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Th­ese ar­ti­cles are de­signed to help you ap­pre­ci­ate how pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­phers ap­proach as­sign­ments and the tech­niques they use, in­clud­ing some helpful tricks of the trade. In this is­sue, ed­i­tor Paul Bur­rows pro­vides some tips about pho­tograph­ing peo­ple when you’re trav­el­ling in a for­eign coun­try.

The Pic­ture

As Cuba starts to wel­come more tourists from over­seas, Havana’s mag­nif­i­cently re­stored Old Town Cen­tre is a very pop­u­lar place. En­ter­pris­ing lo­cals – in­clud­ing this trio – are mak­ing the most of in­creased vis­i­tor num­bers, pro­vid­ing lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties to cap­ture the lo­cal colour. This im­age is for a fu­ture ar­ti­cle on the cour­te­sies of pho­tograph­ing peo­ple when you’re trav­el­ling in for­eign coun­tries.

The Pho­tog­ra­pher

Cam­era ed­i­tor Paul Bur­rows was in Havana to par­tic­i­pate in the judg­ing of the 2017 TIPA Awards and stayed on af­ter­wards to make the most of a city which is destined to change, but right now is a pho­tog­ra­pher’s par­adise.

The Equip­ment

Pana­sonic Lu­mix GX8 mir­ror­less cam­era fit­ted with an Olym­pus M.Zuiko Dig­i­tal ED 12-40mm f2.8 PRO zoom lens, hand-held.

The Tech­nique

It’s of­ten tempt­ing to shoot peo­ple can­didly, but this makes for images that are mostly im­per­sonal. Eye con­tact re­ally helps view­ers be­come in­volved in the im­age, so it’s best to be up front about your in­ten­tions. Th­ese ladies were ac­tu­ally on a break from parad­ing around a big square, but the coloured back­ground was too good to pass up… so a few ges­tures (and a few coins) later, they hap­pily posed.

How It Was Done

Speed is of the essence in th­ese sit­u­a­tions, but you still need to take time to com­pose, frame and fo­cus. Start­ing wide and zoom­ing gives a few fram­ing op­tions for later on (and avoids crop­ping the im­age), but also re­mem­ber to try a ver­ti­cal fram­ing too.

Tricks Of The Trade

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is the key to suc­cess­ful peo­ple pho­tog­ra­phy (and por­trai­ture) so, if even you

don’t speak the lan­guage, make some con­nec­tion with your sub­jects. Don’t try to or­ches­trate too much, but a lit­tle pos­ing is ac­cept­able if it’s ap­pro­pri­ate and adds to the im­age. In this case, there was just one frame where ev­ery­thing looked just right. Al­ways re­mem­ber to thank your sub­jects and, in many coun­tries, this means hand­ing over a few coins. And don’t for­get to show them a cou­ple of the images… just so they can see what you’ve been do­ing. Oh, and by the way, if some­body re­ally doesn’t want you to take a pho­to­graph, then don’t.

De­gree Of Dif­fi­culty (Out of 10)

There’s al­ways an el­e­ment of good for­tune in travel pho­tog­ra­phy and you can just hap­pen to be in the right place at the right time. The chal­lenge is to make the most of th­ese sit­u­a­tions, be­cause things will soon change. Ev­ery­thing comes to­gether here to score a solid nine.

Can You Try This At Home?

If you’re feel­ing shy about pho­tograph­ing peo­ple then start with fam­ily and friends so you can work on your com­mu­ni­ca­tions and also start to un­der­stand how ex­pres­sions and poses can look in the im­age. The more you ex­per­i­ment with pho­tograph­ing peo­ple, the bet­ter you’ll get… and if you’re re­laxed and com­fort­able, then your sub­jects will be too.

Pho­to­graph by Paul Bur­rows, copy­right 2017.

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