the garage, continuing the third project of the class. Learn why you might use artificial lighting outside and how to mix the sunlight and a studio light kit.

  38. Create Location Portrait

    Work with the location portrait from the third shoot of the class. Learn how to spot locations for the more formal portrait and work with graphic compositions and more dramatic light.

  39. Outdoor Shoot Results

    Take a look at the results from the final shoot. In this lesson, Dan shares his thought process behind creating each shot and why he made the lighting and composition decisions that he did.

  40. Post Processing Overview

    Make a plan to polish the images from the second and third shoots. In this lesson, get an overview of the editing process before jumping into the post-processing.

  41. Choose Selects & Sort Images From Indoor Shoot

    Cull the images from the artist's studio and the garage inside Capture One. Review the images and go through the process of choosing what photos to edit and deliver.

  42. Edit Raw Images from Indoor Shoot

    Learn how to polish those indoor shots inside Capture One. Work with exposure, contrast, and color with the shots from the artist's studio.

  43. Finish Images in Photoshop & Alien Skin

    Work inside Photoshop to remove scuffs and scrapes on the walls and other clean-up tasks. Then, work with files in Alein Skin to color using presets.

  44. Portfolio Management

    Moving into the portfolio and marketing segment, gain insight into building a strong portfolio. Dan shares tips on building a portfolio, from what order to use to choosing what images to include.

  45. Importance of Website

    Websites serve as a first impression of your work. In this lesson, learn the dos and don'ts to building a photography website, like focusing on images and simplifying navigation.

  46. Marketing 101

    Your portfolio doesn't do much good if no one is actually laying eyes on it. Develop strategies to get your work in front of potential clients for editorial and commercial work.

  47. What About Reps?

    Reps work with the numbers while you focus on the photography. Learn the basic pros and cons to working with representatives or agents.

  48. Bring it All Together

    Wrap up the course with a final chat on environmental portrait photography. Once you've built a successful business, remember to take the time to get back to your roots and shoot for yourself.


Julie V

I had the chance to sit in the audience for this class and absolutely loved it. Watching Dan create amazing images from start to finish in front of us was so inspiring. I've learned so much from this class. It actually gave me the confidence to start playing with lights in my studio. It was really useful to see how he sets his lights and how he can easily mix ambient light with artificial. I also love how he focuses on getting the image right in the camera to only do light edits after. I recommend this class to anyone wanting to learn more about lighting, shooting tethered and editing efficiently!

a Creativelive Student

I love this guy! I so appreciate his honesty while he is explaining his thought process, admitting that his “shoulda/coulda/woulda’s” - which I experience ALL the time. I am now going to dust off my light meter and start using it on location as I’m convinced that it works now that I’ve seen Dan’s class. I enjoyed the detailed way he sets up each light individually, checking to make sure it adds the amount and quality of light he wants. Definitely recommend this class - especially for those people who have experience using studio lights and want to see how they can be used to get specific results. Dan’s clear, simple explanations, his unabashed humility, and his sense of humor made this a truly enjoyable way to spend my time learning his methods.

a Creativelive Student

Dan is an excellent instructor! He's completely transparent with his thought processes, from technical to creative. He doesn't waste time horsing around or getting off topic, but is structured and sticks to his outline. Every minute watched is on topic, and is understandable. He's sincere and likable. The course is great for anyone interested in this genre!