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Posts Tagged ‘People’

Just Pull Some Strings: 8 Easy Transforming Furniture Designs for Lazy People

21 Mar

[ By SA Rogers in Design & Furniture & Decor. ]

gesture controlled transforming furniture

When you’re lazy, even the most intuitive transforming furniture isn’t easy enough to operate unless it’s on the same level as clapping your lights on and off. Luckily for those of us who fall into this category, some furniture makers are creating multifunctional designs for small spaces that work their magic at the push of a button, the pull of a string, a flick of the wrist or even a mere gesture.

Retractible Ollie Chair by RockPaperRobot

ollie chair gif

ollie chair flat pack

ollie chair

ollie chair

You really have to watch the video of how this chair works to fully appreciate its brilliant simplicity. It starts as an entirely flat panel of slatted teak wood with a slight curve at the top. Pick it up, pull a string and the whole thing unfurls into a seat in a single fluid motion that’s very satisfying to watch, and it works the same way in reverse. The slats are affixed to a textile canvas to make the seating flexible, and the rest takes folding inspiration from origami.

A-Board Flat-Pack Shelf

a-board

a-board 2

This bookshelf starts as a flat piece of laser-cut plywood. Yang the orange ribbon on the back, and it will pull the shelves down perpendicular to the face so you can rest the whole thing against a wall and use it as a bookshelf. Designer Tomas Schön used a laser-cutting technique to bend the wood instead of hinges, and there’s no other hardware or even glue involved.

MIT Media Lab CityHome

MIT cityhome

MIT cityhome 2

MIT cityhome 3

Still not easy enough for you? How about commanding your bed to slide out with a gesture of your hands? MIT’s robotic ‘home in a box’ can pack a full, spacious-feeling apartment into 200 square feet of space, including a bed, workspace, dining table for dix, storage and a mini kitchen. The box uses built-in sensors, motors, LED lights and low-friction rollers to respond to your voice commands or gestures.

Ori Robotic Home Controlled via Smartphone App

ori robotic home

ori robotic home 2

ori robotic home 3

There are all sorts of complex transforming furniture systems designed to fit maximum function into small spaces, but how many of them are operated through a smartphone app? The Ori system (taking its name from the prefix of ‘origami’) runs on robotic technology, featuring an on-device user interface as well as an app for your handheld device so you can press a button to initiate various configurations, like the bed sliding out, the table folding down or the entire unit moving to tuck itself against a wall to open up the floor area.

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Just Pull Some Strings 8 Easy Transforming Furniture Designs For Lazy People

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[ By SA Rogers in Design & Furniture & Decor. ]

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9 Ways to Ensure You Get Sharp Images When Photographing People

09 Mar

If you are struggling with soft or blurry images, you are not alone. Many photographers have difficulty with getting crisp, clear, in-focus images. This is especially true when taking pictures of people. It can be done, though, if you take the right steps. Try out these nine tips to make sure you get sharp images when you are photographing people. With a little practice, you should start seeing results right away.

9 Ways to Ensure You Get Sharp Images When Photographing People

1. Shutter Speed

If you set your shutter speed too slow, chances are that your images are not going to be as sharp as you want them to be. Make sure to set your shutter speed at least the same speed as the focal length of your lens. To be extra sure, you could even double it.

For example, if you are shooting with a 35mm lens, make sure your shutter speed is set to 1/35th (doubled – 1/70th) or faster. If you are shooting with an 85mm lens, set the shutter speed to 1/90th (double to 1/170th) or faster.

9 Ways to Ensure You Get Sharp Images When Photographing People

Shutter speed 1/1640th of a second.

2. Steady Hands

To hold your camera steady, firmly plant your hands on your camera and make sure that you are not shaking, even slightly. Ideally, a tripod could eliminate the possibility of this, but if you are shooting handheld, make sure to keep things as steady as you can. Even the slightest movement could cause your photo to become out of focus.

9 Ways to Ensure You Get Sharp Images When Photographing People - Shot hand held

Shot handheld.

3. Set Your Focal Point

There are a few ways to set your focus, but one great way is to set your focal point to the center focal point on your camera and focus in on the person you want to photograph. You can change the points around, but generally, the center one will give you the clearest focus.

9 Ways to Ensure You Get Sharp Images When Photographing People - Shot with center focal point

Shot with the camera set to the center focal point.

4. Look at the Eyes

If you are taking a photo of just one person, set your focus on their eyes. The eyes are generally what will stand out in a great portrait, so making sure that they are in focus is key. Remember those focal points? Make sure that center one is lined up right on their eye.

9 Ways to Ensure You Get Sharp Images When Photographing People - Focus on the eyes

Note: if the person is posed slightly sideways, always focus on the eye closest to the camera.

5. Pose Them

If you are taking a photo with more than one person or a family, the way you pose them can affect the sharpness and focus. An easy pose which helps to make sure the focus will stay sharp is lining them up. Keep everyone on the same plane (equidistant from the lens). This will be helpful especially if you are still learning manual shooting mode, and working with your aperture. When you pose a group of people for a picture and they are in multiple lines, or if you have some closer to the camera, while others are farther away, this could make it more difficult to get everyone in sharp focus.

9 Ways to Ensure You Get Sharp Images When Photographing People - Posed in a line

6. Setting Your Aperture

The wider you set your aperture, the greater the chance there may be some parts of the image that are out of focus. Remember how you’re going to pose them? When you pose the people in a line on the same plane, you can keep your aperture wider and lower the risk for a blurry photo. It is also easier to shoot with a wider aperture if you are just photographing one individual.

9 Ways to Ensure You Get Sharp Images When Photographing People - Aperture 2.2

Shot at aperture f/2.2

7. Focus on the Person Closest to You

If there are many people in your photo, set the focal point on the person closest to you. Ideally, this person will also be in the center of the group. This will help to make sure that they are in focus as well as any people in the photo that are behind them. Then, adjust your aperture to make sure all group members will be in focus.

