Postcards from Faces in a Crowd – Portrait Photography tips

Taking portraits of the characters that I meet on my travels is my favourite kind of photography, landscapes, buildings and food can be fun but every face tells a story.

Attractive woman commemorating Ohi Day on the Saronic Island of Hydra in the Aegean off the coast of Athens on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Commemorating Ohi Day on Hydra, Greece

Capturing that story can be difficult, it usually requires getting up close, trying to build some rapport and trust with the person so that they can be accurately portrayed. False smiles and obviously posed positioning seldom works. Stallholders are good subjects, chat with them awhile and wait for another customer to arrive when they return to their normal business of trading click away.

Polish supporter in the crowd at the Nationa Football Stdium in Warsaw, Poland on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Warsaw Football stadium, the tribal anxiety of football

These group images however are another favourite, attempting to pick out faces that stand out from a crowd, it usually requires a longish focal length lens from a short distance away. A wide angle fixed prime would also work using a large aperture. The other people are needed in the shot but  a shallow depth of field with the focus is on the main subject.

The all male part of the audience at the Muscat Festival, Oman on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

I am the distraction here, Muscat Festival

The people in the immediate vicinity will often also be relatively clear but the as the focus moves away from the central subject that clarity is lost and at the extremes of the image they can be completely indistinct. The adventage of taking from distance is the candid nature of the image will be preserved.

Using this shallow depth of field, focus directly on the eye of the main subject, get that sharp but be careful the aperture is not too large or some focus can even be lost on the central character beyond the focus point. It may require some experimentation to get it right, though often the moments are fleeting so capture the image first, that is of paramount importance.

Girl commemorating Ohi Day on Hydra in the Saronic Islands, Aegean off the coast of Athens on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

What can she see?

Some of the most attractive and captivating images I have seen by other photographers were taken in this manner, some far superior to my efforts. Fantastic moments captured where a single face in the crowd stood out because they leant forward, looking directly into the camera or were framed by the people around them, captured at exactly the right moment.

I never tire of taking pictures of people, attempting to capture their humanity and individuality is important, a series of portraits can also say a great deal about the culture. I hope these images speak a little to you and next time you are out snapping away give it a try yourself, it can be great fun.

Young girl in traditional Omani costume at the Muscat Festival, Oman on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Omani girl at the Muscat Festival

Black woman partying at the Camaguey Carnival on the island of Cuba in the Caribbean on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Camaguey Carnival goer, taking a break from the party


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