Best Photography Tips – Shooting People in a Trek Part 3

This article is in continuation to series on Shooting people on a trek. If you have not read the first part, please have a look here Shooting People on a trek , Shooting People on a trek Part 2

Think different

Most times we just click what we have learnt from others’ pictures and don’t try something with a fresh mind. We take the same kind of pictures over and over again. For example, we see the same pictures of the Taj Mahal again and again, but then, at times, we also see some picture of the same monument from a totally new perspective. We need to be creative and think beyond the obvious. We need to unlearn. This will make our pictures stand out from others. The following picture is an example. Instead of capture the person, I have captured just the hand with the prayer beads but it tells a lot about the personality of the person.


Travel during Festivals

The waves of the western culture have barely left any place on the earth untouched. Hence, it is difficult to find people in their traditional attire nowadays. If you want to capture people in their best costumes, plan your visit during the festivals. You will see people in their best costumes. Places like Ladakh and Bhutan have amazing landscapes but your visit during a festival will definitely add another dimension to your photographic endeavor. One word of caution – try to wear something that complements the situation. Wearing dirty or torn jeans around people wearing their best will make you look out of place! It is also advisable to ask before you click and not use the flash where its probibited. For example, flash photography is not allowed during the mask dances in Bhutan.



Don’t use the flash

Generally, we follow a rule blindly – when it’s dark – use the flash and when there’s light, just switch it off. Well, actually it’s the reverse most of the times. Let me explain. If you are taking portraits in the sun, you will find the picture to have lot of contrast – the dark areas and the bright areas. Take the picture below for example – half the face of the person is dark and the other half is washed out. To create a balance in these situations, try using the fill flash. As the name suggests, a fill-flash will fill-in the darks areas of a picture. If you think that the other areas are getting over-exposed, try reducing the flash power. See what difference it makes to your pictures.



Using the small built-in on-camera flash to shoot portraits in less light is not a good idea. Increase the ISO is a better option. The built-in flash emits hard light and makes the face look flat. The contours of the face are lost. Hence, it’s advisable to put the flash off when shooting portraits to get better pictures.



This picture was taken in during the Rupin pass trek in a room with less light.

Which camera Mode?

Many people think that using the M (Manual mode) will make you a great photographer. This is actually a myth. Most professional portrait photographers use Aperture priority (Av in Canon or A in Nikon) most of the time. Since this mode is semi-automatic, you instruct the camera what you want and leave the rest to its brain to figure out. In this way, you will be able to concentrate more on the artistic aspects of the picture like composition and will never miss the moment. I have learnt this from my experience. I have missed several shots because of using Manual and was too concerned about the settings.


This picture was taken at a decisive moment as I was the next one. There was less time to think and probably your brain won’t work well in a stressing situation like this 

Keep your promise 

I’m sure you must have faced a situation where you take a picture and the person wants them printed. Do not promise to send them the pictures if you cannot. And if you have promised, please keep your promise. If you do not, they might develop a negative attitude for all the photographers to visit the place after you. I have faced this situation several times where people are not very enthusiastic about taking their pictures because someone took their picture but never sent them back despite promising. Let’s try to make shooting easier for all of us.

To be continued…



Thank you for reading the post. You might like to read my previous posts.

This article is written by Saurabh Chatterjee. He is a professional photographer and a photography trainer. He strives to ‘make every camera-owner a great photographer’ through his photo tours and Photography workshops.

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