8. Choose Your Lens

Not all lenses are created the same and some are better at capturing sharp images than others. It’s not necessarily always the most expensive lenses either. A good starter lens that has great focus and won’t break your bank account is the 50mm f/1.8. A few other great lenses that generally produce sharp photos and aren’t as pricey are the 85mm f/1.8 or the 50mm f/1.4.

9 Ways to Ensure You Get Sharp Images When Photographing People - Shot with 50mm f/1.4

Shot with a 50mm f/1.4 lens.

9. Clean Your Gear

If you’ve tried all these steps and you are still experiencing soft, blurry pictures, it may be time to clean your equipment. If it’s been awhile (or if you’ve never had it cleaned), take your camera and lenses into a local camera shop you trust and have them clean your gear for you. Hopefully, that will make a big different in the sharpness of your images.

Now you try it. Next time you go out to photo shoot, think about these steps and carefully plan to get sharp images. Don’t just assume it’s automatically going to happen. With practice you will get it, so keep trying.

The post 9 Ways to Ensure You Get Sharp Images When Photographing People by Emily Supiot appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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CP+ 2017 – Fujifilm Interview: ‘We hope that the GFX will change how people view medium format’

24 Feb
Toshihisa Iida, General Manager of Fujifilm’s Optical Device and Electronic Imaging Products Division, posing with the new medium-format GFX 50S.

We’re at the CP+ 2017 show, in Yokohama Japan where Fujifilm is preparing to ship its long-awaited medium format GFX 50S. 

We sat down with three Fujifilm executives, Toshihisa Iida, (general manager of Fujifilm’s Optical Device and Electronic Imaging Products Division), Makoto Oishi, (manager of Fujifilm’s Sales and Marketing Group, Optical Device and Electronic Imaging Products division), and Shinichiro Udono, (Senior Manager for the Sales and Marketing Group of the Optical Device and Electronic Imaging Division), to learn more about the GFX, some of the challenges of creating a medium-format system, and future plans for GX and X series development.

Now that the GFX is ready, and about to ship, this must be quite exciting for you.

Yes, absolutely. For the past four or five years we’ve been concentrating on the APS-C format, and a lot of people were asking us when we’d enter the larger format market. Once some time had passed, and we’d produced a good number of APS-C lenses, we started to look more seriously at large format to attract more customers. That was about two years ago.

The GFX 50S is a mirrorless medium-format camera built around a 43.8 X 32.9mm CMOS sensor. Although the camera borrows a lot of design cues from its smaller X Series cousins, the GFX offers a very different handling experience. Despite being based around such a large sensor, the combination of camera and 63mm prime lens is surprisingly lightweight and very well-balanced. 

Since the development announcement at Photokina we’ve received a lot of positive feedback from photographers. We started a program called the ‘GFX Challenge’, where we loaned GFX cameras to photographers from various fields, in order to get feedback. Based on that feedback we refined the camera’s software. Now that we’re almost ready to ship, I can’t wait to get feedback from customers.

What kind of changes resulted from the Challenge feedback?

Most feedback was more or less as we’d expected. Photographers were surprised by how small and light the camera was. We made a few changes on the firmware side, mostly small refinements, like how the dials work, for example, to make it less likely that you’ll make an accidental control input (etc.)

What were the biggest technical challenges that you faced when moving from APS-C to medium format?

The sensor size is 4X as large, so speed and responsiveness were two major challenges. Readout speed, processing and autofocus.

Makoto Oishi shows off the 50MP medium-format sensor used in the GFX 50S.

The GFX does not offer phase-detection – are the lenses designed to support this in the future?

Yes, definitely.

You’re joining Ricoh in the medium format market, and some long-established brands like Hasselblad and Phase One. Are you expecting other manufacturers to enter this market too?

We don’t know. Obviously, the other brands are focusing on full-frame at the moment. Obviously though we’d welcome any brand that joins this category, because it will increase awareness, and help the category as a whole.

When you were planning a product like the GFX, did you come up with any predictions about the growth of the medium-format market?

At the moment we’re just focusing on making the best product we can. We hope that the GFX will change how people view medium format, and this will help to grow the entire category.

What’s your medium-term strategy for growth in this product line? Will there be longer product cycles, for instance?

Obviously the sales volume will be lower, so the product life cycle will probably be longer. But whenever we have the right combination of the right hardware, the right sensor and the right processor, we’ll introduce a new camera.

When you were planning the GFX, what kind of photographers did you have in mind?

After our experience with the GFX challenge, we actually see a much wider potential audience than we’d originally thought. It will depend on what kinds of lenses we introduce. For example, we didn’t think that street photographers would use medium format much, but [based on feedback] we hope that we can reach a broader audience.

You have a six-lens roadmap for GFX right now – how will this lineup evolve?

After the announcement of the GFX we started to get a lot of requests from photographers about other lenses. For example a lot of photographers are asking us for telephoto lenses, in the 200-300mm range. Nature photographers for example. Also people are asking for a wide-angle, like a 15mm equivalent, and an equivalent to the 70-200mm on full-frame.

Fujifilm’s recently updated lens roadmap for the APS-C X Series, including new lenses coming next year. We’re told that ultra-wide and fast tele lenses have been requested for the GFX platform, too. 

If you do develop those kinds of longer lenses, aimed at wildlife photographers, presumably the autofocus system will need to be able to keep up?

The autofocus algorithm in the GFX is the same as in the X Series, but performance is different. The readout speed of the sensor is critical, and that’s not the same. Compared to the X Series, the speed is more limited.

Is this something you’ll be working on in the future?

Yes absolutely.

When you started coming up with the concept for a medium format camera, did you ever consider using a non-mirrorless design?

When we started studying the possible design, we were aware that some of our customers wanted a rangefinder-style camera. ‘It’s a Fujifilm medium-format, it has to be a rangefinder!’ However, at least in our first-generation camera, we wanted to reach a wider audience. We concluded that a mirrorless design would be much more versatile. Mirrorless gives us more freedom, and more flexibility.

The GFX’s 50MP sensor is 4X larger than the APS-C sensors in Fujifilm’s X Series cameras. This entails a lot of extra processing power, which is one of the reasons why the GFX sensor has a conventional bayer pattern filter array. 

