It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Rick Sammon!
First off, I want to thank my good friends Scott and Brad for having me back as a guest blogger. It’s always fun, and an honor, to here. What’s more, I enjoy and learn from the feedback in the Comments section – even when someone disagrees with me.
I’m often asked, “What’s your specialty?” I reply: “”My specialty is not specializing.”
You see, I try to do it all. And, I encourage young photographers not to specialize – because being good at many aspects of photography is often better than being good at just one. Plus, what you learn in one area of photography can often be applied to another.
That said, when it comes down to it, I like travel photography the most. Diving a little deeper into that specialty, I get the most joy from photographing people, especially strangers in strange lands.
I also thrive on the challenge of getting people to accept me and trust me enough to let me into their lives for a few seconds or minutes to make a picture. That’s the key when it comes to people photography.
In this guest post I’d like to share some of my favorite people pictures (click the picture for a larger view) from a workshop that I lead to Papua New Guinea. Talk about strange places and strangers in strange lands!
I’ll also share my top 10 tips for making people pictures – tips that you can apply to all your people pictures . . . even when you are photographing “strange” friends and family members. ☺
1) Make a portrait and an environmental portrait (a subject in his or her environment)
Above is an example of an environmental portrait. The last picture is this post is a head-and-shoulder portrait.
2) When you think you are close, get closer
The closer you are to the subject, the more intimate the picture becomes. My favorite portrait lens is the Canon 24-105mm IS lens. Here I used that lens set at 45mm.
3) Master fill-flash
My goal when I take a flash picture is not to have it look like a boring flash shot. The key to achieving that goal is to balance the light from the flash to the available light. Here’s an article I wrote for Layers magazine on that topic.
4) Compose carefully
Composition is the strongest way of seeing, which is the topic of my newest, and most popular, class on Kelby Training.
A simply and effective composition technique is to place the subject off center. That’s a technical composition tip. What’s more important is to compose emotionally – and to capture the mood of the scene.
5) Light the eyes
Ya gotta light the eyes. You can do that with a speedlite (as in this case), a reflector (as in photo/tip #8) or by having the subject look up toward the sky (as in photo/tip #4).
6) See eye-to-eye, or not
When you see eye-to-eye and shoot eye-to-eye with your subject, the viewer of your photograph relates most to the subject. Shooting below eye levels gives the subject a sense of power. Shooting down can look boring.
7) Consider depth of field
In travel portraiture, depth of field is important. I shoot all my travel portraits on the Av mode. Here I used a small aperture for good depth of field.
8) Focus carefully
Just because you have an autofocus camera, that does not mean the camera knows where to focus. Usually, it’s best to focus on the eye, especially when you are shooting with a telephoto lens and when there are foreground elements in the scene.
9) Enhance your pictures in Lightroom and Photoshop
Use the Vignette feature to draw more attention to the subject by darkening the edges. Also: selectively sharpen the subject; selectively blur the background. Always think selectively.
10) Crop creatively
Cropping (post-capture composing) is often needed to make a good photograph. Sometimes, you simply can’t get it right in-camera. That’s why the first thing I do when I open an image is to crop it.
Well, that’s it for now. I hope to see you all back here or at Photoshop World someday. Until then, if you’d like more people photography tips, check out my flagship app, Rick Sammon’s 24/7 Photo Buffet.