People – Just point and shoot won’t do the trick

I don’t really like when cameras are pointed at me. Not that this would happen too often anyway, but when it happens, I start to act weird. Because I already know the outcome: 
I will look stupid, wrinkled, fat or idiotic. I know, I know! One day I will find a shrink
who will listen to me long enough to talk also about this. But I’m not alone, I share this experience with many people, maybe even with the majority on this planet. I am confronted with
“my kind of people” and this uncomfortable feeling almost every time I point my Nikon
at someone. First reaction almost always is: “No, don’t!” It always takes a little convincing,
a relaxing atmosphere, good light, maybe some music and some test shots to proof that I am capable to create a great shot. Not even professional models are different. Although they love when cameras are pointed at them, but they are also very critical about the outcome.
Just as everybody else. I came across very few people so far who are a natural in front
of a camera. Bottom line, photographing people is not the easiest task in photography.
To capture people in a way, so that they like themselves in the picture is everything else
but easy. But it can be done. People photography can be a great challenge but with the right knowledge, good light. some practice and patience it almost always will end in success.

Little girl enjoying riding a snow sled

Keeping it natural – No smile is better than a fake smile
For me next to real models used to lots of light, posing and inpatient photographer, the children and older people are the better “amateur models”. They never lose their relaxed charisma, never really “pose” or give you a fake photo smile. They are always themselves and ideal to photograph in every situation. Sure, there are always exceptions to the rule, but for the most part it is just like that. The age group in between is a bit more difficult to capture. Sometimes people react really crazy when it’s known that there will be a photo taken. A very good people photographer once told me to shoot only with a tele lens when dealing with “difficult motives”. Distract and don’t direct too much, relax them and shoot. What can I say, this was one of the best advises I ever got – it works!

Key in photography is just like in real estate always: location, location, location
An important thing is where to photograph people. To have them in their comfort zone is key. At their private home, in their kitchen, play room, bed room or living room. Talking in advance about the preferred location can take stress away and also lead to creative ideas. When people do what they normally do, they will be relaxed and their charisma will make the photo perfect. I always try to keep the depth of field as shallow as possible, focus on the eyes, make sure there is nothing bothering in the background, distract, relax and shoot. One more thing: Fake is fake. A fake smile looks fake also on a photo. I always try to make my “models” smile with a fun conversation. At times even the right song playing in the background works relaxing and can produce a smile or two. And believe me, everything coming from the heart – from the photographer and from the model – shows in a photo.

Never forget moral and ethics of photography
When photographing people outside, people I don’t know, strangers, I’m always careful and discrete. Even though I’ve been a press photographer for many years I don’t agree with the “license to shoot everybody” as long it’s on a public place. I have issues with my moral believes. My ethics of photography doesn’t allow me to shoot as I please. I developed a good feeling over the years when it’s okay to release the shutter and when it’s not. When I approach someone with my camera I feel a silent consent. Without this feeling, I won’t shoot. If I am not sure, I ask and when someone asks me not to take a picture I won’t. It happened for different reasons already and I’m kind of proud to say, I rather let go of a great image before hurting people’s feelings; not worth it!