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Environmental Portrait Photography

Lesson 42 of 48

Edit Raw Images from Indoor Shoot


Environmental Portrait Photography

Lesson 42 of 48

Edit Raw Images from Indoor Shoot


Lesson Info

Edit Raw Images from Indoor Shoot

So with that said we're gonna go into the raw editing. I'm going to reset some of these. I'm actually gonna make a second variance so Image + New Variant, and with the new variant I'm going to show you the before and after so you can see how it looks straight in camera. So this is with absolutely nothing done to it and that's with my RAW setting. So if you look at all the settings over here they're all zeroed out. So I don't, I didn't do a whole lot to the shoot, it was mostly in the editing. What I did do was I upped the Contrast, I took a little bit of red out in the Tint here on the White Balance. Upped the contrast, got rid of a little saturation, definitely brought back the highlight so you can see if I didn't bring'em back versus bringing those back because I wanna add to the highlights later when I'm doing the color. Brought up a little bit of the shadow detail here to bring it back into her face, hair, and apron. And then Color Balance I added you can see a little bit of blue t...

o the shadows, just a little bit. If we bring up more you can see that's too much, that's none but it cools it off just a little bit, and it fits the room with all the blue. I added a little bit of red, just the tiniest bit, actually I wanna change it a little bit to the mid tones and that's actually zeroed out so there's nothing added to the highlights at all. So again, that's all I did to that and then Color Editor, I took a skin sample on one of the first shots I did of her. We took the Hue and moved it up 2.7 points so that actually added green. I took the Saturation down 4.7 points so I desaturated her skin tones a little bit to get rid of any red, and that's been applied to every shot, so I'm not gonna touch that; I like how it looks. So again, before, straight out of the camera raw, with some editing and that'll give us a good base to go into Photoshop. We'll delete this variant. Moving forward we'll create another one of this one so a New Variant. So there's the shot straight out of the camera, there's with the same editing, and actually now that we've touched this one up a little bit we can copy those settings, and paste them here, and just open up the shadows a tiny bit; I'm gonna redo that. So we'll get rid of that original. Same thing here, paste those settings. So you can see that was quite a bit different. We did some different settings there so I (mumbles), oh it's because of the highlight, so once we apply our settings, you can see it's bringing back in a lot of that. What I mentioned earlier is if you wanna expose her brighter but you really wanna bring in some of this stuff down here, you can do a separate layer - remind me later, thanks. We have our Layers, you can actually add a new layer. So hold on one second. Add a new layer, we can name that Highlights Art. So what we'll do is we'll go on that layer, you can kinda mask in where you want it to affect the layer, my computer's gonna hate me - we need to increase the size of that brush because that's gonna take forever. So I'm not gonna be too picky with this right now. Normally I might spend a little more time but this is if you really wanna bring back the detail within this artwork you can make this layer. Now you're gonna see as we lower that, you could even make it more blue, up the saturation but really what I'm concerned with is the highlight, so I'm not gonna mess with the exposure. I just wanna make sure that it's not blown out and that we get those highlights there for later. So I'm okay with that. Here you can see before and after. It's just bringing a little bit of that detail back into the artwork, it's actually even too much. So I consider that good and when you go to export, it'll save all those settings. However, if you apply this, if you were to copy and paste this, it would apply that same highlight thing to your next image, and you'd have this weird rectangle of highlight recovery in the bottom, so we'll use those settings unique for that image. We'll copy these settings to paste on here, I like that, give her a little more shadow; I actually like the depth of this one. I think that's the image I showed in this slideshow. I keep going back to it so it's probably for a reason. That looks pretty good there. I like that one; I've already done quite a bit of work to that one. If you wanna see the before, it was just darker so I just brightened it up. This one was interesting. Again this was not my favorite shot. There's what it looked like straight out of the camera; whatever, it's okay. For here what I would probably do is spend a little more time with the background layer that we spent... I would have to, I'd probably end up doing this in Photoshop but just to give you a quick idea, I would try and blow out this window even more through the settings, and this would be