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People

Pictures of people should say something.


Posed pictures should show people at their best, looking relaxed and comfortable in their relationship.
Posed pictures should show people at their best, looking relaxed and comfortable in their relationship.

We love to see ourselves in pictures. Probably more than 90% of the photographs in the average photo album are people pictures, not just images that have people in them, but photos where the actual subject is one or more persons.

Sure, pictures of pets can be appealing, superb landscapes can take our breath away and undersea images can capture our imagination, but people pictures are in a class of their own.

PICTURES OF PEOPLE SHOULD SAY SOMETHING

This section of photographytips.com contains tons of information on taking people pictures, from improving the family snapshot to making a formal portrait. In every case, good people pictures convey a message. The message can fall into one of several categories. Your picture can, for instance, tell a story, show relationships or provide inspiration. Without a message, a photograph lacks interest. It says nothing, and therefore it gives nothing to the viewer.


In most cases, conveying a message is not that difficult. You simply have to think before you click the shutter. Ask yourself what you want your picture to say. Once you have defined it, you are then able to figure out how best to capture it on film. Occasionally, you will see it before you in a candid shot, as with the picture on the right of this family, and will have to capture it quickly before it is interrupted.

Even the most common of pictures - a child’s school or sports participation picture, for instance - should have a message.

A candid picture can capture relationships, such as this family's obvious comfort with one another, differently than one that is posed.
A candid picture can capture relationships, such as this family's obvious comfort with one another, differently than one that is posed.

Minimal effort by the photographer went into this school picture.
Minimal effort by the photographer went into this school picture. "Look at the lens" and 'click' is about all it took.

When taking school pictures, some photographers simply pose the child in front of the camera and take a picture - sort of like an assembly line. Others take the time, albeit brief, to interact with the child and evoke a pleasant aspect of his or her character that will be revealed in the picture.

There is a world of difference in the resulting images.

The good photographer’s message is clear in the picture: “Here is a person with a personality. Isn’t he or she interesting, and doesn’t this child look her or his best?”


Thinking about a picture’s message before taking it should become second nature to you once you consciously decide that your pictures will all have a message.

Your people photography will improve right off the bat, and over time, you will come up with better and better ways to make your images of those around you more attractive and interesting.

This is a picture to be proud of.
This is a picture to be proud of.

Proper framing is important. The photographer should have aimed the camera slightly to the left.
Proper framing is important. The photographer should have aimed the camera slightly to the left.

We hope the hints and tips in this section will point you in the right direction to make great people pictures that you will be proud to show and that each contains a message placed there by you.

We also encourage you to visit the other sections of our web site, such as Composition, where you will learn, among other things, how to avoid common mistakes, like cutting off peoples' heads when taking their pictures.


Further information...

Children

Family pictures

Portrait photography

Photographing girls

Posing

Make-up

Wedding photography tips

Nudes
Related topics...

Tips on looking your best in pictures