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Environmental Portrait Photography

Lesson 12 of 48

Studio Portrait Shoot Overview


Environmental Portrait Photography

Lesson 12 of 48

Studio Portrait Shoot Overview


Lesson Info

Studio Portrait Shoot Overview

Well, now we're gonna keep moving forward and go into the studio section. So, by studio obviously we're in the same room as before but we were kind of treating that warehouse type as an environment. Now we're gonna kind of pair that with white seamless in a studio and how I pair the shoots to make sure we maximize the shoots, we get the most out of the shoot. We're gonna be shooting the same subject, we still have Brock here with his basketball gear and we're just gonna continue on. So just give a quick recap, we've covered the environmental portrait. What it is how it works personal work and all that. The action editorial shoot so kinda having a little bit of movement. Letting Brock dribble around with the ball in the warehouse setting. Lighting that and creating some different portraits with different lenses, different lighting setups. And \now we're gonna move on to the portrait editorial shoot so that'll be again with the white seamless we're gonna do two different setups. One with...

a kind of a hot white background, so I'll explain how we light the white background separate and then light the portrait and all that. So this will be the type of lighting you'd see on a lot of magazine covers like Men's Health, Women's Health, things that where they use that stark white background and it's just a portrait usually of a celebrity or something like that. Picture a three quarter length vertical portrait. Not the most crazy exciting portraits in the world but ones that are highly sellable as far as magazines go and also pretty clear to the point and usable on a lot of different platforms from advertising to editorial to you know whatever it may be. Then we're gonna move on to post processing. You've already seen a little bit of what we do tethering to get that look up front where it gives the coloration, it brings the shadows and highlights into control. Gives us a better idea of what it looks like. But that's far from the polished, finished product. There's still a lot that needs to be done. Whether it's custom Photoshop work, actual color toning to really tweak the image and blend it in how I want it to look and bring the most out of it. So we'll be doing some of that and then again like file folder structure and organization of your computer and all that stuff. Stuff that's not necessarily so fun but is definitely needed to keep everything straight especially once you start taking a lot of pictures. And then again in the next chapters after that we'll talk about our indoor location shoot which we already shot. It's a great location with an artist in her studio. Our outdoor location at the motorcycle garage. Post shoot workflow which again same type of processing but with all the images shot on location and then lastly portfolio and marketing. So that'll be kind of how we tie it all together and what to do with those images once you have them all created and ready to show. So moving forward let's talk about our studio portrait shoot. First off what's the purpose, why are we doing a studio portrait shoot? We just have these great pictures on location, what's the point how are we gonna do it? The actual shoot itself I'll talk about two different lighting setups, maybe more we'll kinda see where it goes. It all depends on the timing and how everything works out as you saw with the last shoot it went pretty smoothly. I'll work through all my thoughts verbally so you can kinda hear what's going through my head. Any thoughts on lighting, posing, camera, the tethering the whole works I'll just basically be thinking out loud so whether you want to hear it or not I'll be saying it. So let's get into the purpose. So purpose of our studio shoot is a couple different things. The first thing is this. Many editorial and advertising shoots require a studio portrait shoot to supplement the environmental work. This holds true. Last year I did a shoot of a triathlete for Men's Health. They wanted shots of him swimming. They wanted shots of him cooking just 'cause he has this diet routine. So those were our environmental shoots but then they also said we don't know what we're gonna put in the table of contents or on the cover image, not of the magazine but of his story, so we really need some shots on white seamless. So again the environmental stuff is what we did earlier but to supplement that they wanted shots just on white seamless. Basic three quarter length stuff. Him smiling and they wanted some personality. Just a couple different looks so that way they could possibly use those. And they did run one of those as a full sized image within the magazine so it was pretty cool and obviously I'm glad I did that seamless shot because it was used and got me a little more coverage. So again many of these clients, they want the stuff with the environment but they also want clean stuff if they have to lay text over it. If they have to use it for other purposes. Even using it to cut out subjects it's easier to cut them out of a white background than some busy convoluted you know warehouse or trees or whatever it may be. So having a nice clean background to work with. And it gives you a little more control but it also adds other aspects 'cause the star then is your subject and your lighting there isn't this environment to build around so you kind of have a blank canvas and you can do whatever you want so for me that's kind of fun but I also like having the parameters and direction that a location gives but the studio is unique in that you can do whatever you want it's just kind of whatever mood and feel you want and what fits you're subject. On top of that like I said these shots may be used for the cover. Table of contents or images to give a clear photo of the subject. Pretty much already said that so we'll keep moving forward. What I wanna do next is actually move right into the shoot portion because I want this, this is the last part of the live shooting for me so I really want to take our time, get a couple good shots of Brock. I want to do some full length stuff, I wanna do some three quarter lengths, I wanna do some close-ups, I wanna do two different lighting setups. I want to start off with that hot white background. I want to do some where we have some harsh shadows. I want to do some with some softer light. So the more we can get in here and the more I can explain to you guys the thoughts that I'm having, the better and the more you'll get out of it as far as what fits your style. Because while I do have a definite style I like to dabble in all different types of lighting. And I think that'll be useful for everybody including myself because every time I shoot whether it's for fun or for pay there's always things you learn about light placement and just things that happen along the way that might not have happened on previous shoots.

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!