Shooting People

Waiter in the Plaka, Athens.

People truly provide the most intimate glimpse into any culture; and photographs of people at play and at work can tell incredible stories.

When looking for interesting subjects to photograph, you need to be sensitive to the culture and norms in any society.  You need to respect the people you want to photograph. 

Candid photos are wonderful but when possible you should seek permission to photograph someone.  Even if you don’t know the language, often a smile and a nod with your camera will get the message across as it did with this waiter in the Plaka neighborhood in Athens. 

As a general rule you’ll find longer telephoto lens are helpful for photographing people.  It respects their space and doesn’t distort the person like a wide-angle lens can. 

Street performers in Athens.

Street performers are common place in many areas and often provide great subject matter for your photographs. You should consider that they make their income on the streets and offering a modest payment in exchange for becoming one of your subjects is appropriate. 

Look for great light.  You’ll find many of these people shots look best without a flash so unless you’re desperate for more light, try to use the existing light with an appropriate white balance setting. If need be, increase your ISO to allow faster shutter speeds in dim light.

And finally, what often draws your attention to someone is the task that they are performing whether it’s a fisherman casting his net or a crepe maker pouring the batter on her pan.  So don’t pose them.  Shoot images of these people at work and at play.  

Fisherman in Patmos, Greece, tends to his fishing nets.