|| Pictures of People
Photos of people retain their value, long after pictures of grand vistas have
been tossed away.. But "People Pictures" of bikers are technically
tough. Your subject often has a helmet shading the face, may be wearing dark
glasses, and is usually moving. These photos take a little planning, and usually
require a strobe.
In general, you should shoot "people pictures" (and animal
pictures) at eye-level. The exception is when your "story" requires an
odd camera angle, for example, "my kid climbed up this tree" or
"my dog is cowering under the front tire."
Close-ups of faces are best with a long focal length lens (a bit of
telephoto). When you get close to a face with a wide-angle camera, it distorts
the face so the nose and lips look huge. (Most disposable cameras are 32-36 mm,
which definitely creates a fisheye effect when you're close up.) Zoom your
lens out to 50-60 mm to take pictures of people.
Even though a photo may be a "people picture," you should still try
to establish a location, and tell a story with your photograph.
||This is an "I did this" photo. You can recognize
the biker riding the trail, while Mount Timpanogos documents the location.
The foreground oak tunnel helps your eye zoom in on the biker. But even
using a flash, the face has heavy shadow.
Mentally remove the oak trees from this photo. Now it
seems more like a photo of Timpanogos (instead of a picture of somebody
biking), doesn't it?
||Rest stops are a good place for "people pictures."
Look for a photo angle that shows the surroundings, and capture the sense
of adventure. Here we have a contrast between the warm rock of the Moab
Rim, and the snow-covered La Sal Mountains in the background. Because of
the direction of the sun, I overexposed 1-1/2 f-stop to bring out Mike's
Without the background elements, this
photo is just "a guy sitting on a rock."
||This is the classic posed "I was there" photo. The
biker poses with the trusty steed, while the background documents the
location. Here again, I overexposed by one f-stop to bring out a face
that's hidden in the shadow of the helmet, and added flash.
This is the easiest type of photo to take. I took this photo a bit
above eye level, so I could put the Provo River behind Jessica.
||Getting closer to the subject, it becomes harder to still
provide a "story" and give a sense of location. Here you see
biker (Dominic), dog, pine tree, trail, and meadow. The trail is wet. This
is the story of hiding from a summer rainstorm on Mill Creek's Great
When shooting a person in the shade, use your strobe for fill-flash. If
I hadn't used the flash, this photo would be a silhouette, not a portrait.
While shooting this picture, I was actually lying on the ground so I could
get the meadow into the background.
||Unless your objective is to shoot a passport picture, even a
close-up should tell a story.
Pine trees in the background, open biking shirt, sweat everywhere -- it
doesn't take long to figure out that this is a break on the trail. Notice
what the addition of the dog does to this picture. It's a "biking
buddies" photo. Without the dog, this picture wouldn't have much
A second biker, a sandwich or Powerbar, or a water bottle can provide a
prop (substituting for the dog) that tells a story and gives meaning to a
Remember to zoom your lens out to a longer focal length when shooting
people's faces. It gives a much more flattering perspective. Soften shadows by
using your strobe.
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All photos and text on this website are
copyrighted works of Bruce Argyle.
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