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Strange/Beautiful: Stop Working So Hard to Get Good Portraits

If you like another photographer's style then try incorporating it into your own. Diane Arbus posed her subjects - they were all aware they were getting their picture taken. Current convention and tastes seem to be more concerned with taking candid shots that don't interrupt the subject. Mayeb it's time to start interrupting people again....

Photo by slumbrnghok

I am sick of all this philosophy that says ‘be candid’, ‘don’t pose your portraits’ and ‘don’t interrupt your subject or it’ll ruin the moment’. Remember Rule 10: “Ignore the rules!” The only reason they exist is to be broken.

I really like the way Diane Arbus shoots. She had a very clinical, clean style which allows the subject to be what the photograph is about, and not let technique or photographic-style overwhelm the image.

I love posing people to take their picture, especially when I’m shooting black and white. I’m much more confident in making people look good with black and white than I am in colour.

Next time you have a roll of black and white loaded try speaking to your subjects and having them pose for you. I like to get quite close with a standard lens. If you go telescopic you can get some nice, flattering shots but I like the reaction I get from people when I’m close to them with my SLR. They get excited and sometimes nervous when I’m that close. It can throw people out of their comfort zone and yield awesome photographs.

When your subject engages with you directly, it can make a photograph so much more powerful than if they’re ignoring you. Try it. Shoot first and ask permission later.

If you engage with your subject you will find you can shoot good photographs quite quickly and you can also get an insight into your subject which will inform your photography.

written by slumbrnghok

1 comment

  1. emperornorton

    emperornorton

    Our heritage began with posed portraits and I don't see any reason for a thoughtful photographer to cease creating them. Rather than insisting on candid photos, insist on portraits that give the impression of candidness.

    over 2 years ago · report as spam