Was it easier, ultimately, to design around a mirrorless concept?

There are fewer mechanical parts, which is simpler. No mirror or pentaprism also means smaller size and weight.

Did you design this camera with the intention that customers could use adapted lenses from other systems?

Yes of course. We made the flange-back distance short enough to accommodate mount adapters for legacy lenses. We are making two adapters, one for H (Hasselblad) mount, and one for view cameras.

When will we begin to see mirrorless cameras take over the professional market?

There are several things that mirrorless manufacturers need to focus on. Number one is speed, still, to attract sports photographers. Also viewfinder blackout, we need to innovate there. Maybe one more processor and sensor generation should be enough to make mirrorless beat DSLRs in every respect.

By the time of the Tokyo 2020 olympics, will there be mirrorless cameras on the sidelines?

I think so, yes.

From Fujifilm?

Hopefully!

Can you tell us about the new Fujinon cine lenses that you’ve released?

Yesterday we announced new Fujinon cine lenses, in what we’re calling the ‘MK series. Fully manual zooms, and manual focus. Initially we’re introducing them in E-Mount versions, but X mount will follow. They’re designed to cover Super 35. The flange-back distance of E and X mount are very similar, so we can use the same optics.

The new Fujinon MK18-55mm T2.9 and 50-135mm T2.9 cover the Super 35 imaging area (~APS-C) and are being released in Sony E and Fujifilm X mount.

We have an optical devices division, which markets broadcast and cinema lenses, and I really want to maximize synergies between the broadcast and photography divisions.

Fujinon is well-known in cinema lenses, but until now, the lenses have been very big and very expensive. But now we’re looking at a new kind of video customer, who’s getting into the market via mirrorless. Mostly they’re using SLR lenses, which aren’t perfect. So a lot of those customers are looking for more affordable cinema lenses.

Do you see most potential in the E-mount, for video?

Yes, we think so. But obviously we’re releasing these lenses in X-mount too, and increasing movie quality in the X Series is very important. Traditionally, Fujifilm has been more of a stills company, but when we introduced the X-T2, we had a lot of good feedback about the 4K video, especially about color. Of course we need to do more, and we need to develop more technology, but I think there’s a lot of potential.

For now, Fujifilm tells us that they see most potential in videographers using Sony’s E-mount mirrorless cameras, but the company has ambitious plans to expand the video functionality of its X Series range. 

Moving on to the X100F – what was the main feedback from X100T users, in terms of things that they wanted changed?

A lot of customers wanted improved one-handed operability. So we moved all the buttons to the right of the LCD, like the X-Pro 2. And the integrated ISO and shutter speed dial, for instance.

The lens remains unchanged – why is this?

We looked into whether we should change it, but it would have affected the size of the camera, and we concluded that the form-factor is one of the most important selling-points of the X100 series. Of course we evaluated the image quality, with the new 24MP sensor, but concluded that it was still good.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The X100F features the same 23mm F2 lens as its predecessors, but Fujifilm ran the numbers and saw no reason to update the lens for 24MP. We do wish there was a 28mm version, though.  

Do your customers ask you for an X100-series camera with a 28mm lens?

Yes, of course. That’s why we have the 28mm wide converter for the X100, and the X70. And there’s potential to expand the fixed-lens APS-C camera range more.

Will X-Trans continue in the next generation of APS-C sensors?

For APS-C, definitely. For the GFX format, we’ll probably continue with the conventional bayer pattern. If you try to put X-Trans into medium format, the processing gets complicated, and the benefit isn’t very big.

How big is the extra processing requirement for X-Trans compared to bayer?

X-Trans is a 6×6 filter arrangement, not 4×4, it’s something like a 20-30% increase in processing requirement. 


Editor’s note:

It’s exciting to pick up and use a production-quality GFX 50S, after writing about it for so many months, and Fujifilm’s senior executives are understandably keen to get the camera in the hands of photographers. Due to ship in just a few days, the GFX looks like a hugely impressive product,. We’ll have to wait for Raw support to take a really detailed look at what the camera can do, but our early shooting suggests that image quality really is superb. 

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It was interesting to learn a little about the feedback process, by which Fujifilm gathered notes, impressions, and suggestions from professional photographers after the launch of the GFX last year. The end result is a very nicely balanced camera, both literally (it’s surprisingly lightweight) and figuratively. Although obviously very different to the X series APS-C models, the GFX is simple to figure out, and easy to shoot with. When Mr Iida says that he hopes that ‘the GFX will change how people view medium format’, part of this comes down to handling. 

It was also interesting to hear that Fujifilm considered other types of design for the GFX. Are there concept renderings somewhere of an SLR design, or a rangefinder? Probably. Will we ever see a medium-format SLR or mirrorless from Fujifilm? Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the company releases a rangefinder styled medium-format mirrorless. An X-Pro 2-style camera with a medium-format sensor and a hybrid viewfinder? Yes please.

For now though, the GFX is quite enough camera to be getting on with. Beyond medium-format, indeed beyond still imaging, Fujifilm is eyeing the video market. While Fujinon cine lenses have been popular in the film industry for decades, Mr Iida has his eye on a new generation of videographers, who are growing up using mirrorless cameras like Sony’s a7S and a7R-series. This makes sense, but it’s interesting that the new Fujinon zooms will also be manufactured in X mount versions. This level of confidence from Fujifilm in its X series’ video capabilities is good to see, and bodes well for future product development. 

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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The people and the sights of WPPI 2017

11 Feb

The people and the sights of WPPI 2017

This year’s Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) conference took place in Las Vegas from February 6th through the 9th, and DPReview was there. While we did see a few surprise announcements at this show, WPPI is chiefly an opportunity for industry leading photographers to showcase their work, provide workshops and information sessions, and for visitors take in a wide array of accessories that you never knew you needed and now can’t live without (and, of course, many that you probably can).

We spoke to some of those leading photographers about what their chief takeaways were from WPPI this year, as well as took in some of the sights as we traversed the show floor in the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center.

