Outdoor vs Indoor Headshots—Which is Better?

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There are various ways to shoot headshots for clients but one factor you should take into consideration for future shoots is whether you will take it outdoors or indoors. 

Even experts debate about whether you should go inside to a studio or let the outdoors be your background. There is no ‘best’ choice per se; it will depend on preference. So, let’s break it down so you can see which is the better option for you.

What is Your Budget?

Let’s help you make the easy decision if you’re working on a tight budget. Hiring a studio is a much more expensive option than simply looking for an outdoor venue or area.

When beginner photographers scout for dynamic outdoor venues they can offer more affordable packages to customers looking for budget options. And don’t worry, the images will still look great. The photographer only cuts back on the cost of hiring space, purchasing backdrops and getting expensive lighting equipment. Often, natural light is the way to go. 

Can You Guarantee Optimal Conditions?

Whether it’s for an actor’s portfolio or a business profile, a natural look is usually what you’re after. The person who views the photo should be able to identify with the subject. But you don’t want a red nose or forehead spoiling the image. This is the challenge of working outside if it’s very cold or very hot with the sun beating down. If controlling the shoot is important then you need to opt for indoor headshot photography.

The Matter of Light

Speaking of light: You probably know this is one of the most important aspects of taking the perfect photograph. There are pros and cons for both options here, so pick the one most beneficial to your scenario:

  • In most circumstances outdoor lighting is better than artificial light.
  • Artificial light can seem very clinical.
  • You can’t control the light outdoors while you can angle light in a very specific manner in a studio.

General Logistics

Once again, there’s no clear winner in this department. When you opt for the outdoors you’re not limited to a building. The client and photographer can meet up anywhere which limits travel expenses.

However, when outside you don’t have control over the circumstances. You may have passers-by accidentally walking into a shot or causing you to lose focus. For inexperienced photographers or subjects, having an audience can cause some tension which is bound to show in the quality of the images.

In a studio you have the benefit of a dressing room, mirrors and technical equipment already set up. This makes for easy wardrobe changes and checking images on a large screen to see if you captured the magic you were after.

Getting Creative

Of course, a very clinical approach is not ideal either. If the purpose for the headshots will benefit from some creativity you should consider going outside for at least some of the photographs.

The fresh air, colours and space outside tend to spark more energy & creativity from subjects and photographers. You’re bound to find more than one usable background in one location so you’ll have more options to pick from when it comes to selecting the best shots of the day.

Skill Matters Too

Before you embark on your photography expedition you should be honest about the skill of the photographer. He or she will deliver the best shots in the environment they’re comfortable with. A studio photographer will take some time getting used to managing the many variables in the outdoors.

However, even amateur photographers find it easier to get high quality images in the outdoors thanks to the beneficial lighting. This is easier than setting up lighting equipment. Expertly using artificial lights is a skill that develops over time.

So, consider which of these factors play a role in your scenario, weigh up your odds and you’ll find the better option.