Best Photography Tips – Shooting People in a Trek

Shooting People on a Trek

Capturing people in the hills can be one of the most interesting subjects that can make your pictures memorable.Though you will always find less people during a trek, the ones you find can make absolutely amazing pictures.

Here are some tips that will help you take better people pictures –

Tell a Story

A picture speaks a thousand words. A story-telling picture is one which conveys emotions or mood or tells a story. Most people (including me) just take tight portraits. Some other people don’t just capture the face but the whole environment and tell a story. If you see the works of Raghu Rai, you will find the strong messages that his pictures convey.For story telling pictures, make sure you have enough of the background at a good depth to convey your message.

In this picture, shot at Kedarkanta base camp, the shepherd had just cut the wool fromsheep. He is making them into threads. He will later give it to a shop in the nearest town to make a coat out of it (like the one he is wearing).

He lives in the open where night temperatures often reaches sub-zero. This is all what he has – some water, a blanket, a pressure cooker. His dinner is being prepared. You can  see the pressure cooker going psssssssssst……



Establish a Comfort Leveland Ask for Permission


People in the hills do not have much contact with the outside world. Hence, they can be shy in front of the camera. At times, they might also get offended when taking pictures, especially of women. It is always advisable to break the ice by engaging your subject in a conversation before taking a picture. This will make them comfortable and will help you to capture a great expression. Even better if you can learn how they say – ‘Can I take your picture please?’ in their native language. It really does wonders.

This picture has been taken in a small village on the way to Rupin pass. By talking to her and making her at ease, I was able to get the good expression on her face.



Aim at the Eye




When you are shooting tight portraits, make sure your camera is focusing at the right place – the eyes. If the eyes of your subject are lacking critical focus, the picture will not look quite impressive. If you are shooting from close, you will find that the camera focuses on the nose most of the times. To overcome this problem, try the technique of locking the focus on the eyes and then recomposing your frame. To lock the focus on the eyes, keep them in the middle of the frame, press the shutter halfway and recompose the picture. When you are using this technique, make sure you change the angle but not the distance. Doing so might render your main focusing spot to be out of focus. You can also choose a manual focal selection point on your camera.

Shot en route to Valley of Flowers this Sikh had wonderful eyes.



Use Fill Flash


When shooting people in harsh sunlight, there are times when we get faces with dark areas and bright areas which can spoil the picture as in the case below. One good technique to get rid of this is to use ‘fill flash’. As the name suggests, it fills the dark areas of the frame where there is less light, typically on sunny days. Using a fill flash has another advantage – it removes the shadows cast by facial features like nose, chin, etc. Most dSLRs have an option of increasing or decreasing the flash output by ½ stops. Adjusting this will enable you to get just the right amount of light that is required.

This picture has been taken in harsh sunlight without a fill flash. You can clearly see the dark and the light areas which spoils the beauty of the picture.


Know Your Camera Well

The purpose of photography is to capture the essence of the situation. Most of the time, those magic momentscomes and goes in a jiffy.To make sure that you don’t miss that critical moment, you should be very well aware of all the controls in your camera. When required, you should be able to change them fast. It comes with practice of using the controls frequently. You don’t search for the breaks of a car when you need to apply it, right? J


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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