I have a confession to make. I really don't like taking photos of people--I really don't like it. What does that mean? That means I occasionally like to go out and take photos of people, just to stretch a little. That doesn't mean I'll ever want to become a portrait photographer (though I never discount any possibilities). The point is, the more photos I take of challenging topics, the better all my photography becomes. I start to see different things in everything I do. It improves everything I do, even if I don't recognize it right away, I know I'm improving.
This is all leading up to something I did this past week. A local casino has a summer concert series. A free summer concert series. Many of the concerts didn't really appeal to me but this last one did. It was Danny Vernon. Danny is one of the top Elvis Impressionists in the world. I was a big Elvis fan back when he was a star.
This one sounded like one I wanted to go to. Originally I hadn't even thought about taking my camera. I discovered there was going to be a car show on the same night and I thought I might want to get some shots of that so I packed up the camera and lugged it, along with lawn chairs, a cooler, the tripod, and my large purse filled with snacks, sun screen, personal fan, water.....you get the idea.
I went with my photo buddy so we could grab our place to sit and go in relays to have dinner at the casino while the other guarded all the gear and kept our good seats. We had planned to do the same while each of us went to take photos of the cars but that didn't work out. First of all, it always takes longer to eat than I think it will and the heat was really more than I can handle well so I wasn't feeling I could walk around in 90 degree full sun taking photos. One of the major problems would have been reflection. These cars were polished to within an inch of their lives and that just wasn't going to work.
OK, I'm digressing all over the place. Back to the concert. As I was sitting there waiting for Larry to get back from dinner I started thinking about what kind of photos I might be able to take if I wasn't going to take car photos. I like listening to "Elvis" but I had no desire to try to get right up in front to get close-up shots of him. I also didn't want to take landscape shots. I like those a little better than photos of people but they need to have an exceptional quality before I consider them worth taking. I tried a couple but gave that up immediately.
All of a sudden there was a woman in front of me who was a fabulous character study. The problem, of course, was that she was in front of me and it's tough to do a character study when you're behind someone. On the other hand, most people stop acting natural if they think you're photographing them--if they don't actually tell you, sometimes in less than polite language, to take a hike. Still, there was the possibility of taking some people pictures and I would be hard-pressed to find more interesting characters than I found here. I don't know if it was Elvis, the free factor, the casino, or some combination of those but there were amazing people and I loved lots of them.
Fortunately, this woman decided to turn around after I already had my camera set up and either she didn't notice the camera at all or she thought I was shooting elsewhere because I was able to get this one.
The more I looked around, the more people I saw who I wanted to capture on film. This guy, for example, looked like a blast from the past, sometime back in the last 60s, early 70s. The problems with this shot were many--the telephoto was set to maximum and the tripod wasn't as firmly set as I needed it to be to not get shake, I didn't get enough of his face, and I didn't get one of the most critical parts of the "character" part of the character study--I didn't get the ponytail!
One of the reasons I don't like people photos is how uncooperative they are at sitting still so I can get the "money shot." (Yet another post I need to write--I'm just full of them today.)
I have to admit, I really had a lot of fun taking these character shots. I'm not going to be able to make the ones I've shared here a part of my portfolio (too wiggly, too much graininess, poor composition--something) but they're so much fun I couldn't resist.
This one of the woman with her dog is a prime example of something that can't be used, no matter what. The fun part of this was that she and her dog had on matching jewelry. It wasn't identical but it was pretty fun. I was never able to get a good shot of both of them and then, a friend of hers came up and said something in her ear. She looked my way and then sat down. That was the end of that. I moved on to someone else.
The upside of candid people shots is the amazing facial expressions I might get. The photo on the right is a prime example. I took about a dozen photos of this woman and they were all fun because her face is so mobile and expressive but this was my favorite! I hope you can see why. The other problem I have with these shots is all the background clutter. I know these were taken at a public even but a portfolio shot can't have that much distraction in it.
Just a couple more. You can see why I can't use them, bad angle, poor composition, wiggle, background clutter, something.
Then on the right there's the woman who came in formal attire. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but the hair just doesn't do it for me. There are several reason for this to lose out--she's faced too much away from me, and her feet aren't in the frame--too bad--it could have been a good one.
Moving back to the right may be my very favorite of the evening. If any of the photos could make it into the portfolio, this would be the one. I love these people! This was at the end of one of the musical numbers so it wasn't even while they were waiting for the show to begin. Aren't they wonderful?
I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.
Lessons I learned? I still don't like taking people photos. Take photos at heavily-attended public events doesn't allow for as many good photos because there is just too much background clutter. Make sure the tripod is well planted before using the telephoto all the way extended.