something that again I would probably do in Photoshop, or do in multiple, multiple exposures overall because the masking feature in Capture One while it's handy, it is not nearly as refined as Photoshop in my opinion, so this is gonna be very rough - you're gonna see some spots that don't look so hot, but I would try you know, such as the window, I would keep that dark. Let me see if we can, killing me here. Oops didn't mean to do that. Well whatever, you get the idea, but I would basically try and make that so it stayed the dark, but the overall goal would be to blow out the window more so the focus was more on her and - not doing that - and less like this, and closer to that. So she would stand out and you wouldn't have those distracting elements behind her. That would be something that might take me an hour to do, or at least 30 minutes, so I'll save your guys' time and boredom, but you get the idea. This photo definitely looks better here than here so what I did to that one was - we'll get rid of that layer altogether. Alright so all I did was up the shadow, bring back some of the highlights. I mean I could do a little bit in here, that's actually better. Up the contrast a little bit, that'll bring some of that in. That's pretty good right there so compared to that, that's definitely more interesting. We can work with that, we'll give it a shot. And then the only other images are the portraits. So with this one, again just to see how it was shot in camera, they're all gonna look very similar. I just brought back a lot of that detail. That'll be something we'll be able to play with more once we get into Photoshop. It's lower, lower the saturation a little bit, I'm sure I did a little color balancing there. These ones are all essentially the same so with that said we're gonna select these ones, and we're gonna export'em. So I'm gonna export'em, I'm not gonna do high/full res right now at 100% because I wanna make my computer not hate me for a second, so we're gonna do Long Edge, yeah we'll stick with 3200 pixels on Long Edge, we're gonna output these to a new destination because I started to edit these previously. So we're gonna use Creative Live Selects, select as Output Folder, and we can go through and we can batch these out, and get them all into that other folder. Alright so you see those will go out, it'll take about five megabyte files each. They're pretty low res compared to what the camera's capable of but they'll work just fine for editing. So we'll open those quickly and I wanna show you kinda what I do here, and I also wanna get to a couple of those ones in the garage. We're only gonna do three from the garage and I'm gonna save the time of going through the full edit, and just pick a couple really quick. So we'll let these finish up loading. I'll let the garage photos preload so MotorShed + Capture. Just to quickly go through that, this was the scene, this is what the garage looked like with full ambient light; not ideal. I had him move, move one of those motorcycle lifts off to the right, I had him turn the direction of the other lift so you can see, there we go, we just turn the direction because I started framing out the image. Now I started introducing my main light, started introducing Fill, eventually go to the point where I put in that backlight - it's in there now I can tell - and then I just started shooting. And when I'm shooting all these images of him looking into the motorcycle, I know those are not the shots I want that's why I had him occasionally look outward, and we got to a point here near the end where everything came together; that would be this shot right here. So if you wanna see what that one looks like totally raw, that's what it looked like in the back of my camera, that's what it looked like with a little bit of adjusting. So you guys were seeing this one in the video so it was definitely dark, that's what you could do with all the detail that was in there, so we'll get rid of that variant. And then as we move forward I was good enough with that but we went outside and here's where things got a little more interesting, and you'll be able to see these have been a little bit processed, so if you wanna, what you were seeing on the video - let me go to one of the shots where he's crouched down cause that's where things got good - I think this shot was one in particular. So looking at the variant of that, the one you saw on the video was this, but that doesn't look lit, but that's just with a little bit of work because it was a balancing act, so knowing what could happen, the rest of that was done in Alien Skin and Photoshop, but that's how it looked raw. So again, it looks very underexposed but I didn't wanna blow out any of this other stuff, and I didn't want it to look lit so I didn't wanna turn up the light, but I knew because we were shooting tethered, that's what it was looking like on the screen so I knew we were onto something good, it's just a matter of knowing that you can adjust those things and make it look how you want.

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!