Top Tips for Taking Incredible Forest Portraits

Capturing incredible portraits in the forest can be an enchanting and rewarding experience for the amateur and seasoned photographer alike. Forests offer a magical and ethereal backdrop that can elevate portraits to a whole new level.

However, taking forest portraits comes with its own set of challenges, from lighting conditions to composition. Below, we’ll explore a set of our top tips for capturing stunning forest portraits that showcase the natural beauty of both the subject and the woodland setting.

  1. Your best lighting is often at the edge of the forest

When taking forest portraits, understanding lighting is crucial. While the dense canopy of trees can create beautiful diffused light in some areas, the best lighting is often found at the edge of the forest.

Here, you’ll find a mix of light and shadow, allowing for more dynamic and flattering shots. The soft, natural light filtering through the trees’ leaves can create a gentle glow that beautifully illuminates your subject while adding depth to the overall composition.

  1. Look for streaks of light


Within the forest, look for streams of light breaking through the canopy. These streaks of light can produce mesmerising effects in your portraits.

As the sunlight dances through the leaves, it creates a magical atmosphere, adding a touch of enchantment to the image. These light streaks can also act as leading lines, drawing the viewer’s eye towards the subject and creating a sense of movement and intrigue.

  1. Consider keeping it moody

Embrace the moody and mysterious ambiance that forests can provide. Overcast days or periods of light rain can cast a beautiful, soft light over the forest, making it an ideal time for portraits.

The diffused light and subdued colors can give your images a captivating and emotional quality.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different exposures and post-processing techniques to enhance the moody atmosphere of your forest portraits.

  1. Find foregrounds and frames

Use the elements within the forest to add depth and interest to your portraits. Incorporate foreground elements like branches, leaves, or flowers to frame your subject and draw attention to them.

These natural frames can add a three-dimensional feel to the image, making it more engaging for the viewer.


See how we’ve kept it moody, while also applying the foregrounds of leaves and branches? Notice the streaks of light too 😉

Experiment with different angles and compositions to find the perfect balance between your subject and the surrounding environment.

  1. Consider adding your own flash for separation

In dense forest environments, the subject can sometimes blend into the background. To avoid this, consider using an external flash to add a pop of light and separate the subject from the surroundings.

This technique can be particularly effective when shooting in areas with heavy shade or during low-light conditions. By using the flash strategically, you can highlight the subject while still preserving the natural ambiance of the forest.

  1. Consider staying above the trees

For a different perspective, consider climbing to higher vantage points that allow you to shoot above the forest canopy.

This bird’s-eye view can create a unique and striking portrait. You can capture the subject within the context of the vast forest, showcasing the interplay of light and shadows on the tree canopy.

This approach can result in a breathtaking and memorable image that stands out from traditional forest portraits.

Final words from Linda on taking forest portraits

Each forest has its own unique character and charm, offering an endless array of opportunities for evoking emotions through your photography. Whether it’s the soft, dreamy light filtering through the canopy or the mystical ambiance of a fog-filled morning, embrace the diverse moods that nature presents to you.

Remember, innovation lies in experimentation. Don’t hesitate to challenge conventions and explore unconventional angles or lighting techniques. Your willingness to push boundaries and adapt will lead you to discover your signature style in forest portraiture.

Keep honing your skills, seeking new inspiration, and embracing the allure of the forests as you embark on your quest to create incredible portraits amidst the woodland’s embrace.

Happy shooting!


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