Practice 7

Photographing People

In a way that's just your own
It changes you
Makes you more aware
It’s time for you to begin, if you haven’t already, making candid, rather than smile for the camera photos of people. In a world where everyone, even babies, smile for the camera every time you lift your phone to take a shot, it’s harder to get great pictures of people. That doesn’t mean you can’t make natural and spontaneous photos that express what interests you about people. You just have to try harder. Ask a friend or friends to ignore you while you shoot candids. Tell them how long you’ll be shooting, but if you can relax and enjoy it, you may find yourself staying longer and no one will care. People will be self-conscious when you begin, but the more you shoot, the less they will be aware of you and the more natural they will be. Get as close as is comfortable, both for you and your subjects.
I love photographing children. They’re much less self-conscious than adults. Their moods and emotions are always vividly displayed on their faces and bodies. If you can stay out of their way as you shoot, you will be able to capture how they look having fun, when they’re bored, angry, excited, or even feeling heartbroken in the way children often do. It won’t take long for you to convince children you won’t take their pictures if they look at your phone and smile. If there are no children in your circle do the same assignment with adults. Photograph people at play, home, parties, or work when they are concentrating, or deep in conversation. Watch their faces and how they change when truly engaged or just pretending to be. You have to work harder at getting the spontaneity with adults.
Digital images are free and the more you take and the more patient you are, the better your photos will be. This is important: taking natural pictures of people demands you know your camera well so you can work quickly and comfortably. That wonderful expression of pleasure, even sadness, you see and want to get into your camera is there only for seconds. Sometimes it's only a microsecond. It doesn’t wait for the photographer to get ready. Even if you are just doing ‘a smile- for- the- camera,’ you want to be able to use your energy getting your subjects to look happy and natural. How many times have you been stuck trying to keep a smile frozen on your face while someone fidgets with his camera? That's not going to be you.