Model in alley

Workshop Summary

July 23, 2022 – The Urban Portrait: Location portraiture techniques in urban environments
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
One-Day portrait photography workshop
Start: 8:00am / Concludes: 4:30pm
Main Topics Include: Creating masterful portraits outdoors on location in an urban setting. Location and background selection, posing, composition, location lighting techniques, identifying and evolving your portrait style, challenges and rewards of photographing in urban environments.

What to Expect

This full-day workshop thoroughly covers the basics of location portraiture for the beginning, intermediate, or advanced portrait photographer who would like to develop skill creating professional-caliber portraits outdoors in urban settings. We’ll thoroughly explore important topics of location portraiture, while you create photographs with live models in streets, alleys, sidewalks, courtyards, and other urban areas.

Key topics covered will include, but not be limited to:
Location and background selection considerations critical for impactful portraits
Posing subjects and models to highlight their best traits
– Composition for high-impact portraits
– Optimizing available light
– Background control
– Lighting techniques including the use of reflectors, speedlights, strobes, and modifiers
– Camera and lens choice for portraiture
– Creating and/or evolving your own signature portrait photography “style”
– Overcoming challenges unique to photographing people in urban environments.

As you will observe in the images on this page, my own portrait style is what is generally referred to as “editorial lifestyle.” I tend to not prefer formal poses and lighting, opting instead for a more true-to-life, care-free “vibe” in my portrait images. We’ll discuss how to achieve this, but will also explore more formal posing and lighting styles than what I typically employ in my own work.

The day will be broken into alternating segments of “classroom” discussion and hands-on photography featuring carefully-selected models from the area. Multiple models will be present, with the exact number depending on the number of registered participants.

Participants will depart at the end of the day with a solid collection of model-released portraits that can be used to start or enhance a portrait portfolio.

The workshop will still be held in the event of light or sporadic rain. In the event of heavy rain, the rain date will be Sunday, July 24.

A liability waiver will be sent to all participants at registration – a signed returned liability form will be required from each participant prior to the workshop.

The workshop will be limited to a maximum of 10 participants.


Our classroom for this workshop will be streets, alleyways, sidewalks, courtyards, and other public urban areas in Des Moines, Iowa.

Who Should Attend

This workshop is open to portrait photographers using DSLR or Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras of all skill levels, who are familiar with their camera and its settings. You will need to know how to change settings such as ISO, focus mode, exposure mode, and lens aperture on your particular camera model.

What to Bring

A detailed gear list will be emailed to participants upon registration. Participants will at a minimum want to bring:
– a DSLR or Mirrorless camera and lens
– a fully charged camera battery (and a spare, if you have one)
– memory card

Food and Drink

Please plan to bring a lunch – we’ll break mid-day to eat lunch as a group. We’ll also hold a general Q&A session at this time. Bottled water and snacks will be available throughout the day.

Physical Activity Level

This workshop will require moderate physical activity, with fairly extensive walking. Participants will need to be able to walk carrying their camera and other gear between locations in our urban setting, and to stand for up to 30 minutes at a time.

Covid Safety

COVID safety protocols will be emphasized, as we work as a socially-distanced group to photograph throughout the day.

Post Workshop Image Review

In past years, we debriefed at the end of each workshop day to review and discuss images from the day. Currently, I’m using Zoom to host an image review session from each workshop, a few days after the event. We’ll schedule this during an evening or the weekend following the workshop, giving each participant time to cull, select, and edit some favorite photos from the workshop. We’ll each share a few photos from the day, and I and other participants will provide feedback. This session is included with your workshop registration.

Workshop Date and Time

Saturday, July 23, 2022
Start Time: 8:00am
End Time: 4:30pm


$199.00 per person, includes model fees and water/snacks throughout the day.

Sorry, Registration Closed – for updates on the next offering of this workshop, and other workshop news, please subscribe to my email list at the bottom of the Calendar page. Thanks for your interest!