CHAPTER 8-: This is the eighth chapter of “A Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Professional Photographer.” – Do you want to learn what it takes to become a professional photographer? If YES, here are 5 basic photography tips on how to shoot people like a professional.

You are likely to come across innumerable rookie photographers who claim that taking photographs of people is very mainstream and does not bring out the best in a photographer. In other words, they put forward the argument that taking pictures of people is very easy, requires very little to no expertise and is a cheap way of attracting attention in the world of photography.

You would not be completely at fault for buying into these theories and believing that shooting photos of people is not really as big a deal as people make it out to be. This is because anyone who has held a camera before knows that it’s far more difficult to make a simple object sitting on a table look spectacular in a photo as opposed to making a naturally beautiful and good looking person appear stunning in a photograph.

Photography Errors to Avoid as a Beginner

When people start out their professional photography careers, they often stay inclined towards taking photos of inanimate objects without the presence of any living being. Some may even go as far as taking pictures of animals, but most refrain from putting people into their precious photos. Why do people do this? We are beginner photographers so against the notion of filling up their cameras with photos of people?

Well the answer to that question is intimidation. Photographing people evokes a sense of intimidation. Photographers, especially those who lack expertise and experience in the field, find it difficult to come up with photos of people that are out of the box, extraordinary and magnificent. Most novice photographers avoid taking pictures of people out of fear that they will not be able to do a better job than any casual user of the camera.

A Shortcut to Not be Taken

The casual users of cameras take pictures of themselves and of their friends and family all the time. In other words, the most common kind of photography is the one that deals with people. Therefore, when a beginner photographer takes a photo of an inanimate object instead of a person, the person immediately separates himself from the crowd of casual users of the camera.

Normal people have little to no interest in capturing photographs of a rock, a pair of spectacles or a watch. This is why when you take a picture of any of these objects it lets people know that you have an eye for highlighting the little and overlooked details in life and makes them feel that you are a better photographer than they are. If anything, avoiding pictures of people is the same as taking a shortcut to repute and praise in the field of photography.

6 Photography Facts You Must Know About the Art of Shooting People Like a Pro

a. Rise above Fear

If you really want your photography to stand out from the rest, then you have to master the art of shooting people like a true professional. Sure enough, you will feel nervous about taking pictures of people as it puts you in a position where your photography skills are exposed and judged immediately. For most parts, the judgement are unfair and quite harsh. For example, if you are taking a picture of a dazzling sunflower, the plant will not make any complaints about your photography.

However, if you are trying to shoot a gorgeous young lady, then you are likely to be bombarded with derogatory comments about how you are failing to make her look beautiful in the pictures. Photographers who shoot people cannot always expect constructive criticism from their subjects.

More often than not, they have to deal with unreasonably rude remarks which can quite easily crush their spirit as a photographer and make them feel inadequate in their jobs. The fear of taking photographs of people is real, and unless you harbour the correct intentions, you will be highly unlikely to become a photographer that people call upon when they need a fabulous new profile picture for their social media or dating website profiles.

b. Perceive and Acknowledge Human Emotions

The art of photographing people lies in your perception of human emotions. If you fail to connect with the strong emotions that overwhelm people, then you will not find it easy to take surreal photos of people. The whole idea of taking pictures of people is to accentuate, highlight and enhance the depth of their emotions and the beauty of their natural selves. A photo is supposed to reveal that which the naked eye cannot see in a person. Photographers who have the ability to take unearthly pictures of other human beings have great respect and admiration for human emotions.

Human emotions are not always as simple and binary as happiness and sadness. Each emotion is a doorway into the personality, the history and the future of a human being. A facial expression therefore tells you a lot more about the person than simply his or her current state of mind.

A smile for example can be the purest and truest revelation of a person’s virtues or vices. Without a crystal clear understanding of these elementary concepts of human psychology, you will not be able to hone your skills in the field of human photography.

c. Understand That People Are Unique

Another thing that you must bear in mind before you proceed with your endeavours of taking photos of people is that each and every single individual out there is a symbol of uniqueness that can be found nowhere else. As mentioned before, taking pictures of people is the most common form of photography in the world and that is what the lion’s share of casual or hobbyist photographers are interested in.

However, the stark difference between the work of a professional photographer and that of a casual camera user lies in the way they portray an individual in their photos. The photos of people taken by a casual user of the camera may seem as generic, ordinary and boring as any other portrait studio photo that you come across. A professional photographer on the other hand strives to depict each person as an entity that has no resemblance with any other person or object for that matter in the whole wide world.

d. Explore Your Creative Freedom

Taking pictures of people provide greater creative freedom than any other form of photography. This is mainly because of the fact that you are working with subjects that are variables rather than constants. There is so much that you can do with a person in front of you and a camera in your hands.

