Your environment can provide fantastic elements for framing your portraits. In this video, I’ll walk through how use nature to frame your environmental portraits with a kick of off-camera flash to tie it together.

Video: Using Nature to Frame Your Environmental Portraits

Framing with nature is one of my favorite concepts for capturing environmental portraits. I’ve covered this topic before, but this time, I’ll be adding in a kick of off-camera flash to accent the light on my subjects.

For this tutorial, I’ll be shooting with a Canon EOS R5. I recommend a wide angle lens for this type of shot so I’ll be using my Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L at fully wide. You’ll also need a flash like my Profoto A10. However, for daylight settings, I recommend a higher output such as the Profoto B10. Tie it all together with a MagMod MagShoe as well as a Manfrotto Nanostand and we’re good to go! Let’s get started.

Related Reading: Simple Trick for Better Portrait Compositions

Find the Composition

Cactus are quite common here in Southern California and I’ll be using one to frame my portrait. I got down low and found a clean opening between the cactus leaves where I’ll be placing my subjects.

Set the Ambient Light

environmental portraits composition ambient light
Captured at 1/200 sec, f/11, ISO 50

Because there’s so much detail in the frame, I’ll have to add light to draw the focus to my wonderful couple, Harrison and Taylor. I set my exposure to leave room for the flash as well as to stay out of high-speed sync.

Add/Modify Light

I placed my Profoto A10 behind my couple to the left. I focused the light on Taylor to allow the light to bounce off their shirts and create a nice fill. It’s also a stylistic preference of mine to keep the guy in the dark and allow the focus of the image to be on the girl.

Capturing the Final Portrait

The subtle highlights from the A10 helps draw the attention to our couple.

The difference between no flash and with flash is subtle, however, that accent allows Harrison and Taylor to pop a bit more out of the frame. For a more dramatic effect, a flash with more power will be necessary to overpower the sunlight.

environmental portraits close

environmental portraits wide

Here are the final images, edited using Visual Flow’s Mood Presets.


I hope you enjoyed this article/video. Next time you’re out on a shoot in nature, be sure to look around for interesting elements to frame your environmental portraits. For a full course on how to use off-camera flash, check out the Flash Photography Training System on SLR Lounge Premium. You can also visit Visual Flow for a full library of intuitive Lightroom presets and retouching tools.

Don’t miss our next episode of Mastering Your Craft on Adorama’s YouTube channel next week! If you want to catch up on all the episodes, make sure you check out our playlist!