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Archive 2012 · Learning how to Shoot People
  
 
Red 90
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Learning how to Shoot People


I've been doing photography for the last 3-4 years and I can say that I know how to use my camera, lighting, etc.. etc...

I've been very successful at shooting landscapes, wildlife, architecture... everything that doesn't involve me interacting with them. The one type of photography that I can't seem to get comfortable with or know how to learn is people photography. I seem to be at a loss when I get to shoot people (not models, just ordinary people). I don't seem to know what to tell them to do, where to place them or pose them, or even how to get them to relax and smile naturally. Of course, most people will look to me to tell them what to do... or somehow make the magic happen. What comes out at the end of the day is always something awkward, albeit properly lit and exposed.

I've seen many wonderful images on this website with many seasoned photographers. I'm sure you've had that early learning hump of trying to figure out what to do with people. I'm just trying to get some advice at gaining some experience so I can go from this insecure photographer to a confident shooter.

Are there any go to poses... or setups you know will always work so that at least you have a safe shot when posing people? Maybe what to say to them, that will make them look natural or smile?

Or maybe some constructive learning process... like try doing this technique first... then move on to this etc.. etc...

Just any suggestions to learn how to shoot people to come up with natural, real expressions and not feel like they look awkward with a forced pose or smile.

If you gave me a model to shoot right now... I honestly wouldn't know what to do with her, besides tell her to smile...

Anyways... your thoughts are much appreciated... I'm just rambling.



Oct 31, 2012 at 01:38 AM
runamuck
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Learning how to Shoot People


Prozac and Mad Dog 20 20 help. Seriously, if you are not a people oriented person you are facing an uphill battle. You can study posing guides, but even then you have the problem of interacting with all the people.

Some days I got it, most days I don't. Some days I just fake it and it works. It's something you just have to do over and over. It helps to practice with someone you know that lights up like a Christmas tree when they see a camera.

Even though you may be nervous and not know what to do, there are a lot of people out there who see a camera and break out in a cold sweat.



Oct 31, 2012 at 02:13 AM
friscoron
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Learning how to Shoot People



Lot of truth in what runamuck said. I would say it's all true except Mad Dog 20 20 didn't really help me much.

Bottom line, the reason you're at a loss about posing people is that posing people is a skill. You say you know how to use your camera and lighting, and I'm sure that's because you studied up on it and practiced, practiced, practiced. This is no different, as runamuck mentioned.

If you want to become good at photographing people, then you need to learn what to do with them, and practice, practice, practice. If that doesn't work, then I'd turn to the Mad Dog.



Oct 31, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Red 90
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Learning how to Shoot People


Ya I just find learning the other disciplines of photography much easier than people photography. I guess I just have to try to do more and see if I get more comfortable.


Oct 31, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Michaelparris
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Learning how to Shoot People


Don't over think it.....study some techniques on posing then when you have a subject start a normal conversation with them while you are shooting them. Just like you would have if you were not photographing them...An ice breaker that I use that works every time is after they are posed I look into the camera then look up and say, "You look miserable"...Works every time, has yet to not create a laugh. start clicking at that point. Just be yourself. If you are not comfortable with them it just means you are not comfortable with yourself.......


Oct 31, 2012 at 04:43 AM
 



Paul.K
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Learning how to Shoot People


Michaelparris wrote:
...look up and say, "You look miserable"...Works every time, has yet to not create a laugh.


This is guaranteed to go poorly when used by someone not comfortable with people

I am bad with people too and have given up on it because I am confident that I will never be the type of people person that just can talk and make people comfortable when I have a camera. I am just too introverted.



Oct 31, 2012 at 06:07 AM
Ernie Aubert
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Learning how to Shoot People


Michaelparris wrote:
... If you are not comfortable with them it just means you are not comfortable with yourself.......


This is the essence of the issue. There are many approaches to discovering how to be comfortable in your own skin; once you get that, not only your photography, but your whole life will be reset. Meditation is valuable.



Oct 31, 2012 at 08:20 AM
jefferies1
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Learning how to Shoot People


It takes practice. You need to see the finished photo in your mind then adjust the client and camera to capture that image. Also everyone is different. You need to look at a face and understand what angle is best and what side will be the best for them. Technical side is getting the camera to do what you want which is easy for most to learn. Art is getting the look every client will be happy with which is easy for some like myself who comes from a design background but very hard for others who never seem to grasp the concept. I would suggest not only looking at photography books but basic sketch and art books to open yourself to a different way of looking at the client. After you have total self confidence the client will feel it and it will show in their face. Tension in the clients face or body can ruin a good portrait. That stress look is another thing you must watch for and take care of. 95% of my clients have it at the beginning and none have it when we finish the portrait, at least not in the few really good shots. It is something thet comes and goes during the session.Being introverted has nothing to do with it. You build a system and use it every time. Small talk is not required, following a set procedure is.


Oct 31, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Red 90
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Learning how to Shoot People


jefferies1 wrote:
It takes practice. You need to see the finished photo in your mind then adjust the client and camera to capture that image. Also everyone is different. You need to look at a face and understand what angle is best and what side will be the best for them. Technical side is getting the camera to do what you want which is easy for most to learn. Art is getting the look every client will be happy with which is easy for some like myself who comes from a design background but very hard for others who never seem to
...Show more

Yes, I guess that's what I'm trying to look for... some kind of set procedure where I can get the subject comfortable and repeat it with each person knowing I'll get the results of a relaxed and natural client. And yes I'm not comfortable with myself as a people photographer... It seems to come natural for some people... but being an engineer by trade coming from a rather traditional asian family... we have not been really taught that skill of easily interacting with people. To some extent the skill can be learned, for some it just second nature. I envy those that can just jump into a group of strangers and make everyone comfortable and laugh.

Although I am complaining about myself, this is not something that I feel I'll give up on. However I feel the approach to overcome this obstacle is different from other disciplines of photography. In other areas of photography, I've learned the skills to see shapes, understand light and color. In people photography... I feel the key to being great is not as much weighted towards the technical skill (which is still important), but it's the people skill which is paramount.



Nov 01, 2012 at 01:51 AM
mikekel
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Learning how to Shoot People


You might look at Syl Arena's work, http://www.sylarena.com/. His focus is more on light and shadow and uses Canon speedlights as one of his primary tools. I just attended one of his seminars, very impressed. You may find you are too focused on the individual v the portrait, getting the good technical photo v taking advantage of light and shadow. Just a thought but it made a great deal of sense to me.


Nov 02, 2012 at 03:29 AM





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