Shoot People Pictures
By Bob Krist
One of the most common shortcomings in amateur travel photography is the lack of people pictures. Frame after frame of architecture and landscapes may be fine if architects and landscapers make up your audience, but most people want to see pictures of other people.
Shyness is the main excuse for not photographing people in your travels. Here are a few ways to overcome that shyness and break the ice.
Look for subjects with whom you naturally interact during your travels. People in the hospitality industry — waiters, doormen, bellhops, taxi drivers, even the friendly cop who gives you directions — are usually easy to approach and more than happy to pose for a quick picture. If you’re out on the street or an outdoor market, vendors are usually amenable to a picture, especially if you buy some of their wares (it doesn’t have to be expensive — a hot dog, a few pieces of fruit, a small souvenir).
Street entertainers and artists also make great photo subjects, as their acts and art work are colorful and lively. Since these folks make their living in tips, it’s appropriate to offer one if you are going to take a few pictures.
Despite what the “rules” say, you don’t have to use a medium telephoto to shoot all of your people pictures. Sure, that focal length is great for headshots. But you’ll want to do some environmental portraits, showing both the subject and his surroundings, with a wide angle lens too. Remember to keep chatting with your subject as you are shooting to keep his or her interest. If you fall into dead silence, or if you spend an undue amount of time fiddling with your cameras, your subject will glaze over, and the resulting pictures will suffer.
Copyright 2006–2011 Bob Krist. Reproduced with permission. No Internet reproduction or other usage permitted. For more information send an email. Bob’s next book will be PhotoSecrets Travel Photography.