This unique book is a photographer’s guide to the powerful medium of the environmental portrait. It explores in lucid detail the many "moving parts" of this imaging style, including the techniques and creative processes that drive some of this genre’s finest contemporary practitioners.

In Environmental Portraiture, author Jim Cornfield puts his readers behind the viewfinder to help them successfully master what he calls "the portrait photographer’s most high-powered tool." In a series of detailed tutorial chapters and study models, Cornfield unpacks every practical aspect of the environmental portrait scenario, including research, location scouting, lighting interior and exterior environments, props and wardrobe, lens selection, composition, color, and after-capture.

Along with this wealth of comprehensive nuts-and-bolts information, the book probes the deep structure of environmental portraiture—the blend of a sitter’s backstory with the meaningful visual clues in their surroundings. He introduces such concepts as "portraitcraft," "cognitive weight," and "the ideas and emotions quotient," among the many dimensions of an environmental portrait that create eye-opening revelations about the person in front of your lens.

A separate section of the book is devoted to a prestigious roster of contemporary environmental portraitists, specifically recruited for this book to explore in-depth selected samples from their diverse portfolios. They bring with them a score of insights, tips and fascinating anecdotes that demonstrate their individualized approaches to this versatile branch of the photographer’s craft.

Written for professionals, amateurs and serious students of photography, this book is both a guide and inspiration to creating powerful, communicative environmental portraiture.

chapter |4 pages


part I|77 pages


chapter 1|11 pages

Discovering the Environmental Portrait

A Memoir

chapter 2|9 pages

Portraiture and the Invisible Thread

chapter 3|12 pages

Deconstructing the Environmental Portrait, Phase One

A Look Backward

chapter 4|11 pages

Deconstructing the Environmental Portrait, Phase Two

In the here and Now

chapter 5|32 pages

Executing the EP

The Opening Gambit

part II|60 pages

The Environmental Portrait in the Real World

chapter 6|7 pages

Study Model

The Four Ts at Work

chapter 7|7 pages

Study Model

chapter 8|14 pages

Study Model

chapter 9|10 pages

Study Model

chapter 10|8 pages

Study Model

chapter 11|10 pages

Study Model

part III|68 pages

Masters of the Environmental Portrait

chapter 12|8 pages


chapter 13|18 pages


chapter 14|6 pages


chapter 15|7 pages

The Art of Improvisation

chapter 16|7 pages

The Fictive Persona

chapter 17|6 pages

Doctor Light

chapter 18|12 pages

The Gold Standard

chapter |2 pages

A Parting Word