Outdoor Model Photography: Capturing Subjects with Landscapes | Stephen Vanasco Aka Van Styles | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Outdoor Model Photography: Capturing Subjects with Landscapes

teacher avatar Stephen Vanasco Aka Van Styles, Photographer & Founder of V/SUAL Apparel

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Project Assignment


    • 3.

      Choosing Location


    • 4.



    • 5.

      Editing Color


    • 6.

      Editing Black & White


    • 7.



    • 8.

      Explore Photo Classes on Skillshare


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Go behind-the-scenes with world-renowned photographer Van Styles as he blends the worlds of model and landscape photography. In this 30-minute class, you’ll learn everything you need to capture a subject and natural landscape in total harmony — from scouting a location to working with your model on the shoot, and finally to selecting and editing your images.

After going through the lessons, you are encouraged to set up a shoot outdoors and create some favorite images of your own. To get started all you will need is a camera, a subject, and a compelling setting. From there, it is on you to execute the photo shoot. Looking forward to seeing your projects!


Van Styles is a Los Angeles based photographer and founder of V/SUAL Apparel.  


Class Outline

  • Introduction. By capturing subjects and the surrounding landscape, you can build a skillset that will apply to a wide range of situations. Whether you're doing something on the side or growing your career, knowing how to use a camera and edit photographs is fun and rewarding.
    Let’s walk through an outline of this class, which features an overview of a few of the skills and insights that you’ll learn throughout it!
  • Project Assignment. Your assignment is to take pictures of models that feature interesting, complementary landscapes. Then once you’re done, you’ll share your best three images.
    Sounds simple, right? The project is actually more multifaceted than you might think. To capture and produce professional-level shots, you will need to learn the logic behind blending people and backgrounds. You will also need to learn how to edit fashion photos, which can be challenging.
  • Choosing a Location. Will this location work? Will the model overpower the landscape or vice versa? The tips in this lesson regarding landscape photography will help you develop instincts about choosing the optimal landscape for your model.
    No matter where you live, there are hundreds of scenes for your subject, including fields, beaches, streets, and rivers. Any setting can enhance a photo that might otherwise be bland. In addition, you will learn another related skill that will serve you well: scouting a location.
  • Shooting. When shooting models in diverse landscapes, you will need to consider many factors, such as color, lighting, jewelry, symmetry, elevation, vanishing points, and shadows.
    As you attempt to take different types of images, you might need to switch lenses. For example, a wide-angle lens might be more ideal for capturing large, natural backgrounds. However, a smaller lens is usually best for close-ups.
    As the shoot continues, remember to improvise. While you’re packing up, a sunset might strike your model in an interesting way. If so, don’t be afraid to snap more photos at the last minute. Bring other outfits so your model can quickly change looks to suit changes in lighting and scenery. This situation is a great opportunity to practice both fashion photography and product photography.
  • Editing Color. Adobe Bridge and Camera Raw are useful applications to learn. By watching Van edit his photos, you will see how this software applies to model photography:
    • Adobe Bridge is a popular tool that helps photographers manage their files.
    • Camera Raw can be instrumental in balancing colors that might pop too much in the original photo.
    • You might also consider using Color Efex Pro.
  • Editing Black & White. Camera Raw has black and white filters that you can use to augment color photos. This function is essential when altering elements of light and shadow. It can make images sharper as well.
    In addition, you will see some examples of cropping and contrast. These skills can be valuable for producing an excellent portrait of a model or non-model.
  • Conclusion. Given the unique number of landscapes in the world, your possibilities are endless. By balancing visual aspects of models, clothing, and backgrounds, you can capture amazing shots and edit them to perfection.  

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Stephen Vanasco Aka Van Styles

Photographer & Founder of V/SUAL Apparel


Stephen Vanasco is a NY-born, LA-raised photographer heavily influenced by the '90s skate scene. Never one to sit and wait for people to give him an opportunity, he took a chance and followed his passion for photography. Now he professionally travels the world for photography and for his brand V/SUAL.

