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Do You Shy Away From Photographing People?

Updated on May 28, 2020
Photography Focus profile image

I am passionate about photography and love to teach what I've learned during my 30+ years of working as a professional photographer.

Overcoming shyness can be as challenging for the photographer as it is for the subject. It’s not uncommon for photographers to be introverted and not like being photographed.


Being a shy photographer can help you become a better people photographer. You understand how uncomfortable being in front of a camera is. So, as an introverted artist, you can learn to use this feeling to help you improve your photography.


In this article, I’ll share with you some portrait photography tips and techniques. These are tips for shy photographers. They are not so much about what settings you should use for portrait photography. This is about the most important thing shy photographers must learn. Communication.

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How Do You Photograph People?

You photograph people with a camera. Yes, that’s the obvious part. You need to choose what lens to use and what settings you’ll use. These are the easy aspects of people photography.


Photographing people is as much about communicating with them as it is about lenses and camera settings. No matter how good your gear is and how well you manage it, you must connect with your subject.


Build a rapport with them and this will help you take more flattering pictures of others. When someone is uncomfortable in front of your camera, this shows in their face. A person who is always uptight when having their photo taken will not like the results. That tension is obvious and unattractive in the photograph.


Shy photographers can make the best portraits. You understand how to use your shyness empathetically. Because you know how it feels when you are having your photo taken. Use this experience to encourage your subjects to relax. Show them how to enjoy the process of having their picture taken. They will relax and you’ll get much nicer portraits because of this.


“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” – Edward Steichen

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How do people take flattering pictures of others?

This is a question that I used to wonder about. As a young man, I was painfully shy. I could not photograph people, even people I knew. I did not want to impost.


I loved looking at portraits and marveled at the skills of the photographers who could make them. I had no idea of the techniques they used to produce such engaging portraits. People photographers seemed to posses some unknown power. I wanted that!


Now, when people ask what type of photography I enjoy the most, I tell them ‘people photography’. I have learned to overcome shyness. This was the most challenging thing to learn as a shy photographer.


Taking flattering photos of people has more to do with how you relate to them than many photographers are aware of. As an introverted artist, you must connect with the people you want to photograph. Then you will make more flattering portraits of them.

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How do you master portrait photography?

Photographers often pay a lot of attention to upgrading their gear. They think this will help them take better photos. Some also study portrait photography tips and techniques to learn how to make better pictures of people. They focus mainly on the camera settings and lighting.


These aspects of photography are certainly important. You cannot make a good portrait if you don’t know how to use your camera well. The more confident you are using your camera, the better pictures you can take.


Being confident using your camera helps you to be a better people photographer not only because you can choose the best settings. Knowing your gear well allows you to concentrate less on your camera and more on your subject.


When you come to photograph a person and you’re looking down fiddling with your camera, you will not connect with them meaningfully. Set your camera first. Know that your photos will be in focus and well exposed, and then communicate with your subject. Set up your gear before you begin to converse with your subject.


Giving more of your attention to the person you are photographing is one of the best things you can do. This will help you take more flattering portraits of them.


Show an interest in them. Let them know that you want to make them look good in your pictures. When you are confident they are likely to reflect this back to you. A photo of a person looking confident is more flattering that one of them looking uncomfortable.

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How do you practice portrait photography?

You can practice portrait photography. The main two aspects you need to concentrate on are your camera settings and your people skills.


Picking the right person to practice with is important. You need to ask someone who enjoys being photographed and who is patient.


Explain to them what you are planning. You need to learn to photograph people and the best way to do this is to practice with by photographing the same person. Photographing someone once will only get you so far. Working with them on many occasions will help you develop your skills.


You will both grow during this experience.


Arrange to meet for a portrait photography session. Make sure you get to the location before they arrive if you can. This will allow you to find interesting backgrounds and set your camera and lens. Once it’s set, put it away. Doing this you’ll be able to give your subject full attention when they arrive.


Engage with the person. Chat with them even before you take your camera from its bag. Ask them questions about themselves. If they feel a bit nervous this conversation will help them to relax. Take your time and don’t rush things.


Communicate clearly once you start taking photos. Know what you want. Observe them and how they look. If you have no ideas, don’t start until you do. The more confidence you show as you are making the photos, the more confident your subject is. They will reflect this back to you and it will be obvious in the photos you are taking.


Your subject is more likely to let you photograph them again when they feel confident and see the results. This will give you further opportunities to improve your photography.

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Shy Photographers Need to Take Time to Practice

Don’t worry if you don’t make awesome portraits the first time. Like anything difficult, you need to practice before you can do it well. It has taken me years to learn how to love taking photos of people. Even now sometimes I still struggle being shy when I want to photograph someone.


Know your camera well. This allows you to make a better connection with the people you will photograph. Concentrate on building a rapport in the moment. Even when you know the person well, this is still important to do.

Are you a shy photogapher?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Photography Focus

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