Capture a cultural portrait

EXPLORING A new place always turns up interesting characters, giving you the potential to bag some amazing portraits. This is especially true if you're heading to countries such as India or Morocco, where the culture and way of life are very different to the UK. Look for faces with lots of personality and people wearing bright, traditional clothing. This will give your images that National Geographic feel, and a distinctly different style to the portraits you've shot before.

Above Get close up for a strong connection with your subject

Shoot candids
One approach to travel portraiture is to shoot candids, so that the subject has no idea they're being photographed. The most common method is to hold your camera between your hip and your chest so that no one notices you taking shots. This will allow you to capture natural expressions and document people as they go about their daily life. This approach can be tricky as you're more-or-less shooting blind, though if you have a camera with a flip-out screen, angle this upwards to help you with composition.
 Focusing is tough too, so it's best to use auto-area AF, where all points are active and the camera focuses on the object nearest the camera. Some cameras also have face-detect AF, which can help. Working in aperture-priority mode, shoot at f/8 so the depth-of-field isn't too shallow, and raise the ISO for a shutter speed of at least 1/500sec. You won't be able to tweak settings as you shoot, so these are a good start point.
 While the 'shoot-from-the-hip' method will enable you to get up close and personal with your subject, your hit-rate will be quite low, and you won't always get the composition you want. For this reason you might prefer to use a longer lens and shoot from a distance. You'll still be working under the radar, but you'll have more opportunity to think your shot through. Ideally, use a lens with an equivalent focal length of at least 150mm, and use your widest aperture setting to blur the background.
 According to photojournalist Robert Capa, “If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough”. With this in mind, why not approach your subject for a more intimate close up. This can be daunting, especially if you don't speak the language, but most people will be very happy to pose for you. Working in aperture-priority mode, use a wide aperture to blur the background, and select single-point AF to focus on the nearest eye.

These two colours go together extremely well. Combine the orange of your subject's skin with a teal backdrop and/ or clothing.

Above Emotion helps produce more eye-catching results

Expert advice Use backlight for atmospheric results
You won't have much time to pose your subject, but a few small adjustments to their position can make a huge difference.
 The two most important things to think about are background and lighting. Look around you to see if you can see a clean, colourful backdrop, such as a colourful plastered wall, and change your angle so that it is located behind the subject. You can also ask them to move slightly if necessary.
 Next, ensure there's no harsh sunlight on the subject's face, as this almost always causes squinting, exposure issues, and hard shadows under the eyes and nose. If you're in direct sun, move to an area of shade, such as under a tree, or if there isn't one available, ensure the sun is striking the back of the subject.
 If you're working at the start or end of the day, you can use a low sun to backlight your subject. This will ensure there are no extreme shadows or highlights at all on the face, and with any luck create a golden hair light with a small amount of lens flare.


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