See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: Hello there. This is Ben Styles. I'm a photographer and founder, owner of Visual Apparel. In this class today, we're going to be teaching you how to blend model and landscape photography together, so that they're seamless. Is the location fitting? Should a model there is not want to going to overpower the other? What wardrobe would be a little bit more fitting for that setting? Then, also just when you're onsite, being observant of your surroundings and making the most of it like we did with the interior side we had in last class. We'll also cover the outdoors shooting of the model, how to make her feel comfortable, how to get the most of it, how to inspire her to deliver the best that she can for the photos. We're also going to come back to my studio. We're also going to do some selects on the point on what really catches my eye from the shots I've got today, and as well as one of my processing techniques for these shots. 2. Project Assignment: So, as you guys know, this is a project-based class. I want to see how you guys blend your landscape shots with a model shot. It may not seem like it's a hard thing to do, but trust me, it is to have that fine eye, where both are balanced in your images. Please go out, do that. Have some fun, more importantly while doing it, and then let's all share our best three images from what we've learned, and what we created, and then I look forward to interacting with all you guys online. 3. Choosing Location: So, for today's location, I chose the Sepulveda Basin up in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. One being, it's pretty vast, it's pretty open. I've never actually shot a model there before, so I thought it would be pretty fitting just to do it myself and see what I come up with. It's easily accessible, there's not going to be any crazy hurdles for this class that the models have to deal with or let alone a camera crew. It's a part of the Sepulveda Basin Park. So, it is pretty friendly. People can ride bikes there. People can go hiking there. It's not totally off limits where it's impossible to get to. The elements of this location that actually drew me to it, one was being that it's a little bit of a nature areas. So, there's that contrast, if you could stand, it's going to look like you're in a dirt road, that you're in the backwoods somewhere. Then there's also the point where you walk up to the actual basin itself, which is an amazing architecture design. So, now you have this urban, fine-tuned piece of construction that is just so photographic, that you're going to see why I'd want to shoot there. Certain rules that I have when I'm looking for a possible landscape location to work with the model is, does it have a feeling, does it have a mood there. Emptiness, vastness, can also play a big role in that. It is a lot easier when you can shoot and you're not distracted, and she's not distracted by people walking by, onlookers because obviously, if you're shooting with a model of some kind, there's going to be people who are going to stop and stare, and say stupid things. So, the more secluded, the better. Currently, I'm not so into like everything is heavily tagged up, over the top graffiti, just because sometimes such a busy background you're going to lose the subject matter of your model. It's also keeping in mind, if this area have enough uses for it or if I come with one girl, am I only going to get one look with one setting, or is there multiple options for me to work with, in case that doesn't work out. Also, is this easily accessible for model to get to, some places you can hike to and you can jump through fences and over fences to get to and they're great. But the idea of having a girl who may not be used to doing that, might not be the best move because when you get there, now she's complaining and she might hurt herself doing some of that. I want to take in the setting, the surroundings, and the model together. I think sometimes people focus more so on one or the other and it misses, or the girl can get lost because the location is so massive. You didn't frame it up properly, so now she's minuscule or she's lost. The other thing can be focusing too much on the girl, now the location that you thought was going to be really cool, it's more of just a backdrop that doesn't really have a feeling or have a fit to your photo. So, I think it's really looking at composure, looking at framing, and being able to understand this, is just going to be a great complement to each other versus I'm only seeing this when I'm shooting these two things. 