Sights of WPPI 2017: Print competition

First up, it’s important to note that big parts of WPPI are the print and album competitions, with literally hundreds of stunning prints on display for all to see. They run the gamut from contrasty staged portraits to black and white wedding photojournalism, with a good amount of abstracts thrown in for good measure. It’s a fantastic (and easy) way to kill a couple of hours on the show floor.

People of WPPI 2017: Peter Hurley, with hair

He’ll never look the same. Well, at least not for a very long time. Here seen showing off his trademark ‘squinch,’ Peter Hurley actually shaved and donated his hair to Locks of Love on the final day of the show, after this photo was taken. 

When asked what stood out to him about this year’s conference, Hurley said, “we have fifty people here as part of the headshot crew, and after starting it just five years ago, it’s been amazing to see how the community has grown.”

Sights of WPPI 2017: Fresh lenses

In case you missed it, we saw some announcements for lenses from both Sony and Tamron at the show this year. Tamron announced new ‘G2’ versions of two zooms, their 70-200mm F2.8 and 10-24mm F3.5-4.5 lenses, which will retail for $ 1299 and $ 499, respectively, when they arrive this Spring.

Sony also had some surprise announcements, including an FE 100mm F2.8 STF G Master that promises to have some exceedingly smooth out-of-focus characteristics, as well as an FE 85mm F1.8 that brings an affordable 85mm option to the lineup. They will retail for $ 1500 and $ 600, respectively, and are expected to arrive come March.

People of WPPI: Cliff Mautner

Cliff Mautner is a wedding photographer who serves both Philadelphia and New York and has a background in photojournalism at the Philadelphia Inquirer. We got a chance to catch up with him at this, his fourteenth time attending WPPI.

For Mautner, WPPI is “all about community…this is worldwide recognition. What comes out of this convention generally sets a tone for the wedding and portrait industry globally.”

Sights of WPPI: Furry animals

Given the wide variety of styles and conventions for portrait photography, there was an abundance of themed backgrounds, knit outfits and hats for toddlers, and of course, stuffed animal props guaranteed to up the ‘cuteness’ factor of your newborn and children’s photography.

We found ourselves particularly drawn to a small assortment of imitation chicks, all holding differing poses poses and mimicking varying activities to suit whatever your creative cuteness needs may be.

People of WPPI: Brian Smith

Brian Smith is a portrait photographer specializing in celebrities, athletes and executives, and despite an extensive and impressive list of such clients, he is approachable, unassuming and professional. Smith’s favorite part of WPPI is the general attitudes of the attendees, which are chiefly of expanding creative expression and overall improvement. He enjoys being a presenter and giving attendees tools to make their photographs even better.

Sights of WPPI: Printing products before your eyes

3D printing has been around for a while, but we DPReview editors still felt we got a little dose of science fiction when we stopped by the 3D Flex Flash booth. Their products, designed to act as light modifiers for professional flash guns, are flexible (and therefore easily packable), and are created entirely via 3D printing, as they were demonstrating throughout the show. They offer the Wyng, a bounce diffuser (or flag if you get it in black) as well as the Nest, which is a sort of mini softbox and has optional grid attachments.

People of WPPI: Kenna Klosterman

Kenna Klosterman is a Seattle-based photographer and tour guide specializing on photo tours in Cuba, though she’s traveled to over 40 countries in total. She’s also a Host + Community Connector at CreativeLive, and finds that what she likes most about WPPI is getting to interact with people in the portrait and wedding photography industry in person. “So much of what we do is online,” Klosterman says. “It’s not so much the products for me [at this show], it’s all about the people.”

Sights of WPPI: Coffee faces

I mean, it wouldn’t be a photography show if you couldn’t get your headshot printed into a latte, would it? They’re whipped up in a special Sony lounge section of the show floor. Simply show your Sony camera (our own Wenmei Hill was toting an RX100 V in her purse) to get a caffeinated consumable of your likeness for your very own.

People of WPPI: Dixie Dixon

We ran into Dixie Dixon this year at WPPI’s Nikon booth before the hit the stage for a talk on ‘Bringing the Soul of Fashion to Life.’ Dixon is a commercial fashion photographer whose work takes her around the world. Dixie’s first camera was a Nikon FG which got her into photography at the age of twelve, and she’s become one of the original sixteen Nikon Ambassadors of the US.

Sights of WPPI: Touch the future of photo booths

Foto Master is hoping to bring some ease to the photo booth business. The Mirror Me Booth hides a touchscreen and digital camera behind one-way glass, making for a polished (pun intended) and intuitive photo booth experience. You simply tap to initiate the process, and can later input your printing or delivery preferences, as well as sign your group selfies. 

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Study: people don’t actually like looking at selfies

11 Feb

A couple of weeks ago a Sony-sponsored study found that consumers are ready to embrace selfies as a tool. Now a research paper, published by Sarah Diefenbach and Lara Christoforakos of Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich published in Frontiers in Psychology in January suggests that a majority of smartphone users enjoys taking selfies, but very few people like looking at selfies of others.

The paper is titled ‘The Selfie Paradox: Nobody Seems to Like Them Yet Everyone Has Reasons to Take Them’ and is based on a study that surveyed 238 people from Austria; Germany and Switzerland. Of those who responded, 77% said they take selfies at least once a month and 49% said they receive selfies from others at least once a week. While respondents thought of their own selfies as somewhat ironic and playful, they had less favorable views on others’ selfies.

‘Altogether, participants expressed a distanced attitude toward selfies, with stronger agreement for potential negative consequences (threats to self-esteem, illusionary world) than for positive consequences (e.g., relatedness, independence), and a clear preference (82%) for viewing more usual pictures instead of selfies in social media.’

Many respondents also thought selfies could have an adverse effect on self-esteem and create a superficial and inauthentic image of the person taking and sending them. 90% of participants regarded others’ selfies as self-promotion. However, only 46% of respondents said the same about their own selfies. The research team acknowledges that the results are potentially biased towards the surveyed regions, and that other cultures have more accepting attitudes towards selfies. As so often in science, further study is required.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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How to Pose People for Group Portraits

03 Jan

As someone who does a lot of family and child photos, one of the most rewarding but also the most challenging scenarios I encounter, is that of classic group portraits. You know, the one where you’ve got the whole family together and the kids all dressed up and it’s the first time in three years that the everyone was able to get in one place for a picture. Someone is fussing over an un-tucked shirt, another is texting his buddy, the kids are crying, and grandma and grandpa are patiently smiling away because they’ve been down this road many times before.

