How to be a 'people' photographer?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by keith204, Jun 18, 2007.

  1. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I, and many others, enjoy taking pictures of sports, objects, scenery, etc...but aren't very comfortable taking people pictures. You know, the type where 1 or more people are standing there, staring at you...awaiting a funny joke.

    How do I make things less awkward, so I--and the subject--will lighten up?
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    That's the secret to good portraits...and therefore, if I told you...I'd have to kill you. (just kidding)

    Really, that is something that is a skill apart from the technical aspects of photography. It can be something that you can practice and get better at...but it depends on your personality as to what will work for you. And what works for some subjects, doesn't work for others. Giggling your keys only works on so many people for so long... :lol:
     
  3. deanimator

    deanimator TPF Noob!

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    I wear trick trousers which fall down just 2 seconds before I push the button.
    Never fails.
    :lmao::lol::mrgreen::lmao:
     
  4. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You have to go beyond thinking of people as objects (it's right there, way back in your head). I'm not saying that you treat people as objects but rather you are considering them as such while trying to photograph them. This leads to an uncomfortable situation and bad photos.

    Lighten up and think of your camera as a time machine that you are allowing people to use. Enjoy the moment with them and take as good a care of them as you can- you are hosting them after all.

    You'll never learn to fly unless you forget to hit the ground- just give it a miss and have fun!

    mike
     
  5. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    You just talk to them.
    Find out what they do, what they like, music they listen to, films they've watched, family. Stuff like that.
    Do it whilst you set up.
    Do it whilst you shoot.
    The trick is to find the thing they are most interested in - what makes them come alive. And to do it naturally without appearing nosy.
    You need to be able to hold up your end too so you have to know about lots of things.
    In short, you build a rapport. The pictures come naturally out of it all.
    And shoot lots.
    First roll or two they are self-concious. Third and fourth roll they are used to you so they relax and ignore what you are doing. Fifth roll they are bored and so you call it a day.
    Worked for me when I was earning my living doing it (see People And Their Sofas).

    You have to remember that different types of photography require different personal skills. A good photojournalist needs different skills to an editorial photographer who needs different skills to a sports photographer who needs different skills to an advertising photographer... Find the area of photography that suits your personality.
     
  6. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well my serious aunt's wedding portrait was lightened by a quick grab by the new husband. While that photo turned out bad, the one taken less then a second later was fantastic :D

    If you photograph the people as people rather than as objects the expression comes naturally. If they are deeply in love have them look in each other's eyes and watch the expression change. If they are both fishing maniacs, why not go fishing with them and get some portraits which reflect who they are not what they look like.
     
  7. nomade

    nomade TPF Noob!

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    Beyond technical skills, it's about you, the way you talk to them, if they are comfortable with you, and if you can get the best out of them. Get involved with them and they will let you get what you want.
     
  8. D40

    D40 TPF Noob!

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    If I may ask a question that is close to the first asked:) What about a setting like a fair or something were people are just out haveing fun and you want to get someones photo, are there any secrets that you guys use and don't mind shareing? Example: I was at an outdoor event recently and there was a cute couple sitting on a blanket waiting for a show to begin. I wanted to get a picture but did not know how to approach them, any advise?

    Thanks and I hope the original poster does not mind me asking this question:)
     
  9. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I walk around with my camera around my neck or on my shoulder. Everyone sees me with the camera. After a short time, more people just forget I'm there. Just start taking shots of "stuff". Anything around the final subject. Then without really thinking about it, swing around and shoot a few in their direction, then shoot what you want, and shoot some more of other subjects. I've used this method for decades. Digital makes it easy, the cost for the throw-away is nothing. You will get to the point that many of the before and after shots will be keepers anyway. Just shoot what you want and do so like you knew what you were doing.
     
  10. kellbell

    kellbell TPF Noob!

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    You really don't need to ask people in a public place to take their picture (although it's more ethical) if you wanted something that looked natural you might not get it if you asked them first anyway since they would be aware of you at that point. You could take the picture first and after let them know and ask if you could send them a print.

    I think if you look like you are comfortable taking pictures of people in a setting like the one you described, for the most part people won't care what your doing and won't pay attention to you.
     

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