When I need to shoot some portrait photos, and do not want to lose myself in technical details that sometimes destroy the spontaneity of the moments, I have an infallible remedy. It is inside a box of old photographs.
In the books of professional photography you can find plenty of advice to obtain a well done portrait. For example, the great photographer Andreas Feininger in his book “Photographic Seeing” warns you to avoid poles and branches above the subject’s head, and warns you to avoid the shadows under the nose (that makes a nice girl more older than she really is), teaches you to open the diaphragm to reduce the influence of a bad background , and many other tricks, like the use some reflective umbrellas to lighten the shadows. This is very important, but what will you do to keep the spontaneity of the shot?
Well, the remedy is very simple: I open a box of old analogue photographs to see some portraits I had taken when I was 10 or 11 years old, using a Kodak Instamatic (still working , although I cannot find the rollers anymore). This camera was like a Leica MP for me!
Here are some candid shots taken with my classmates in elementary school.
And here you can see some photos taken at the wedding of my uncle (my maternal grandfather, and the spouses).
A great help when I’m looking for spontaneity in my portrait shots!
Maybe the Ten Rules of Lomography are only written rules of the naive way used by children to photograph what they are seeing.