Last week I took Dani's senior portraits. Instead of the overdone grad photos with a cap and gown at the Cal Poly sign, we shot in the studio and at the pool. Dani is retiring from a 13-year swim career, so the pool is definitely a special place for her.

For the studio shots, I wanted to capture the photos you'd normally see of Olympic athletes: physique portraits in dramatic, beautiful light. The shots at the pool are environmental portrait-inspired.

An environmental portrait is a portrait taken of a person or people in a situation that they live in and a place that says something about who they are. It is often a place of work, rest or play.

I refuse to believe environmental portraits require studio lighting, since I really dislike the look of a subject in the spotlight with an unnaturally dim background (why even shoot in an environment if you can barely see the environment?!?) When I shoot outdoors the setting sun is the most beautiful source of light, and I want the environment to look natural, because it's part of the subject's very real lifestyle. Instead of using a spotlight, posing, composition, and cropping help the subject stand out. And for me, of course, styling is everything.

Anyway, I really loved doing this shoot with Dani, the sweetest person ever. It was such a blast photographing an athlete and working in an interesting new setting. With the rainy winter weather curse finally gone, I can't wait to shoot more environmental portraits. Number one source of inspiration? ESPN Body Issue.