It’s a tricky situation to be sure. While every family is unique and there is no one single method that will work for every situation, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to pose the whole gang. Get everyone to chill out long enough so you can get the type of frame-worthy shot that may end up as a giant print on the wall or above a fireplace mantle.

pose group portraits mom and dad and kids

Put the crowd at ease

As a photographer, it can be tempting to get right down to business at the beginning of a photo shoot. You want to show everyone how serious you are about your work, and start barking orders to all parties involved. “Okay Grandma, you sit down over there. Now uncle Jimmy, you go here. And you…what’s your name? Claudia? Can you do me a big favor and get your hands out of your pockets?”

The feeling of authority and power that can creep in when wielding your expensive gear and big lenses can be as intoxicating as it is nerve-wracking. But unfortunately, it’s not the best way to get the shots you want.

pose group portraits family

It’s easy to get so caught up in the idea of getting the perfect picture that you forget about the people whose photos you are taking. You don’t know what happened before they arrived at the session. They are probably a little trepidatious regarding what is about to take place with this photographer and all the fancy cameras and lenses.

The adults are likely on pins and needles because they have invested time, energy, and possibly a lot of money into the ensuing photo session and they just want things to go right. The last thing they need is more stress from a photographer (who can’t even remember their names) telling them where to sit, stand, and look.

pose group portraits bridge family

Take it slow – talk to them first

To solve this problem, I like to spend five or 10 minutes at the beginning of a family or group portrait session not shouting orders or even getting my camera out, but talking with everyone and getting to know them a bit. And for goodness sakes, learn their names!

Learn some other things too. Where do they work? What do they enjoy doing in their spare time? What movies do the kids like? Sure it will add some time to your shoot, and yes I realize the sun is going down soon and you need to get moving. But if you really want to up your game when it comes to family and group portraits try taking some time to get to know the family or group.

They will feel more at ease and want to work with you. Then when you need Claudia to get her hands out of her pockets you can call her by her correct name (Olivia, to be exact) and give her the Vulcan Salute with a wry grin because you just found out that she, like you, is really into Star Trek.

Focus on the kids

While not all group photos involve children, many of them do and in those situations, it’s vitally important to make sure you prioritize the little ones over the grownups. Not that you don’t care about the adults, but they are much more compliant when it comes to following directions and working with you. Kids are another matter entirely, which is why it’s so important to get them on your side early on and then pay extra attention to them during the photo shoot.

I usually make this clear to the grown-ups too, and blatantly tell them that I expect them to smile, hold a pose, etc., because all my attention is going to be aimed at the little ones. I often start by showing my camera to the children and letting them hold some of my gear. This can be especially useful if you are using longer lenses like a 70-200mm that might feel kind of intimidating to them. The process helps acclimatize them to you as a photographer, dispel some of the nervousness that often results during a session, and usually makes the kids more open to following instructions.

pose group portraits family

I also like to joke around with the kids, ask them about their favorite movies, toys, video games, and TV shows even if I have no idea what they’re talking about. (If someone can explain the difference between Peppa the Pig and Spongebob Squarepants I’d sure like to know. Cartoons these days make no sense at all to me.) This makes the kids let their guard down and smile while also putting the parents at ease, and believe me, if the kids are stressed the parents sure will be also. But if little Timmy and Alice are having fun, you can bet mom and dad are too.

Tips for posing

Astute readers will note that by this point I have said almost nothing that relates to the title of this article, which is ostensibly about posing people for group portraits. That’s because posing isn’t really the point here. If you show up with your Canon 5dMark III and 85mm f/1.2 lens and expect to take frame-worthy shots simply by going through a checklist of poses, you’re going to have a hard time.

Portrait photography is built on the foundation of a good professional relationship between you and your subjects. Taking the time to develop this at the outset is critical to getting good images when you start clicking away with your camera. However, when it is time to actually take pictures here are some tips to keep in mind.

pose group portraits large family

Do the must-have shots first

Get the must-have shots done first. These are the ones where you need the whole group in the picture, including the kids, and you need everyone to be at their best and brightest. If it’s a generational picture, put the eldest members (i.e. Grandma and Grandpa) in the middle, sitting down if possible. Surround them with kids. Put the little ones on their laps with any tweens and teens standing next to them. On the sides of the picture place the middle generation, or the children of the grandparents.

As you start taking pictures talk with the people, crack jokes, ask them to say odd things to get them laughing (e.g. “On the count of three everybody say Pepperoni and Pickles!”). In the process, you will not only get the little ones to produce genuine smiles, but the adults usually will too.

Keep it comfortable

Throughout the session, whether there are kids or not, you want your subjects to be comfortable with you and with each other so don’t make them do things that feel awkward or unusual. If you’re working with adults, have them stand up with their hands around their loved ones. (Position hands on backs, not wrapped around waists, or else you end up with floating fingers that look unflattering and unusual).

Use the scenery for seating or to stagger the heights of your subjects in order to get more interesting pictures. If women are on the edge of the frame (outer edge of the group) have them put one hand on their hip with the elbow out.

pose family group portraits

Another tip is to put the tallest person in the center and go down in height from there, but pay attention to relationships too. You’ll notice in the group photo above that the two men are on the edge instead of the middle, which creates a somewhat concave shape to the portrait.

That was an intentional choice on my part since the two young women are daughters of the couple sitting on the bench. I deliberately chose to break a posing rule because I wanted to emphasize the relationships present in the picture, which is something you need to keep in mind when posing for group photos.

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For this picture, I was more concerned with capturing a sense of emotion and family bonding than pixel-perfect posing.

