An environmental portrait shows the subject encompassed in its surroundings. It reveals a habitat in which it belongs, lives, works, or plays. It provides a visual representation of what the human or wildlife subject does or who it is. Environmental portraits are frequently used in magazines, newspapers and by photojournalists recording images for varied publications. In a single capture, it should tell a complete story about the subject.
The primary difference between a standard portrait and an environmental one is two fold: a standard portrait depicts the subject from full frame down to a typical headshot and a long lens is often used with a wide open aperture to throw the background out of focus. To make an environmental portrait, a wide angle is used to include the surroundings and the lens is stopped down to a small aperture so all compositional elements are in focus.
A wide angle lens provides a wide angle of view so more can be included in the photo. If you work indoors, it’s essential one is used due to the cramped spaces in which you’ll work. For instance, a writer’s office may be small. It’s necessary to show him or her woking at the computer along with other important elements within the space to create a successful environmental portrait. A small aperture provides a lot of depth of field so everything is sharp. Be sure to mount the camera on a tripod to prevent camera shake.