4. Shooting: So, here we are in this pulpit of basin working with Michelle again. If you guys remember her from our first class. I figured I'd make things a lot more seamless and easy just us pairing up together again to show you guys some stuff. When I was walking around here the other day prior to our shoot taking note of what's around me, this pathway caught my eye. Lends itself to symmetry, has a little bit of a vanishing point, big landscape shot. You got clouds, you got trees, dirt and the ground that we're at right now is a little bit elevated so you kind of have a higher perspective shooting out than you would being level. Making my way down, since I was getting closer. I needed a wider lens to get more into my image. So, I switched to a 24 millimeter being that the road has some symmetry to it with the tire paths. The setting worked well for that, and I also would do some steps to the left, to the right just to offset it, give it a little bit of a rules of third kind of setting here. This area over here caught my eye. This was almost just like an isolated backdrop for her. You have the layer of the dirt angling up, you have the hill of the rocks kind of going from skinny to wider and then you have this blue sky. So, I think it's really going to pop when you have the blue color, her contrasting with the rocks and all of this. I start off with a 90 millimeter. Again, being farther back allowed me to kind of create some depth to the image. Then obviously again as I went in closer I switched back to the 24 which just allows you to pull more in while you're being a little bit more intimate with your subject shooting. Then this one I really liked because you have the road going up in the back, the hillside then there's the rocks vanishing off into the distance. So, as we kept walking in through the basin, making our way over to the dam, we rounded a corner that caught my eye. Just being at this time of day, the way the sun was hitting, it was almost like a direct overhead. So, you had one side to the right that was completely shadowed in contrast, and the other side to the left which is very bright and vibrant from the sun. I felt it was also a good time for an outfit change. While the first outfit she had was cute, I don't think it really would have lent itself to be good for this setting so we threw in a black one piece just to give it a little bit more of an edge feeling. Also for me, it's just so bright and barren right here that the black is going to be a great contrast and it allows me to do some cool shadow play with it. These were some fun shots just playing with the contrast and the vanishing point on the wall. Again, trying to make use of everything that's around here. I was shooting this way and framing out the actual dam itself. So, it's almost like a totally different setting, a totally different place that I'm at. As we started we kind of worked our way around. Now, I had a long vanishing point. I had the chain link fence, the barbed wire, the bright blue sky as well. Here, I had the cool texture of this wall. So, I thought we're pretty much wrapped up with this set. I was checking out the photos. Michelle had a sweater on and I saw her walking away and I thought, even though the sweater is from the first look, it actually it was cool mixing it with just seeing the hills on this look and It goes back to no matter where you're at or what you're doing, whether it's studio, whether it's outdoors, whether it's indoor settings of any kind, always keep shooting. If you see something really cool usually it happens without it being forced or even thought of just with the sweater, the setting and everything, I thought that was a real cool shot and I'd be foolish not to get it. So, after working with Michelle in the one piece that she had on, we did another wardrobe change, a bit more of a sportier look. There is I would guess you call it an archway maybe in the dam that caught my eye. So, we decided to run up it and see how the shots would look from up there. I thought it was pretty cool looking because in each section there was these black painted archways that worked well for a backdrop but just also even just as a shape, a figure to add into the shoot. I was able to get a little bit of the fields in the back, which I thought were pretty cool looking. After doing a couple of test shots and figuring out where I want her to be for lighting, I also noticed that the way the sun was coming in was a little bit diffuse at this point. So, it wasn't as harsh but it also added a really nice glow to my right, her left side of her body while shooting. Keeping in that same idea that I was doing with the rocks earlier, I tried to make sure that the concrete pillar in the back of her remained as a backdrop versus letting her fall into the sky. I feel like that definitely kept her in frame, kept the focal point on her well while still keeping some of the greens and the colors of the background. Now, it always makes up my shots. I'll try some shots that are a little under exposed, a little bit overexposed and something right in the middle. So, remember we're trying her leg right outside the shadow. Just the way the sun was coming and I really loved it. So, then, we went from the one area that was pretty shaded to the other area with the black arches and I think this is really where the idea of them as a backdrop or as a shape really shine with the bright direct sun on it. It was more effective than trying to do that in the shade. So again, it might not be a massive landscape thing in the background, but just understanding. If I were to have shot a little