There are so many unseen sides of the person that you can bring out in your photographs. There are countless untold stories that you can narrate in just a single snap of a person. When taking the picture of a human subject, remember to let your imaginations run wild. The freedom to imagine and create is the only way that you can come up with an exciting, awe inspiring and breathtaking piece of art with your camera.

e. Trial and Error

You don’t really have to be an Einstein to figure out the secrets of taking the perfect photo of a person. All you have to do is be open to the idea of failing over and over again. Are you confused? Well, trial and error is the way to go when perfecting the art of human photography. The more pictures you take of people, the more you will learn about the mistakes you are making and the better will be your chances of making a noticeable improvement.

f. Don’t Test People’s Patience

With that being said, you need to remember that the margin for error in human photography is not really as wide as that those in animal photography, landscape photo nature photography. When you become too engrossed in trying to capture the perfect shot, you can often forget the fact that you are dealing with real life people as your subjects. People, especially the ones nowadays, do not have all the patience in the world.

You cannot expect a person to pose for you after taking 10 horrendous and cringe worthy photos of that person. You need to learn very quickly from your mistakes and adjust your skills and camera settings according to what you have learned from the errors made.

5 Photography Basics and Tips for Shooting People Like a Professional

Since human photography is all about working with variables known as people, it is hard to lay down the laws with regards to achieving perfection in this particular field of photography. You never quite know how a person will behave in front of the camera, and that can leave most photographers in a spot of bother. Then again, the uncertainty involved with taking pictures of people is what often translates into the beauty of this side of photography.

Some of the best pictures of human beings taken were neither premeditated nor pre-planned. They were simply spontaneous, spur of the moment snaps that turned out brilliant at the end. Your ability to adapt and work with variables is what will determine how good you will become at taking photos of people. While you work on your adjustability and adaptability, here are 5 tips that you can make use of when photographing people.

1) Build a Connection with the Subject

Photographing a person who is stagnant with expressions, low on the activity and shy in front of the camera can spell disaster for you. This is why it’s always preferable to pick people that you know and have some sort of a connection with.

It allows you and your subject to be more comfortable when taking the photographs and gives you room to express your creativity. Your job as a photographer is to let the person relax, feel at ease and have fun. If you can do this, good photos will churn themselves out in bucket loads. The person you are in a relationship with could be a great place to start.

2) Use Telephoto

Getting your focal length right is of the essence when taking photographs of people. You need to understand how your lenses function and how you can use them to make your pictures seem extraordinary. A lens with a focal length of 100mm or more is always preferred.

Make sure that you use the telephoto end of your zoom when taking portraits. These compress perspective, flatten the face and turn out to be quite flattering. Do not be too fussy about your zoom lens. Select one length and stick to it. Changing your position and manoeuvring your feet often prove to be better options than zooming in or out. You cannot expect the camera to do all the work for you.

3) Don’t Hesitate to Go Wide

One of the biggest mistakes that novice photographers make is that they try to fit in the individuals inside extremely narrow frames. This usually compromises the quality of the image. Contrary to popular belief, going wide with the angle of your zoom does not prevent the subject from being highlighted.

As a matter of fact, it draws more attention upon the subject which is why photo journalists and documentary photographers tend to use a wide angle with their zoom. Make sure that you do not get too close to your subject’s face when using a wide angle lens.

4) Resort to Black and White

If you want your photos to have a very strong artistic appeal, then B&W is the way to go. There is something about removing the colours from a photograph that makes it more special, more enchanting and certainly more meaningful.

Going black and white adds depth and gravitas to the photo and works particularly well with those individuals whose faces are tailor made to exude sombreness, solemnity, intensity or elegance. Getting black and white photography spot on is anything but easy. You need to pay attention to the lighting, shape, texture and composition. The black and white feature works as a great tool if you want to incorporate a sense of antiquity into a person’s portrait.

5) Forget the “Pose”

Do people really have to pose in front of the camera for the picture to turn out mesmerizing? Not really would be the correct answer. When trying to photograph people, one of your rudimentary goals is to make the photo appear as natural as possible. You don’t want the viewers of the photo to know how much work you and your subject have put into it. The photograph should seem effortless, organic and spontaneous.

For example, if you want to photograph a person in the beach, do not ask the person to stand and pose for the camera. Instead, ask the person to keep strolling along the shoreline and look into the camera just before you hit the shutter. This is the best way to capture the true essence of taking a relaxing and refreshing walk in the beach.

Ajaero Tony Martins