Technical stuff

In terms of raw technical details, know that you need a decently fast shutter speed to freeze motion. So even if your group is standing relatively still I recommend using a shutter speed of 1/125th of a second to minimize blur that often happens due to moving hands or blowing breezes.

As a general rule, I like to shoot at f/4 or smaller (remember that larger f-numbers mean smaller apertures) to get a wider depth of field. Shooting at f/2.8 might give you a nice blurry background, but it could also mean someone in the group will be out of focus due to a shallow depth of field. Finally, off-camera speedlights can be a great way to compensate for harsh or dim lighting and help eliminate shadows on faces.

Finally

One final tip that comes in handy when doing group sessions is to have a shot list prepared with their actual names if possible instead of just placeholder pronouns like Mom, Grandpa, Little Sister, etc. You don’t want to get back to your computer and realize you forgot a crucial shot because you were too focused on getting the hand placements correct.

I hope some of these tips are useful for you, and I’m eager to know what techniques you have found to be helpful in your own shooting too. Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, and may you live long and prosper.

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2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: People

31 Dec

2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: People

Photo by Michal Herrmann

The old man and the sea. Old and hard working, most elderly still need to work to make a living. You can look into his eyes and read his story.

FUJIFILM XT10 with 58MM Helios 44/2 at 58mm, 1/100 sec, ISO 640, F2

Picking your favorite image is never an easy task. Nevertheless, our readers were up to the challenge when we asked them to submit their best shots of 2016. We received a huge number of submissions, and it was no small job picking favorites. We didn’t need the reminder, but it underscored just how talented our readership is. Photos were divided into three categories and we settled on a small selection to feature in each.

For this category, ‘people,’ we looked for photos that tell a story about the human side of this world we inhabit. There were many beautiful and compelling images submitted – be sure to check out all of the submissions here and here.

A huge thanks to everyone that participated and gave us a chance to see your work!

2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: People

Photo by Pavel Matousek

From a photo essay on Kenya children AIDS care program.

Nikon D600 with 50mm at 50 mm, 1/250 sec, F4, ISO 200

2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: People

Photo by Ahnaf Akeef

The Weary Way Back Home. This was taken on a boat on our way back from a waterfall we went to see in Bandarban, Bangladesh.

Canon 6D with 24-70 2.8L II at 70mm, 1/1250 sec, F2.8, ISO 100

2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: People

Photo by Gabriel Jakab

Photo taken in a rainy day or, as I like to say, the Golden Hour for rugby.

Nikon D750 at 200mm, 1/1000 sec, F2.8, ISO 1250

2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: People

Photo by Michel Hébert

Here is a candid portrait shot I took in May 2016 during the Lag BaOmer celebration in the Mile-End neighborhood of Montreal, where there is a quite large Hasidic Jewish community. The contrast between the lighting of some faces (provided by the bonfire in the middle of the street) and the darkness of others reminds me of the clair-obscur/Chiaroscuro style of some dutch painters like Rembrandt. What do you think?

Olympus E-M5 Mark 2 with Olympus 75mm F1.8 at 75 mm, 1/10 sec, F2, ISO 1600

2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: People

Photo by Richard Caughey

Pat McManus live at the Corn Market Blues event at the Raven in Corby, UK. First time out with my Fuji XT2. 

FUJIFILM X-T2 with 18-55mm F2.8-4 at 46.3mm, 1/250 sec, F4, ISO 4000

2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: People

Photo by Myrgjorf

Masai warrior – the lion killer, with a traditional hat from the lions fur. Masai village, Mara North Conservancy.

Canon 7D Mark II with 70-200mm F4 at 150 mm, 1/250 sec, F4, ISO 320

2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: People

Photo by Afzal Khan

The best cook.

Sony A99 with Minolta 50mm F1.7 at 50mm, 1/60 sec, F3.5, ISO 1000

2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: People

Photo by Al Downie

Storytime for sleepyheads

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 with 35mm F2 at 35mm, 1/125 sec, F2, ISO 400

2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: People

Photo by Rick Jacobi

Golden Eagle Festival in Western Mongolia Oct 1st as Kazakhs are entering the parade ground.

Sony A7R-II with 70-300mm at 300mm, 1/250 sec, F10, ISO 200

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Architecture for the People: 10 Subversive and Imaginative Designs for China

15 Dec

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

pao-shipping-container-pavilion

Putting architecture into the hands of the people in a country where home ownership is typically out of reach, this studio has some incredibly innovative ideas, from modular units that ‘plug in’ to the envelopes of historic buildings to unexpected uses for cheap and plentiful materials. These 10 projects by People’s Architecture Office explore the convenience of prefabrication, multipurpose objects and the brilliance of simplicity while still offering structures that are bright, fresh, airy and comfortable.

Courtyard House

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In Beijing, a whole lot of historic architecture has simply been cast aside in favor of newer, cleaner, more spacious suburban housing. Once-vibrant neighborhoods lacking in simple infrastructure like sewer systems are being left behind and neglected, growing more and more dilapidated. PAO has one solution: modern modular units that simply ‘plug in’ to the existing architecture to make it more livable. In the case of ‘Courtyard House,’ the original buildings are used like an envelope for newer structures that can be quickly, cheaply and easy assembled on-site.

Plugin House

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The firm carried the same concept over to ‘Plugin House,’ which slots onto a tiny, awkwardly shaped plot in a traditional ‘hutong’ alleyway. The prefabricated panels used to create these structures already have insulation, plumbing, windows, doors, wiring, interior and exterior finishes built in, and they snap and lock together with no more than a single hex wrench. People who no prior construction experience can put one of these houses together in 24 hours, and it costs less than $ 10,000.

Plugin Tower

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Plugin Tower is another PAO project that easily fits into existing urban environments, and gets around the difficulty of stable housing in China, where land is held exclusively by the government and building private homes is only affordable to the wealthy. This structure requires no foundation, so it doesn’t need planning approval, and it can be picked up and moved to a new location. The prefabricated steel frame comes in a kit of parts, and the modular living units just plug right in. You can rearrange it however you like and expand it when necessary.

