People Photo Tip #3: Be Patient

It’s spring again and most of us will be heading outdoors for picnics, hiking and other events that we share with family and friends. That means taking photos of people.

In The Photographer’s Eye: People, part of my The Photographer’s Eye Series of e-books, I include lots of illustrative images, but also ten tips to improve your people pics. I’d like to expand on #3 here: Be Patient. Sound simple? It’s not.

Yes, we all realize that one has to be patient to photograph little tykes. But I find that the very same thing holds true for older children and adults. Often I find that it’s not until I’ve spent a sustained chunk of time with a person, photographing, then jawing, then photographing again before I land the image I want. Sometimes that’s due to the subject relaxing, but more and more I realize it’s probably due to me getting the crappy or mundane shots out of the way before I relax enough to get to know the subject and catch that magic moment.

In the case of the bedouin girl I photographed some 12 years ago, I was the guest of the sheikh of the tribe as we visited various family groups. This young girl is one of the sheikhs many nieces. I was the first non-Egyptian she had ever met. I knew I’d need to be patient to get the shot I wanted. Two days patient, that is! As you can see from the marks on her cheeks, it took a bar of very melted chocolate (110F degrees) to coax her to even look at me.

I am not a proponent of “Drive-by Shootings” where you point a camera at an unsuspecting native and fire away. I think that causes more ill will than drones (ok, a bit of an exaggeration). But patience with people pictures is an attitude. Try to cultivate it, commit to it and you will see your images improve dramatically.

Stay tuned for more tips over the next few months, taken from my e-books (People, Landscapes and Wildlife).

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