bit tighter, you wouldn't even be able to tell what the shape was and I think it adds to the photo, makes a little bit cooler. These ones I liked as well because you're still getting her and in the background, you're getting a different perspective of the fields in the back. These shots it was really feeling because also the balance of the lighting allowed to keep the highlights of the sky in the back. You get the clouds, you're getting some cool looks for sure. Again, going back to the motion of just being observant of what you're shooting, when she was putting on the sweatshirt, I asked her to do it again just because I liked how it looked when she was doing it versus posing it just looks a little bit cooler with her actually doing it versus that. Again, I love the back lighting because you get these cool sunburst that would come in. Add a little bit more flavor to the shoot. That's a good thing just being observed in the time of day. I definitely didn't plan on this, but just when I realized where we're at and what was going on, part of being efficient is the ability to jump into it and see what's there and get it while you can get it. After getting the wider shots I decided to move in a little bit more. So, playing up a mixture of the concrete and the fields in the background. Again, just trying the perspectives out. So, this one I stood up a little bit higher than her doing a portrait framing and just to make sure I did some shots against a black backdrop. These ones are pretty cool because you're still getting the fields in the background. She's evenly lit because she's in the shade. Again, just making use of the space and getting some basic portrait. Just before we're totally done, I just want to make sure I got what I wanted to get from the sun flare. Then try and do a little bit of symmetry lining her up with the shape in the background. As I was shooting this, I noticed that I was able to get bits of the bridge above in the shot and then right there I think that's where the framing, I was really happy with. Because I was framing out the rusted metal that I don't think it was too flattering to the shoot. It's also cool to leave enough space to crop with a bit if you need to. I'm not one to normally shoot with some really telephoto lenses, but I thought being there I might as well give it a go. So, I put on a 135 millimeter backed up away, just to see what I can get. It's fun to shoot at different focal lengths because it's going to teach you how to look at things a lot differently. Meaning that I was pretty low, she was pretty high up. What grabbed me was the shape again, the concrete and a little bit of the sky. I also loved the way her shadow was falling onto the wall from the sun. This one was pretty cool because you pretty much, I've framed out the sky and everything else was just the concrete, but given the distance it's almost like a landscape shot mixed in with it. Again, being observant to the surrounding by the time we got down from the dam, I noticed that the light was still good for backlighting and there's like some shadowing going on. We just tried to take advantage of it but by the time she did the change at that moment it was softening up which was still fine because it was still perfect for what we're doing. The same thing shooting with a 24 millimeter, you're able to get in a little bit tighter to your subject but still retain what's going on in the background and whether it's the structure, whether it's landscape you're going to be able to see all that. Here I remember the sun was coming up a little bit stronger, gave me some more kind of a dynamic lighting situation and again making use of the sun flares, being that she was backlit. Also like to just say that once you understand your cameras dynamic range, you understand a lot of that, you can pull off some pretty amazing shoots like on your own. I know everyone likes to have reflectors that have assistance and all these people but I think once you understand a lot of things you really don't need all those distractions on a shoot and still get a pretty good look. For this set, I remember, I just kind of want to step back a little bit from the dam. Shoot a straight on. Maybe get a little bit of symmetry and segments. So, again with the 24, I thought some of these shots were pretty interesting. I'm not too far away where you're losing her, retaining some width to the structure behind her. Also, I remember when I was shooting this, what caught my eye was the line of the arch in the background, kind of like top with her head. Again, it's kind of me just making a little backdrop of the setting. Given that this is a pretty massive dam behind her, I decide to switch out to a 90 millimeter for a few shots just to test out see if I liked it. I thought it was pretty interesting but I wanted to make sure I got more what's behind her in it. What caught my eye also was the shadow falling in front of her. So, it's almost interesting because you get your eye scans up the photo you're going to see the shadow, her and then this unique structure behind her. I thought when I was framing this