Environmental Portraiture


Tell a person’s story, or at least a part of it, in a photograph.

In essence, that’s how I view the genre of environmental portraiture.


During a working visit to Yukon

These portraits are created in the subject’s environment; at their home, workplace or where they spend their time in recreation.  The idea is to tell something about them and their life.

Each individual is more than a copy of their physical likeness or features.

Photographing people in their natural surroundings allows the portrait to portray the essence of who they are.  Although these portraits are posed, they fit somewhere between being candid and the studio-style portrait.

The photographer should take some time to get to know a bit about the person and how they spend their time.  This is done to get more of an idea of the subject’s personality and how to capture it.

Choosing the location is important.  As stated earlier, it can help tell the story of who the person being photographed is.  Care must be taken that the location doesn’t dominate the image and become the subject itself.

During their stay in Whitehorse, Yukon

Subtle props and appropriate attire to the environment also assist in the creation of a successful environmental portrait.

The self-portrait below is one example of environmental portraiture.   It tells the story of my interest in photography and gives insight into the fact that I work in digital format.

For those who know me well the glint of reflected light to the left of the monitor will remind them of the coffee cup that is, invariably, with me.

In my digital darkroom

My own preference for environmental portraiture exists because of the opportunity it provides to give much more than an image of how someone looked at one point in time.  An enduring story of that individual’s life and existence is created for generations to come learn and enjoy.

This is the kind of portrait that becomes a family heirloom.

Please visit my main website or comment below or contact me with any questions you may have.

Norm Hamilton is a freelance writer and photographer based in Whitehorse.


2 Responses to Environmental Portraiture

  1. stock says:

    Hey Norm, come help us fight against nuclear, it is neither clean nor green nor even economical.


    • Norm says:

      Thanks for your concern for the environment. While the “environment” you speak of is not the same as what I write about in environmental portraiture, I agree with your sentiment. I actively encourage wind-powered and solar-powered energy and have been a supporter of things that protect the environment for decades.

      I’ve written a novel, From Thine Own Well that deals with a dystopian Canadian society resulting from unregulated fracking and irresponsible mining practices.

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