I love taking pictures of people. I always have, but over the years I have picked up a few tips on how to take great pictures. Pictures that tell a story. Pictures that make you smile. Pictures that you remember. Here are my 5 best tips:
1 Set up your camera before you get there
A lot of people get nervous about having their picture taken.
Some don't - happy days. But most do so get the camera sorted first:
Full memory card,
Correct iso setting (400 at least),
Shutter priority for movement, or
-Apeture priority for shallow depth of field but a stationary model, or
-Automatic for ease.
Focussing set according to whether the model is still or moving
Multiple exposures or single - your choice
That means you and your model. If you are feeling tense then so will your model (and by model I mean the person you want to photograph, professional models are easy). So, before you point a camera into their face have a chat about them. Not about you, your disastrous journey to the shoot, your breakfast or whatever. Talk to them. Engage with them. Smile. Find out something that they love and get them talking. Smile, get that? Smile. While still chatting pick up your camera and start to get ready, maintain eye contact and let them know what you are doing, 'I'm just checking the settings,' or ' I'll need a couple of minutes to set this up, ok?'
3 Give them instructions
Lots of people freeze in front of a camera. Their hands become lumps of clay hanging by their sides, their eyes start getting shifty because they don't know what to look at. Be kind, tell them what to do. It's not bossy, it's a life-line. And remember no-one wants a bad photo of themselves so they want to trust you. A photographer is everyone's friend!
Ask them to put them in their pockets, or
Carry something, a favourite garden tool, some vegetables a bottle of beer
If they are seated, they can cup their face with them.
STANDING or SITTING
Work out a way to make them look good, side on often works best, with the upper torso
twisted towards the camera. Again, talk it through, show them and give them reassurance throughout.
Ask them to walk away from the camera and back-or towards the camera-walking takes your mind off the camera, a bit.
Ask them to look down and up - then click. You often get a more relaxed picture when they are not fixated by the lens.
PUT THEM IN CONTEXT
Ask them to do something they maybe do for a living-is it part of the story?
Think of a few tricks like this yourself, you will work some out that you feel comfortable with.
When its working-TELL THEM. People respond to positive comments particularly if it's something they are new to.
Give them something to think about. If they are uncomfortable looking into the camera suggest they do it and think of something they love to do, or someone they love, or a funny incident that happened to them.
Most of all ...
Work with them. If something isn't working - say so, and offer an alternative, 'No I don't think that's quite right, how about this...', or stand next to them and show them.
If they really find it difficult to get into, stop and work on something else, this gives you time to continue to put them at ease and go back to it. You'll be surprised at how relaxed they become the more they feel relaxed with you.
4 Click away
Take lots of pictures. I can take 8 out of 10 good pictures of a garden but maybe only 1 out of 20 of a person. Their expressions change constantly and you need to try different poses, and positions.
Ask them not to talk (this is a tough one, as most people talk through nerves), or wait till they are not talking before you shoot. If someone is with you ask them not to talk to the model while you are working. You are the only person who should be talking. Why? Because when you capture a person talking when being photographed their face is contorted into all sorts of odd shapes hint-if you tell them this their lips will be sealed.
5 Enjoy it
If you are enjoying it then they will start to relax and enjoy it too.
ps No bright sunlight-soft light is more flattering.
©Lynn Keddie 2012
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.