there are some amazing elements with the sun. A horizontal landscape shot. Switching over to vertical still retaining some of that. So, when I was back shooting, I thought the frame was pretty good but I realize if I walked in just a little bit more now that column behind her she fills it more. So, it's less dead space and almost isolates her right in there, so I thought that looks a lot better than the other way. The one thing I will say, if you do decide you want to really open up your lens and blur out the background if you're shooting in a set of something, as long as you establish what's in the background and most your images I think it's okay because with something like this the line still make sense. You still know what it is. You still grasping, so it's not totally out of left field. All right. So, thank you guys again for taking your time out to check out this class, to view it. I hope you found it insightful, I hope you found it helpful and I hope that it shows why it's important to have a great working relationship with a model like I do with Michelle, I think we can both agree on that. Doesn't look like it but it's really cold right now she's been a trooper through the whole thing, doing all these different looks and sets and dealing with it all. That's such a key thing to have a good working relationship with someone. I hope you guys learned a lot and I can't wait to see what you guys put out. Peace. 5. Editing Color: All right guys. So I've imported my images from today's shoot to my drive. I already went ahead and made some selects. So now I'm going to go through a few steps of processing, some of the curated images from each output we did today. So, let's get this going. We're going to start off with the first image, is from the first set that we did with the little roadway made into the grass. Once again, I'm going through Bridge for my selects into Camera Raw. Same process that I would use before my first class, I use again. I'd go in and check the lens correction if I need it, I didn't need it with this lens. I also go in, check the white balance as I shoot raw. Sometimes the auto white balance is a little bit better than the actual as shot white balance. Actually, like the auto, it's a little bit of a warmer tone, but that's going to change anyway. Since I was shooting with my M240, I'm going to go into my some VSCO presets, and then adjust them after I get the tone that I'm looking for. So shooting outside can be a little tricky. You're dealing with harsh light. You're dealing with shadows. You're dealing with a lot of things that are tough to control especially if you're not trying to use a reflector or any kind of bounce boards or anything like that. I was shooting at a base ISO, meaning a pretty low one. I was at 200, because the dynamic range. As always for me it's like if you shoot the base ISO, shoot a little bit under and then when you're processing images you're going to have more room to play with, such as playing with highlights and shadows because it's a tough thing to balance out the sky and someone that's shaded. So I put Michelle in the shade for this shot just so she'd be more evenly lit than not. So as you can see, I'm just adjusting the highlights and shadows, playing with it. Right now, I'm just playing with the temperature to see where I want it to be. We're going to go back into my curves and play around a little bit more with some of the highlights, see what I can do. It's always important to just play with adjustments and see what you come up with. We're going to open it up now to Photoshop. So obviously my sensor was a little dirty. So, I'm going go in, pull up my healing brush tool, just to get rid of the spot right there. So I'm also going to show something else that I use once in a while. Before my first class I talked about Nik software and Silver Efex Pro 2 for being a great black and white conversion. They also have another program called Color Efex which is usually a good one. I use this tool sometimes when I'm shooting outdoors. They have a graduated neutral density plugin which if you shoot with those, you can balance out the highs and lows pretty easily as you're shooting away. Since those don't really work well unlike as the range finders, I use this sometimes to do that. So, with this plug-in, I can adjust the vertical shift of it, and you can see it allows me to bring in the sky a little bit more but I just see where the balance is first. So this little tool is not VSCO, it's not whatever one might be used to using, but as you can see there it is with it. There it is without it. So, I think it's a pretty awesome tool considering if you don't want to shoot with that neutral density it's this stuff in big difference. So I'm noticing something I got to lift it up a little bit more. There you go. Cool, I think that's probably good. Go back of a little right there. This is a great thing because it's pretty much just a plugin through Photoshop. It just creates a new layer. If you don't like it, you could always take it off. If you want to add it later, you can add it later. But as you can see, it just