Container Pavilion

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Shipping containers are cheap, easy to procure, highly stackable, customizable and a breeze to transport, so it’s no surprise that PAO has made use of them. This cantilevered pavilion consists of six yellow units overlapping six red units in a perpendicular arrangement, creating shaded areas on the ground and a series of rooftop recreation spaces. The ends of each unit are glazed for views of the city and sightless through the entire building.

Hutong Insert: Beijing Culture and Art Center

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PAO uses its skills in inserting modular units into historic structures in their proposal for the Beijing Culture and Art Center, set within a traditional hutong house. A competition to design the project called for a solution that would renovate the building while retaining as much of its original character as possible; PAO’s proposal makes it easy to add lots of interior space without disturbing much of the outer structure at all.

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Architecture For The People 10 Subversive And Imaginative Designs For China

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[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

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4 Tips to Help People Photographers Shoot Interior Spaces

18 Oct

As a people photographer, I am not a specialist in photographing still forms like architectural structures and interior spaces. However, because I photograph weddings, I often take photos of interiors and locations as part of the wedding photos I give my clients. This is essentially how I learned to develop an eye for detail, form and structure as part and parcel of my work.

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Let me share with you a few tips I have learned that will hopefully get you started in photographing interior spaces and architecture if you are a people photographer.

#1 Use natural light

One of the advantages of still photography is simply that – nothing moves. You can leverage this by playing with your settings, especially the shutter speed. With the camera rested on a tripod or a table, you can play around with very slow shutter speeds to maximize capturing ambient light even in very dark corners, limited light, or night interior photography. If there are lamps and lights that make up the overall ambiance of the room, include them and take advantage of slow shutter speeds and long exposures. You can also keep your ISO low this way and have the bonus of clean noiseless images.

It is important to remember that for interiors, you should aim for balanced lighting. Meaning there are no overly dark shadows or overly bright highlights. You want to see the detail in dark areas but not blow out the light areas altogether. Because we are talking about natural light, think about which times of the day which best feature the interior space. Early morning and late afternoon light are the softest. Overcast days produce soft light. Bright super sunny days produce harsher light especially midday and therefore you may want to take into consideration shadows produced in the interior from harsh outside light. In contrast to photographing people, I would normally use these shadows as an artistic element of the photo. Interior spaces however are different and this may not always be appropriate.

Early morning and late afternoon light are the softest. Overcast days produce soft light. Bright super sunny days produce harsher light, especially midday. Therefore you may want to take into consideration any shadows produced in the interior from harsh outside light. In contrast to photographing people, I would normally use these shadows as an artistic element of the photo. Interior spaces, however, are different and this may not always be appropriate.

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#2 Don’t forget your 50mm lens

Not only is the 50mm lens the closest lens that resembles the human eye (when using a full frame camera), it is also the perfect lens to separate some areas and details of the space without going in too close. In a way, it is an excellent “portrait” lens for spaces, whereas my 85mm is my choice of portrait lens for people.

When using wider lenses, I find I have to correct quite a lot of distortion on the edges of the frame. With the 50mm this is hardly an issue. The results are pleasing to the eye and it evokes a very natural look, making you feel like you are within the actual space yourself.

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4-tips-photographing-interiors-tutorial_0008

#3 Get the white balance right

This is tricky and the nemesis of many photographers. Most non-photographers are oblivious to white balance. This is especially obvious in weddings where the bride’s dress looks blue and people’s faces register as magenta, yet hardly anyone notices.

When I sold my house a few years back, the real estate agents who boasted of great property photography sent a photographer to my house to take some professional pictures. She arrived with a camera on the tripod and a flash head pointed slightly upwards. The lens used was very wide – I guessed around 10mm or 14mm. It took many days before the photos were up online, when finally I saw them, they were all very blue. My home felt so cold and not homely. One of the reasons for that was the incorrect white balance.

Personally, I prefer a warm feel to all my photos so I tend to edit towards that side. But do be careful that the whites still look white and not yellow or cream. Remember that what often draws people to an image is a feeling or emotion. Your image becomes all the more powerful if it reminds the viewer of a sentiment, experience, or something that resonates with them. White balance is key in helping achieve this kind of engagement with your viewer.

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#4 Remember to go close, not just wide

Nowadays, when you browse through interior design catalogues or blogs, you will come across many interior details, arrangements and vignettes that do not show the entire space. Everyone is doing it from high street department stores to high end interior designers. There must be a good reason for it. In order to reinforce engagement and a connection to your audience, details are essential.

Imagine walking into a space, or that you are viewing a house for the first time. Before you walk though the door, you survey the outside look of the property and its surroundings. You do the same as you walk in, surveying the overall scene before your eyes. But when you are inside you get closer and see the details.

You may want to touch and feel the walls, flip some switches on if they work, or sit on the sofa with fluffy scatter cushions. You want to get close, touch and feel things. It is not only a visual connection then, it becomes physical. This is the sense you want to achieve with your images when the viewer is not physically in the space. That is why close up shots and details are important.

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Conclusion

With photography, aim to connect with your viewers not only by using visual senses but also with the power of emotion. If you can add a virtual physical touch to this engagement, all the better. When viewers look at your images and say, “I feel like I was actually there.” take that as one of the highest compliments.

I hope you enjoyed this little beginner’s journey into interior photography. Of course there are many more tips like straightening horizons and shooting through doors. If you have any other awesome tips, do share them here in the comments below.

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10 Tips to Help You Create Unique Storytelling People Photos

16 Sep

storytelling with photos leadFor most of us, the joy of photography goes beyond taking a great image, to being able to share our pictures and experiences with our friends and family. To do storytelling with images.

How many times have you been traveling and come across someone interesting that you wanted to share with your family? Did asking for permission hold you back? Did you get a photo or series of photos that really tell the story? Were your photographs different and did each add a new perspective?

The following tips will walk you through a real-life example of how I shot a glassblower in his shop and created a series of unique photos to tell his story.

#1 – Get clear on your goals for the shoot

Something attracted you to this person or situation. What peaked your interest? Do you like the subject’s purple hair? Do you love photographing people having fun? Do you want to try to capture the beautiful light on someone’s face? Or perhaps you love dance and would like to capture a dancer in a beautiful portrait?

