Lately there’s a new trend in fashion blogs in which they do snapshots of people outfits at the street. You’re taking a walk and suddenly out of the blues one of those bloggers look at you, think that you’re cool dressed and asks you to pose for their pocket camera. You probably never posed in your life and they probably don’t have any idea that photography also demands some direction. So they snapshot you to post you(r outfit) in their blogs. They’re happy because you look cool, and your ego too.
But we’re not talking about that.
A photographer who shoots people needs to know how to direct. Even the most professional model needs direction form us, and if you’re a good director apart from photographer, you can get the perfect expression and posture from anyone. It all depends on the mood you want to get on your final photograph/image. This is not street photography when you steal people’s expressions to make your own story, like I wrote at the street stories. We’re talking about people you want to portray outside with natural light. No matter if the person is a shepherd who never left the mountains, a prostitute or a model. You need to take advantage of the natural light and you need to direct the person you’re shooting. Even if what you want as final image is a portrait of them being themselves. Not acting.
They can smile because they found it funny, they can be serious, they can be the way they want, they can even pose more than a professional poseur. But they are waiting for us to give them instructions. No matter if we know them or not. They will follow us. We’re the ones who will shoot them, so they trust us. And this is very important: to make us trustable. Even if we can cheat them.
One of the ways I have to cheat them is not looking through the viewfinder when I shoot them. First I look at it to check light, composition, etc. And when I’m testing they’re posing. When I finish the tests, I stand up my head and look at them not leaving my finger out from the camera… and the moment they relax looking at us looking at them not through the camera: I shoot. They break the pose and they’re act like they are. But this happens only after I give them guidance and direct them, explaining what I want from them. It all depends on what we want as final photograph.
Shooting people outside is great, but you have to be careful with the light: in certain places the light can be too cold, so better wait for the end of the day. In fact, shooting people outside is always better at the end of the day when the sun is not so high and it’s slightly warmer. You know how warm gold can be the light before sunset… and that light is wonderful to shoot people outside. Also, if you shoot people at noon they tend to close their eyes and the shadows on their face due to the sun makes them harder looking.
Here you have some examples from photographers who shoot ordinary people outside posing to their lenses: Diane Arbus, Ross Bennet Lewis from NY (a must see, whom I mentioned before at the article about art collectors), Gonzalo Bénard, Victoria Sorochinski, an Italian photographer that I also greatly admire: Giancarlo Rado (please, make sure you’ll see the set “Italians” on his stream) and Pieter Hugo, who I talked about at Crossing Borders.
Attitude is what model and photographer needs.
The outsiders too, so the person can outstand from the street or nature by themself.