The concept of an environmental portrait goes beyond the staged and posed setup. Here’s an example of an environmental portrait of a fire chief while on-scene at a fire. This was not posed or planned. It was an exercise in photojournalism that crossed into the realm of candid portraiture.
While on-scene at a large fire in Broadview, IL, I spotted the Broadview fire chief in a very dramatic setting. I was using a long lens which kept me in an unobtrusive position. Because of the low light scene, I was already set to a wide aperture for shallow depth of field. This worked beautifully with the cadre of bright and colorful lights that make up the background. Having the colors blur together along with the blown out highlights on the fire truck work together to create the makings of a silhouette. By adjusting my exposure compensation to +2/3, I was able to further wash out the background while making sure that I had sufficient light on his face. Add the shallow depth of field to the mixture, and his near profile jumps right out towards the viewer.