Here are my thoughts on the glassblower. What I wanted to photograph, what I wanted to do and why I wanted to do it.

Why I wanted to photograph the glassblower:

I have been a Canon user for a long time and Sony lent me one of their new cameras and two lenses (50mm and a 90mm) for a trial run. I had already spent some time playing with the camera by photographing squirrels and I was ready to try something with a little bit more potential.

storytelling with photographs

While on vacation in a small beach town, I noticed a small shop run by a local glass blower. He made beautiful glass as well as offered lessons to tourists. I liked the idea of photographing the glass blower for several reasons:

  • He makes beautiful art.
  • The workshop is interesting with a lot of picture possibilities.
  • I could shoot available light in his workshop.
  • He was there all day doing interesting things which means I had a lot of time to shoot.
  • He seemed very proud of his work.
  • He seemed to have an extroverted personality and a sense of showmanship.

What I wanted to do:

I wanted to be able to photograph him as he worked and interacted with others.

My most important goal was to have the opportunity to shoot something pretty simple as I learned to drive this new camera. I liked this situation because I could shoot available light and there was enough action and movement that I could test out the different autofocus settings as well as the creative features of the camera.

I also wanted to be able to shoot, leave to download my images, and come back to the same situation later to tweak my approach. I had found my subject, I just needed to get permission.

storytelling with photos

#2 – Be honest about what you want and don’t be afraid, just ask!

A lot of photographers are shy about asking friends, relatives, and strangers if they can take their photo. Asking is easy if you are honest, sincere, and you know why you want to photograph the person.

The truth is, some people hate to have their photo taken and so be prepared for a no. If someone shies away from the idea, perhaps they require more convincing. Some people actually enjoy being persuaded, so push gently after the first no. There could be a yes hiding behind a little bit of shyness.

And, if you get a no, remember that it’s never personal. Some people are just going to say no. Sometimes the person being asked has no idea why anyone would want to photograph them. They are afraid you are going to make them look dumb and they can’t imagine why anyone would want to take their photograph. That is why step #1 is important.

storytellings with photographs

Before you ask permission, get clear on what you want so you can explain it and overcome any objections. Yes, it’s partly sales, but if you are sincere and enthused and truly want to photograph them, most of the time they will feel flattered and say yes.

How I approached the glassblower

When I approached John to ask him if I could photograph him, I had my camera over my shoulder. I told him his work was beautiful and I’d love to take some photographs. He beamed. He loved the attention.

Note: I didn’t run into the shop taking pictures without permission. I intentionally had my camera, though, so he knew from the start that I was interested in taking photographs. Having your camera on your shoulder, hanging loosely is non-threatening. If he had an aversion to having his picture taken, he would have felt much more relaxed than if I had put a camera in his face. This isn’t paparazzi. It’s about connecting with someone you want to spend some time with.

I told him the truth. That I was in town visiting and I wanted to learn how to use this new camera. I smiled and told him I had already photographed every squirrel in town and was ready to shoot some people. He laughed.

telling stories with photographs

Being able to put people at ease is a great step toward getting a yes. I find it easier to connect with people as a student than a professional. When I approach people as a professional they put up more of a front. When I’m just trying to learn my camera, the pressure is off the subject to do or be anything.

If you are looking for great vacation photos and stories to share with your friends and family, say so. Imagine if a traveler approached you, said you looked amazing and would love to show people back home what people here looked like? You’d be flattered! Of course!

I also explained that I was testing the camera and I might shoot for awhile, go look at pictures, then come back again to shoot some more. Would that be okay? He got excited over the attention and immediately started to share photos another photographer had taken. He loved the idea of being photographed and I had a subject.

#3 – Be considerate

You are shooting in someone else’s home, yard, or business, so be courteous. If a customer comes in, the customer comes first. Always take the back seat. It’s a privilege when someone allows you to take their photo. Remember that and you will always be welcome.

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#4 – Tell your subject to pretend you aren’t even there

First of all, you will get better pictures and expressions if your subject keeps busy doing what they love. You can watch how they do it and begin to anticipate their next move. Secondly, especially if you are working in a place of business, you don’t want to distract them from their livelihood. If you do, they will grow impatient and suggest the session is over.

I often get close to shoot and then back away for awhile. It relaxes the subject and keeps them off guard. It truly allows them to forget about me and get into their zone.

how to tell stories with photographs

#5 – Really work the situation

Create a variety of shots, with the goal that each shot adds a different element or idea to the story. Walk around, shoot high and low, and use a variety of lenses. Work on cleaning up the background and capturing great expressions. Look for opportunities and unique ways of showing it. Experiment. Have fun. Get creative.

telling stories with photographs

#6 – Shoot portraits

Look for different expressions, light, and angles. Shoot tight and shoot loose. Include the environment in some shots. Work on taking candids as well as photos with the subject looking at the camera. I loved the light on John’s face when he was looking at the fire and how it reflected in his glasses.

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Remember, variety is the key. Notice how many different expressions John has in the different photos in this article. Each expression helps to add an element to the story.

telling stories with photographs

#7 – Shoot action shots

Tell the story of what the person does. Try shooting the same activity in different ways.

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#8 – Shoot close-ups and details

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#9 – Shoot hands

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#10 – Photograph relationships

Try to capture the relationship your subject has with other people. In these photos, a tourist stopped by to blow his own piece of glass.

telling stories with photographs telling stories with photos

You now have the tools to approach strangers to ask them if you can spend time with them taking pictures. These rules apply to every situation, whether it’s a musician in the street, your child’s ballet class, or a homeless person. Remember to know your intention and be honest with the subject. Sincerity has opened many, many doors for me.

Once you are inside the door, really work your subject to tell the story. Try different angles and remember to shoot close as well as far away. Shoot portraits, close-up shots, focus on recording what the subject is doing, as well as their relationships.

What story would you love to shoot? Do you know a musician in your neighborhood or a craftsperson? Share your thoughts below, go out and shoot and then share your images in the comments below.

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