Sunday, October 3, 2010

On composition and taking portraits of strangers

I found this man at a hotel where I was staying earlier this week. I thought he would be really interesting to photograph: his pipe, the posture, the way he was sitting seemed like it can make a great story.

So I went up and asked him if I can take a few pictures of him, he was really nice to say yes. Although I am generally satisfied of what came out as a result. There are a few things I wish I have done better.

He is not looking at me

Composition wise I am missing his right hand and I should have shifted the whole frame further down. So I would prefer if I could see what he is holding in his right hand. Same story on the picture below. I am looking at it and wishing I had stepped back and left just one and a half steps.

To be fair I find the last two pictures similar, so if I had to put the whole thing together only one of those would not have made it.

 Now when I am typing this I realize I didn't ask him anything about where he is from, why he is staying in that hotel, what does he do, what is his name... I was so absorbed by the way he looks and trying to capture him that I actually didn't think of asking him all these things. I think I also didn't talk to him too much because I assumed he would prefer not to be disturbed.

 I think have I spoken to him he would have actually looked at the camera and I would have been able to put a bit context into my story.

So there is today's lesson on taking portraits of strangers:
- talk to them: ask them their story, their name, what they do. This will not only put context into the portrait, will help captioning afterwards but will also make your model much more relaxed, which always means better shots.


Иван said...

Yep, good thing to do is to talk to your models. However, I must say, the types of photos you've taken makes me feel better--you've captured a moment, you didn't create one. And this is what most photographers can't do--stay that way, smile at me, keep your mouth shut, tilt your head, put your hand away...

I usually look at the person through my viewfinder and press the button when I like it :-)

Ira said...

Thank you :).
I can't generally direct people. Even when I had to do an assignment for my class I found it really hard to tell people what to do. So either way it is good to learn and feel uncomfortable :).