Studio or Outdoor Portrait Photography

So, you’re done your research, you’ve chosen a photographer whose style you adore and you’re getting ready to book your portrait session. You’ve started to envision what you will look like and what you will wear, but then they ask you a question: “Indoor or outdoor?”

Most people default to outdoor because that’s what they’re used to and see most often, but have you ever wondered what it would be like to have an indoor portrait session? Maybe you’ve seen a few on my socials and have wondered if they’re an option for you. The good news: There’s no wrong decision here! But, there are a few things to consider.

I’ve been doing photography for about 5 years now and I have a love for both studio portraits and outdoor portraits. I want to help you make the best decision for you. When we have a phone consultation, we chat about how you envision your session. Are your dream photos posed with elegance, or free-spirited and running around with your kids? Is this for a headshot, milestone, family portraits, or senior pictures? Do you want their images to feel more lifestyle or classical art? There are so many questions that go into a setup for pictures, but I find that some sessions work better outdoor and some work better indoor. Let’s break it down!


Musnter, Indiana Studio Portrait by Brielle Pausma Photography
Studio portrait in Munster, Indiana

Studio photos are great when you are looking to get headshots done and really capture the essence of a 1-3 people. They can be powerful and striking images that tell a story in a single shot. They are classic and elegant with a purpose for why each image was chosen. Some of the benefits of doing a studio session are not having to worry about the weather outside. There could be tornado warnings and it wouldn’t affect the way your hair looks indoors. Lighting is always on point whether you are looking for something dramatic or bright and you never have to worry about bugs or dirt.

I love taking studio portraits because of how much a single image can draw you in. The way the light shines over your face and brings a sparkle to the eye is much easier to do when there is complete control over the session. Studio photography reminds me of classical artwork such as the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci. If that is the vibe you are going for, then studio portraits are best for you! They are great for senior photography, headshots, and children’s portraits.


Outdoor sessions are best for those looking for a lifestyle approach to their images. Personality of each individual really shines outside and allows kids to be themselves. Outdoor sessions make for great storybooks. Each image can stand alone, but when you combine all the movements it can create your own personal story. Some of the best parts of having a session outside is being able to run around, be loud, and have the beautiful creation within your images. My favorite time for outdoor sessions is during the summer months when all the greenery is fully bloomed, and the sun shines bright in the sky.

One of the biggest downfalls to outdoor portrait sessions is dealing with the weather, especially in Northwest Indiana where I am from. I often like to claim the Midwest as being bipolar. We can have a beautiful 75-degree day, and then randomly have snow the next in the springtime. There could also be a forecasted beautiful day, and then out of the blue, rainstorms! It can make planning really hard, and it is best to be flexible when counting on the outdoors for your dream session.

I love doing outdoor sessions because I find them to be more natural and in your own element. I love taking pictures of dads twirling their daughters around, families walking through a forest together, or getting all cuddled up on a beautiful lace blanket. I find outdoor sessions to be best for family portraits, seniors, and children’s portraits.

Combined Portrait Session:

Now, what about a combination of studio and outdoor? I have done plenty of seniors and children’s portraits where we did a combined session. Typically, we would start indoors with studio lighting and classical poses in elegant clothing that may not want to get dirty outside. After about 30 minutes, there is often an outfit change, and we would head outside to another location. I love combination sessions because it allows you to have a wide variety of images and gives you more options to pick from.

Ultimately you cannot go wrong with a studio or outdoor session. Both are absolutely stunning in their own way, and you should go with a session that fulfills your vision. So, what do you think? Is a studio Session what you are looking for? Or is being free in the great outdoors more your jam.

Feel free to get in touch with me and we can start planning out your perfect session!


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