When shooting portraiture for me the subject’s natural environment often produces the desired outcome.
Whether it be at home, in the office, or wherever they feel the most comfortable. Additionally my preference is for natural light, open shade especially, falling on skin tones to give softer overall appearance; bright sunlight is to be avoided if you desire soft portraits.
Those who prefer to shoot in a studio environment may argue controlled lighting more conducive to the finished image and for certain shoots this is acceptable, in the end it’s all subjective, the debate continues.
Location shots will usually present themselves well when chosen carefully. This can be a city backdrop or landscape. After all it’s the subject we wish to capture not the background. However, using a long focal lens and getting away from the subject will render the background blurred and unobtrusive giving an almost 3D effect to the subject by separating subject from background.
Then there is the question of enhancement or retouching. Most people know this as ‘photoshop me’. Once again there is plenty of discourse on post shoot processing of images but it becomes necessary when looking to eliminate skin blemishes or reducing facial lines.
Skin tones often need lifting or deepening depending on the desired outcome, in mono [black and white] the use of shadows can be a powerful influence on the viewer’s interpretation. Highlighting hair is also a consideration as too brightening eyes and moistening lips. All performed to give a pleasing end result without altering the overall image authenticity.
In portraiture those being photographed like to look their best, or look as natural as possible to their surroundings. Hence image enhancement has its place.
Personally I prefer not to use studio but rather organise to be at the subject’s home/office/work place for corporate images which tell the story of their work. For model photography then its location work and I am lucky to have many wonderful locations where I live.