Photographing People

Grace Kelly, 1955
Philippe Halsman
Magnum Photos

Warmup: Describe the best picture of you? Who took it? When did they take it? What about the picture makes you look good? Answer this in 4 sentences.


Assignment 16:

Moving from photographing objects to photographing people can be unsettling. Not only must you worry about composition and EXPOSURE you must interact with the subject. A good PORTRAIT is more than just a photograph of a person looking into a camera. A portrait captures the true essence of a person. This kind of picture should reveal something about the person; their character, feelings, experiences, or beliefs.

How do you capture these things? If you can make your camera invisible it can be quite easy. However, you have probably noticed that cameras are not invisible. In fact, they sometimes broadcast your position and intent. You are there to make a picture. To get the picture you want you need to be aware of your situation and the type of photo you want to make.

When you are in a STUDIO setting it might be easier to build a rapport with a subject. By making your SUBJECT relaxed you can get them to a place where they are comfortable with the camera.  Often your camera is on a tripod and that allows you to peek around and talk to your subject. When they are comfortable you can make an exposure when they are at their most relaxed.

When you are on the street taking CANDID photographs or STREET PHOTOGRAPHY the requirements are different. You probably won't have a tripod nor will you have time to build a rapport with the subject. That means to get the photo you want you have to have the correct settings all ready to go. Playing around with your camera while making an exposure will make the camera visible and you'll loose the picture. Keeping the camera on the Av SETTING with your aperture at f/8 means you don't have to worry about focusing. As long as your subject is at least 5-10 feet (or 10 to infinity) away from you. Also, it's cheating to zoom all the way in. Zoom with your feet.

When it comes to lighting the best environment is OPEN SHADE. The light will be even and flattering to your subject.

These few tips will help you start the process of learning how to take photographs of other people.


Today's assignment is to take the BOLD words in the passage above and do a vocabulary study using the Vocab 4-Square Sheets. This is an in-class activity and should be done before the period ends. Vocab sheets are available in the front of the room.