makes the photo that much more better and again there's a lot of amazing tools these days that allow you to create images that otherwise you would have needed assistance, you would have needed all different types of equipment. So it's just being able to understand what's available to you and making the best use of it as you can. The same as before, I usually will go in with my little healing brush tool and just going to take out some minor blemishes. Then one last thing before I think I'm totally done, I'll bring up the curves again in Photoshop, and I just want to auto and see what it comes up with. This one's a little bit more in contrast and vibrant. Let's do that one more time. This is how I'm setting it to auto, I'm just going to pull it down a tiny bit. It's not a huge difference to most people but to me I see it, so okay. I think that's pretty much how I would process this first set. When I was mentioning earlier, I like these, I'm not sure exactly what you call them but these yellow plants, flowers, to the left of the frame, making you look to the right. You see the dirt path behind her from the truck. You see her, you see the path vanishing off. You have the trees wrapping around her from left to right, you have the sky. So, I think this is a very good example of shooting and balancing out the landscape along with her. 6. Editing Black & White: This was a fun shot from today, this was against the corner in the black one piece. Again, so, an ISO 200 Fstop was a 6.8, shutter was 1,000 and then, I'll shoot the 24 to capture all this. So, usually when I'm not wide, I do have to do a lens correction to it, go to auto, see how this looked. So, for this one, I remember being pretty into the shadows, which I think I'm going try to take advantage of in black and white for this one. So, it was a cool moment to find this because you had the harsh sunlight coming in from one way, then you had the shadow going down the other way of the corner. Let's go here. Do a little auto, see what that did. I'm pretty much a fan of it. I'm going to bump up the sharpening a little tiny bit. Black and white is fine because you just have to look at it differently, changing your eyes, changing what you're looking for. Like this, turn it up a little bit more. Bring the blackstone. See what the contrast looks more which way or the other. I like it more with a little bit of a heavier contrast to it. The good thing with someone with direct sunlight with Michelle, they have tan skin and just comes off a little bit more olive. Especially the black and white like that. I think that's pretty good for what I had in mind. Let's do one more last little adjustment. I like the shadow just a little. So, you get a tiny bit of her hair and everything else. Can you go in and get these spots off my lens. You need to clean your sensor from time to time. So, I'll also pull out the crop tool just to straighten it up. I'm going to try use the line on the corner as a thing for that. So, this is a pretty easy image, I think for the most part it's good. I'm just going to punch in my healing brush tool again, see what minor blemishes I can remove. Once again, I'm not a huge fan of reshaping girls and making them look totally different than how they are in reality. I don't really like how this one came out as a cool vintage feel to it. Sometimes I'll pull the image back just to get a better gauge of spots I might have missed. Yeah. So, I think that's definitely good gauge of where I'd go with this image. One last time to make sure, I feel like it's straight enough to me, a little more. Now, that works, and then one last play with the curve, see what it does. Makes a little bit more contrast. Yeah, I like a little bit more softer look right there. I think that's where I go with that set. 7. Conclusion: So, after shooting this day, and getting some different looks, I'd like to think that all the sets that I did were cohesive in the subject matter of today. Dealing with different settings for landscape architecture. Learning to balance the model with composition, framing, lighting, without one losing more than the other. This is something that I definitely would like to see from some of you guys in your projects that you submit. Again, you don't have to follow letter for letter, but it's open to interpretation. I'm just trying to give you guys, maybe something you might not have noticed or might not have looked at before, giving you something to run with to create your own. So, guys, please, I have to express this. It's really awesome being able to do another class with SkillShare, being able to, hopefully, help out some people, maybe show you guys something you might not have seen before. I had a lot of fun going through the first class and seeing the projects that you guys turned in, and I'm really excited to go through the second one to see what you guys come up with. There's different kinds of landscapes, cityscapes, architecture across the world. I'm looking forward to see what you guys can come up with blending model with this kind of setting. Can't wait. 8. Explore Photo Classes on Skillshare: