Photos Of People


Travel Photography


Lesson Info

Photos Of People

It's one of the areas that I struggle with, I'll be honest with you, I know there's a lot of people out there that are kind of how do you go up to a perfect stranger and ask to photograph them and that's something that I do not feel comfortable with? I'm going up to a perfect stranger and talking to them in some ways, it's, just like the worst thing in the world, but if it's important enough to you, you make it happen, and so sometimes it's just so compelling, you overcome all your fears, and so you have to embrace the photography and say, this is important, and I want this, and I'm going to do what it takes to talk to this person so let's kind of walk through the different levels, let's start with some street and candid, so when you were brought walking around the streets and you're just doing candid photography, you're not getting permission. You're just photographing things that you see around. I had a lot of fun in egypt photographing and some of the alleyways, and I was walking ar...

ound with somebody who was a local there who kind of knew the safe place is for me to go, and they were making sure that didn't go any bad places and just photographing things now I'm going to totally admit to you that I totally cop out on a lot of these things I photographed kids because kids like having their picture taken and I like working with people who like to have their picture taken so I end up shooting lots of pictures of kids in whether they're paying attention to me or not in some cases I'm using longer telephoto lenses where people don't see see me taking their photograph this is in mali uh they've just getting out of a mosque again in molly this is, uh this is very near timbuktu we got to go through timbuktu, which is always a great place to check off on your list of travels, but sometimes you're with wide angles and urine really crowded areas, and sometimes when you go to these markets, when you first step into the scene, everybody just looks at you and then they start getting concerned with other things and suddenly you blend into the background and so if you want to get good photograph, I don't expect it to do ok, I'm ready to take a picture, you kind of come in and you're just kind of hanging out. Yeah, I got a camera here click maybe I'll take a picture every once in a while and so you're not being really obnoxious with the camera in these cases, you're just kind of blending into the scene and you can see here that pretty much and as I looked through this I don't think anyone is looking at me and considering where we are ah white guy with the camera is pretty unusual but they don't even care because life just goes on and become part of the background in ethiopia that nice light just before sunset really helped this photograph out and so a lot of times I do use telephoto lenses to help isolate the people and once again lots of kids kids are very easy to photograph the next images one of my favorite images from africa and illustrates how terrible of a photographer I am in some ways I saw these three kids arm in arm and I thought, wow okay, I gotta grab this shot and this was literally the first shot that I got off and as soon as I took this picture they turned around and like, what are you doing there and their state arm in arm? And I I told you stand here and I'm gonna come back here and shoot your picture I was trying to pose them for a poetic photograph and it looked terrible and I I'm terrible opposing people, which is why I'm not ah fashion photographer and working in the studio at posing that's not my class if you see john gringos posing guide something in the universe has drastically altered I'm much better at seeing something that looks good and recognizing it has something that's good, and if I might just go off on a tangent for a moment, there are kind of two types of photographers and all of us embrace a little bit of both of these types of photographers, and one type is I would call and explore, and the other type is a creator. The explorer looks around the world and they find something interesting and then they photograph it. The creator creates something in their mind that they want to create, and then they go out and they physically make it happen and it's, not that you're all there one you have little bits of both in you and I tend to be more of an explorer. I don't know it's a good shot until I can see it and I have a hard time posing people and faking things because I can't even fake things to make look good, I can recognize them and so I speak of this because you should recognize your own qualities, what you are good at and what you are not good at, because if you are gifted with the ability to create, that allows you to do certain types of photography that I'm not very good at. And that's wonderful and make use of it, but just be aware of your limitations and what you're best at and so, you know, more candid shots. This is actually shot from a car, we were actually stopped and they were trying to sell us something. Uh, this was at a dance and my sister came up with a little bubble window of what he just said and what he just said wass that's, right? I just farted, and when you were taking pictures with people showing them the photographs is a good way to kind of get them on board of what you are doing. A lot of these people, I've travelled to a lot of third world countries where people just don't have the funds to have a nice digital slr camera, and they don't get the opportunity of having their photograph taken, and so sharing their photograph is a good way to share that experience and make it a fun, exciting experience for everyone involved showing them what it looks like through the camera can be kind of fun, and so here, setting up the camera just for their height that can see what's going on. In one case, I just set my camera up and let them look through the camera one at a time. They had a great time searching out what's going on, and this is a good reason why I have a second camera with me so I can photograph my first camera and the people around it when you're shooting people kind of that street and candid, you'll often encounter parades, festivals, dances, things like that and so thinking about how to shoot this, this is in bhutan, they have a par oh festival it's, the most colorful dance I've ever seen in my life and for any photographer who wants to go, it will wear you down it's three days long, and it goes on for about eight hours every day, and so you will go through a ton of photographs. We went here the day before to kind of check out the courtyard. I'm sure all of you have heard of the dalai lama. Dalai lama is the head of the lamas. This is the lama he's, the head of this monastery, and we could see that they had had that wall a little bit more colorful, so we knew where we wanted to be and we got there probably an hour before the event started so that we could stake out our location. We just sat there on the cold cement for an hour waiting for events to start, but we wanted to be in the right place. Looking for all the details around you have to be constantly observing things looking at this, looking at that and sometimes, like in this particular case we weren't able to move, so you kind of had to stay put and you're going to shoot what you can with what lenses you have and so you're going to try to shoot basically the one scene in front of you in his many different ways as possible trying to pay attention for little tiny moments like this, you know, that sometimes just happened for a second or two and so this is why you're anticipating and you're like, well, there's this kid he looks out of here we once in a while I'm gonna be ready the next time he looks out because it's not happening for minutes upon minutes of time it's being ready for that exact moment. So how about some tips for just shooting events? Okay, let's start with scouting locations ahead of time we talked about this if you go there the day before a few hours before see what you're getting into, what is the background going toe like? Where are people going and coming from? Think about shooting a photo story sometimes it's hard to capture a big event in a one in one photograph think about well, if I had to tell this story in five photographs, what would those five photographs be now, what do I need to do to make those five photographs happen? Start wide and move in it's usually easiest to kind of shoot the wide scene and they get closer and closer. A lot of times, people will just get used to you shooting pictures so they don't mind the fact that you're getting closer. Sometimes people are a little scared when you jump right in with the macro lens right in their face right away, so you gotta start wide and then slowly move your way in looking for patterns, colors, characters and looking for the most unusual aspect. The most unique thing that's going on there, that's what people are going to be interested in that's probably what you're going to remember most. How about five tips for just general street and candid work? A lot of people just get so excited, they start just randomly taking pictures wherever they happen to be, and you really have to think about what's the right angle that where do I need to be standing in order for this to be the right picture? A lot of people get so excited there, just like, well, this is kind of cool, I'm gonna take a picture right now, well, maybe you'd be petty. Better if a person was right there let's wait for a person to move right there and so you gotta wait these things out and sometimes you need to say ok, I'm going to sit here for ten minutes that's how much time I have a lot can a lot myself and see if I can get a good picture in ten minutes because after ten minutes I better move on to another location because maybe this place isn't as good as I think it's going to be be careful of the shutter speed because you want to be careful about blurring you khun blur things that could be really nice but sometimes you don't want it so just be aware of where your shutter speed is especially if you're shooting in aperture priority I like to stay I'm no truce if and as low key as possible, so I'm not wearing big flashy clothing and I'm not really flashing my cameras around I'm keeping them slung over my shoulder kind of out of sight and not making a big news sis of myself and I don't know how to explain this but there is a balance between being bold and respectful you should be respectful of the places you go and the people you meet sometimes you need to you need to get out there and get the shot but there is a balance between that I don't know howto explain it all I can say is I hope your parents haven't instilled in you because it will come into play in the field the next level of getting closer is what is called the environmental portrait and this is where you are probably working with an individual you've asked them can I take your picture and if you don't speak the language just point to your camera and point to them and they'll kind of either no thank you are okay on you can work with them now realize that once you have that contract to work with somebody you have a very short period of time in which to do your job thank yourself right now if somebody stopped you on the street and ask you to photograph you let's just say that you said okay how long would you tolerate them shooting your picture ten seconds twenty ten minutes no and so for most people it's measured in seconds so you have to be ready for these sorts of things and you have to be quick on your feet to think when I was in egypt another places I said I hope to go back to do a trip on one of the places I definitely want to go to is the camel auction this is a great place its massive chaos lots of dust and in this one particular area actually this gentleman asked me to photograph him with his camels andi I said yes I would love to photograph you and I said please come over here and stand here because we were right by the camels at the time and I do you do need to give some direction from time to time and he was like no no no no I don't want my picture here I'm like well why and he said those aren't my camels okay, well where your camels and he pointed to his camel and I said that really doesn't work for me uh the light's not very good and he did agreed and this is not his camel so he wasn't completely happy with it and so this is a balance between being bold and respectfully kind of have to work with him but I think I got a nice shot of him in front of what looks to be his camels this is rana in egypt she's actually um exchange student who used to go to the university of washington and she was actually a contact who I used in egypt when I was there and she has kind of an orchard farm that she's out on goes out and feeds the animals and so just using a little bit of the environment around they're showing the environmental import it is showing a bit of the environment around the subject matter in this case this was in mali and I had this pretty well lined up and he then realised I was taking his picture, and he thought he was in the way of the shot, and I had to explain to him no, just stay where you were exactly his as you were, and so I did have to tell him to go back to where he wass in this case, and in this case, I was shooting with a tripod to get it as sharp as possible. I did give a little bit of direction to this little kid in togo to he was running around town with this little tire, and I told him, we'll go over here and run this direction if you're going to run some place, run someplace that I have a reasonable background to work with, and he was more than happy to run back and forth so many times with that little tire in that stick, uh, back in egypt, this is one of those cases where you know, he's just coming around. Actually, I don't know if you can tell in this picture, but in this little tiny stor, there is a tree growing in the middle of the store, and he was just walking around the tree, and it was one of these things where I had my camera already. And we said could just hold there for a second and you quickly grab maybe one two shots and that's it your opportunity is over and that's why you have to totally be ready for the moment and so a lot of times it's just tell people do whatever you're doing, I don't I'm not gonna give you any direction all just do what it is that you're doing because you're an expert at it and you know what, two d'oh this was so funny because I was trying to employ the rule of thirds here where you put a subject off to the corner and I was trying to figure out why I couldn't do it with her because she kept moving towards the center of the frame and I realized that she was fascinated by her reflection in the filter of my lance and she was constantly moving back towards the center of the frame oh yes and onto your point about when you stop people and you say I'll just keep doing what you're doing how do you avoid them posing like I've noticed in other countries people all of a sudden gather together and smile and soon a soon as they start to do something to say no, no, no, just do your thing andi they generally respect generally respond to that yeah, okay, yeah, I mean, if you're not clicking they know that they're not doing something right in that regard, and so I generally really haven't had that problem, and so when you tell somebody just do what you normally do, they know how to do that and so just checking thanks this is in bhutan, I have no idea why these kids posed with a boxing stance, but maybe that's that was very popular in their culture at their school or something and that's what they liked and you know, the fact that the kid on the right is not looking at the cameras, what I like most about the photograph that he's checking out his friends and their their little boots in egypt, there was a factory, and this is one of those cases where, you know, I asked if I could photograph what they're doing and you just do what you do, and I'm gonna photograph what you're doing in jordan. I was just walking around the streets just looking for things to photograph, and I had to walk past this store maybe three or four times it's it was kind of like in high school, I'd have to pass by the girl three or four times before I had the courage to ask her to dance and in this case is like, does this guy seem busy? Would he be willing to be photographed? And I eventually started talking with him and we couldn't communicate because we spoke different languages but I did start to communicate with him and I wanted to take his picture and I wanted to see because I had a feeling and it was true this is his store that's the entirety of his store it's basically ah hallway but I was really fascinated with the blue tile had a blue floor to it and this incredible blue tiling on the wall and it's only about three feet across and all he does is he makes coffee is a little very simple way of making coffee and despite the fact that I'm from seattle I know this is very strange I don't drink coffee but you got a deuce what you got to dio and so I bought a cup of coffee from you you know and so this is where you gotta go with the flow with where you're going okay? And I'm pretty sure it wasn't good coffee but it didn't really matter you know you're trying to work the situation and so this is a little bit of a photo story of the place that he works and so I asked for a little bit more of a formal portrait here and I did just you know just tell him stand here in your shop I didn't tell him to put his hands like that I'm more than happy to let people pose themselves I give them very little direction just stand there however it feels comfortable to you because if it feels comfortable to you it's probably gonna make a nice photograph that represents who you are and what you're comfortable doing. Okay, so five tips on shooting environmental style part treats really be aware of all these other loose, cluttered things in the background and so choosing the right lands and getting rid of all these extra elements because you want your subject you want a little bit of their environment, but you don't want really awkward, cluttered things that just don't make sense in there, so just crop those out of possible watch out for your shutter speed because you do want your subject sharp people want to see the subject of your photograph but is a compromise because you also need depth of field so these photos could be very challenging to take because it's a it's a mixed bag of needs there you are going to need to take a serious of shots in most cases, if you have that opportunity to shoot ten or twenty shots taken, sometimes you only get a few takers many a cz you have that window of opportunity for and as we've just been talking about, you can give your subject a little direction if necessary because some people just stand there like this some kids will stand there like this okay, this is how you stand for pictures you know like no, listen up, listen up have some fun and you know, with kids you can tell him to do all sorts of crazy things that they're doing no problem and then they'll relax and then they'll smile and we'll be happy and so forth all right, so let's get to the nasty, okay, five tips on tipping all right? Because there's always questions and it's always a struggle do you pay somebody when you photograph them? Well, first, you should be aware of what the local customs are about tipping. There are some locations and I shared one with you before actually to where you don't just go out and shoot pictures of people. You've got to find that out ahead of time and so figure out what's the standard with where you were going in general, you don't offer money if it's not asked for and while it's not a tip on here, it's better to contract ahead of time van afterwards and so they're going to ask for money they should be asking upfront for it. One of the things that I'll do and this is kind of a wayto weasel out of things is all barter with a merchant posing as part of the deal and so there's been a number of times where I'm like, wow, I really like this would you mind posing with it? So I could get a photograph of the person who made this item that I'm going to bring into my home and so you get a souvenir you get a photograph of who made the souvenir all in the same shot and so it's kind of getting two for one in my opinion and they get to do something at no cost to make the sale so it's it's a win win win for them as well you want to keep the people that you're working with two smaller groups sometimes travels to the edge you get too many kids around and there's too much going on and it gets too chaotic and it could potentially get dangerously try to keep it to smaller groups of people in one on one that you are working with so try not to get involved with kids you know, twenty five kids all at the same time some of them could be pickpockets you don't know it's just things could get a little chaos chaos and finally if you could make it a mutual beneficial interaction uh there are many times when I've been traveling and somebody will come up and he'll say american right? And yes I'm from america I'm practicing my english and you're like okay, well let's let's talk english can I take your photograph and you'll talk with them and you'll trade english lessons for five minutes for a photograph or you'll show somebody your photographs or maybe you'll carry little trinkets or something that you give. One of the things I do is I'll bring some of my pictures of seattle with me with my little website logo and it's not like I'm trying to advertise to them, but I'm going to give them a little gift that they could put on their refrigerator of the photographer that they met in some far off land in country here in seattle. And so there are times when you do need to pay somebody because they've done something really unique and you're taking their time, and that should be contract it ahead of time. How much you pay totally depends on what country you're ed and how much time you're going to spend with them, but my feeling is if I'm gonna pay for a shot, I'm going to get a darn good shot and I want some time from you, and so I'll pay you a healthy amount of money for a healthy amount of time. I tend not to want to pay a dollar per shot that's, not the way that I would work in general, I tend to avoid people that are asking for money for their picture taken um, there seems to be more than enough people who are happy, too willing to have a little international interaction and have a nice little conversation, even if it's not all in english or whatever language you speak uh and there's enough of those people that you could get great pictures with them and avoid everyone else quick question from told fiction cue from amsterdam does john ever send people the picture he took of them for example, that little kid with the tire I bet his parents would treasure that photo forever the little kid with the tire treads river which one that oh the tire no, that one was never sent back that would be very difficult I have no idea who that was I don't even know the name of the village I suppose I could have kept track of it at the time and that's really hard to do in certain locations if one of the one of the rules in here is that if you say you're going to send a picture by goodness you send a picture don't promise something you have no intention of not doing uh there is a picture that you're going to see in a few moments my favorite portrait that I did send back and did make sure that I could get the connection back there because it was it was so important to me and so sometimes I'll do it even if it's not asked, but if they ever asked for it, it gets really challenging when somebody doesn't have an email address or a physical address in order to do this but if you can that's a great way of saying thank you and with email you can send him electronic copy at zero cost and it's a it's the least you could dio and so it's a good option two d'oh awesome all right there are quite a few people in the chat rooms right now wondering about contracts and getting permission to actually use the photos of them it's later that you take and especially wondering you know us versus international um use like if you're taking pictures of somebody here in the us they might have different behaviours than somebody's maybe in africa no, I'm not gonna dismiss all of them because this is more about people going out and photographing for their own personal reasons and there's a whole other class on the business of taking photographs like that and marketing and selling them if you plan to use them for commercial purposes ideally you should have a lawyer that talk teo in your home country and find out what your legal restrictions are and necessities of getting permission but generally you need a model release there are even model releases that you can get for your phone you can take a picture of the subject their photograph is on the little contract they consign it right there on the phone and you can get everything kind of right there done on the phone you can email it off to your licensing agency, you can e mail it back to their address so everything's connected and that's probably the best way of doing things now, but you can download and there's a number of model releases that you can get, but this is an area that I am not an expert, and so I'm not going to claim to know everything that you should know and be able to tell you, but just be really clear about what you're going to be doing with your photographs and how you're going to be marketing and selling those and whether you need those restrictions or not. And this does vary from country to country and region to region and it's a big issue, and I I wish we could do more on that, but it's kind of beyond the scope of this particular class. Okay, so let's, move on to the classic portrait, and this is where you have definitely asked somebody to photograph them and you're going to get usually a nice, tight headshot is what it comes down to a head and shoulder shot showing the person sometimes more so lots of tips here, let's. Just start off with five tips on this let's get your camera ready, you are one hundred percent ready when you have asked them to photograph that way you have their attention, they're not waiting for you to do anything don't get so excited that you they have said yes, you forgot to check well, is this good light? You know where you're gonna put them? And so you really want to think about these things picking a subject you want to choose the right person, the right person is somebody that looks the way that you want them to look or you're excited about the way they look and somebody who's not real busy right now and somebody who is willing to do it because there are some people in some cultures they feel obliged to help you and if a fisherman is trying to get fish out of his boat and you asked him to come over here and take a portrait that's really interfering with this life maybe wait till he's done find somebody else that you could use that isn't busy at that time, I just don't like to intrude some people just barge right in and do whatever they want that's not my particular style think about the background, a lot of amateurs just get so excited I'm just going to shoot you and you think, well, let's see, where can we go? I know we only have thirty seconds, but maybe if you stood over here it would be better and so just giving them some direction ist so that you can have the right background to work with and one of the rules that I haven't for anybody who's going to cuba one of the rules that I have is one photographer per subject if you were being photographed and there are six people pointing cameras at you, where should you look? He looked like a scared rat in a maze it's intimidating enough having your picture taken it should only be done by one person and so if there's somebody that's agreed to do it and so if we're in cuba and I'm talking with a little kid and we take your picture yeah, fine, okay, so bill, you go in there and take a minute, get good could get a good shot, everybody else just kind of hang out in the back and don't worry about it, you know, if somebody was way off in the distance shooting with the four hundred millimeter lands that's not a big deal, I just don't like this gang shooting the pit of a fashion show that's not the way we're gonna be doing photographs in cuba one photographer per subject maybe you'll only get thirty seconds but you will have your chance to get your one unique moment. All right? So I don't know that there's a lot to say with these photographs I'm their tight shots they're rarely taken anywhere near sunshine there's just a little bit of sunshine kind of filtering in in this case so you're trying to avoid bright sunlight in many cases I'm thinking very much about the background how does the background play with subject that I'm looking at in some of these cases these are people that have come up to me and asked me to photograph them in other cases I just kind of pointed the camera adam and I'm taking your picture because you're standing right next to me as I said, I don't know what to say just let him play this was the, uh, spiritual leader of a small tribe in africa and one of those things where you get one or two shots and your your shuttle the way is long as you get one of the key things I've learned working with art and the gang is uh a great place to pose people is in a doorway because it's dark on the inside dark backgrounds are nice it's bright on the outside and it's a nice light bouncing up and hitting your subject is very even light and so if you got no place to put somebody just stand in this doorway and I'm going to stand outside and shoot your picture inside and there's really no direction necessary so my favorite classic portrait that I shot is not the next picture but this is the subject and this is in jordan there was a four year old boy wearing ah little turban and drinking tea and he actually had tauron his turban off and asked his mom could you put that back on him because he looks really good in that turban and he was just a really cute boy he really wasn't interested he was not really capable of posey he's a four year old boy okay and he's moving around but he is more concerned with drinking tea than anything else he's mildly interested in what I'm doing and I got maybe two minutes of shooting time with him and you know he got his lips all puckered around that glass which is kind of a fun shot but the shot that makes it perfect is just there's a certain tilt to the head a look of the eyes notice the way he's grasping the mug with his fingers and the next picture no it's gone there is that special little moment it builds up to it to a peak and you you're ready you got your camera ready you're shooting through the moment you never know when it's going to get better or worse and so you just keep shooting and you come away and remember after this I was almost shaking going that was like perfect on this image is completely un cropped I shot it exactly this framing and it was one of those times were you got exactly where you are and you know if you wanted to get really technical you could go into a photography forum and someone would say ah he only used in f four lands it would've been much better if he used in eighty five one point to because that's a better portrait lands well you know I had a seventy two, two hundred it was set around a hundred millimeters I shot it wide open you know, on the ragged edge f ford around a hundred twenty fifth of a second but I was there and I got something that made me really happy and so this is my favorite portrait and so I look forward the day that I will take another better picture than this one but that's one of my favorite so five more tips on shooting portrait is plan your shot before you shoot them and so sometimes you're gonna come up with an idea for a shot and you just need to find somebody to fill the role of subject and it's not so important they are because you got the right lighting in the background and everything else looks great hey, would you sit here? This would look great if you would do this. A lot of people are very accommodating. If you are quick for portrait siew I often want to do a short telephoto eighty five seventy millimeter hundred millimeter one hundred thirty five millimetre this is where that seventy two, two hundred lens becomes very, very beneficial I'm usually trying to open the lens up as wide as possible on the aperture, shooting anywhere from one point forward f or the best at my lens house and keeping that shutter speed one hundred twenty fifth of a second or faster. You do not want to shoot pictures out in bright sunlight if you can avoid it at all. It's. Just not going to it's going it's going to give you too much contrast. I'll say that very simply, and you want to be very critical about focus. You want to make sure the isar and focus, and if the subject is not directly facing you, you want to make sure that the eye closest to the cameras and focus that's the important one to be in focus.

Class Description

Travel photography is a wonderfully rewarding experience, but travel itself is a whirlwind in the best of situations. The mix of new landscapes, cultures, and logistical challenges can be difficult to navigate. Being an effective travel photographer requires careful planning and shoot preparation, but also the flexibility and openness of mind to take unforgettable photos.

Join pro photographer John Greengo for this class, and you’ll learn:

  • How to research and plan a trip around great photography

  • How to tell what gear you’ll need, and how to travel with it safely

  • Shooting tips and some of John’s favorite locations