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Good Photography Lesson 3 - Photographing People

Photographing people well can be particularly challenging. It is hard to capture people in a picture that truly represents them because we are always concerned only with getting the person. Here are some different techniques to consider when photographing people.

Talk To Your Subjects

The most common problem that new photographers have while photographing people is talking to them. Most new photographers don't want to disrupt people who are in conversation or busy doing something. You will have to get over this fear in a hurry. As a photographer it is your job to get the photo. Nobody is going to run up to you and beg to have their photo taken.

You will find the 90% of people will be willing participants for your photos if you ask permission and explain where the picture will be used.

Start with asking: "Excuse me can I take your photo?"

Try adding: "It's for the yearbook?" or "It's for my photography class assignment"

If someone refuses, don't fight with them, simply say "Maybe Next Time" and move on to another subject.

Directing and Arranging People for Photos

The second most common problem for new photographers is arranging people for a photo. Once you've gotten permission to take a photo, don't simply point and shoot. Tell your subjects what you want. You can ask your subjects to do many things to make the photo better or more interesting.

Consider how your picture would change if you said the following things:

Or there's always the standard direction you have to give when taking large group photos.

Remember... it's your photo and they've agreed to be part of it, you should be telling them what to do!


Natural Life - (Candid Shots)

This type of photography seeks to capture from the viewpoint of the observer. In other words, you are not creating the circumstances in which the photo has been taken. This is one of the most difficult types of photograph to get because it requires you to not behave like a photographer. You must try to blend in and capture subjects without intruding or affecting their behaviour.

This does not mean being hidden like paparazzi in a celebrityís dumpster, but rather taking steps to ensure that you are not readily detected before you have captured your shot. To do this, consider the following tips:

At Work

Work is considered to be a fairly open activity, but you should seek permission before you sit and watch. People are usually much more likely to allow you to take pictures of them while they work because the topic of the photograph is not them, but rather what they are doing. If you wanted to photograph them walking down the street, they may feel uncomfortable because they are now the focus of the photograph. To take good pictures of people at work consider the following tips:

Casual & Planned Portraits

With portraits you have the cooperation of your subjects. They know they are being photographed, and they know that they are the focus of the photo. The difference between a casual and planned portrait is:

sdfCasual Portraits do not make use of a studio and there is very little planned in advance. They are oftern spur of the moment events where you see something interesting and ask someone if you can photograph them in their natural environment.

Again, this is not something you've planned ahead of time. You see an opportunity for a great photo, you direct your subject and you capture the portrait.



Planned Portraits involve a great deal of planning. They can be done in a studio with proper seating and lighting equipment or out on location. What makes them different from casual portraits is the planning involved. Costuming (how someone is dressed), props and set (or scene for outdoors) are all planned ahead of time.

This means you have picked the location because it suits the subject of your picture and the person being photographed. You have scouted out the location and chosen a good angle and position for the photo. A good way of doing this is going to the location and practice shooting the exact shot you want without the person in it.

You should also consider the planned time for the photo. It should no only be convenient for both of you, but also to ensure that there is proper sunlight (outdoor shots) and to control the number of people around.

For either type of portrait, you should consider the following things: