Tips for shooting portraits


So often it’s the people you meet on your travels who define a country, place or experience – but shooting people can be really tricky. You see what will make a memorable image; they see a foreigner holding a camera, and immediately stiffen up, shy away or strike a pose – and the moment is lost.

Few people these days will think that you are stealing their soul, but shooting a close-up portrait is certainly a very private and personal thing and should never be done without asking the express permission of people involved. In traditional communities you can break down boundaries very quickly by shooting snapshots of children (or your travelling companions) and then showing them…get a few laughs and before you know it everyone will want their photo taken.

Thankfully the wonderful invention of the delete button means that you can keep shooting those rigid passport-type poses until you manage to get a smile and your subject’s natural character is revealed. If you promise to send copies of images to local people you should always do so: bear in mind that, especially for old people in remote communities, this might be the only photograph they have ever had taken.

For more of Mark’s photography tips for a world of situations, see

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