This past weekend I shot an engagement session with a good friend of mine and his lovely fiancée at Mashes Sands on the Gulf Coast of North Florida. John and Jackie are getting married in early October 2009 in North Carolina (I’ll be shooting that as well) and I just wanted to share with you some of the images from that day – and include a bit of advice on outdoor portrait photography.
In Florida, we are blessed (or cursed) with a lot of very bright sunlight, which makes good professional outdoor portraits seem sometimes impossible. As a photographer who prefers outdoor portraits to all other kinds of portraiture, all the elements that I hope and wish for came together for this session. An early evening with clouds – particularly when threatening rain – often gives us a beautifully diffused light… especially when still in that “golden hour” that all of us photographers adore.


With this in mind – I was able to shoot with the simplest of all set-ups. Nothing more than a very slight fill-in flash to clean up any shadows. No reflectors, off-shoe flash, or special filters. Clean and simple – just the way I like it!
In closing this brief blog – I’d like to share a quick outdoor beach portrait photography lesson. First ask yourself – what makes these images so clean and simple. The secluded beach? Pretty landscape and clouds as a backdrop? Sure – in part. Everyone loves a good landscape, but it’s only a minor part in this series.

It is in the clothes and relaxed easiness of this couple’s poses. Organic colors and textures (I mean that as in “earthy” tones without strong patterns) that compliment the background instead of competing for attention. This can make or break an outdoor portrait. These colors are easy on the eyes, the clean and clear beach add a feeling of informality and repose, and an attractive young couple completes the composition.Keep it simple, pay attention to details, and most of all – have fun with it!
Rich Leighton
September 21, 2009

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