The longer you sit behind the lens the more people tend to squirm and usually they’ll do something silly or memorable with their face, arms or legs, possibly even yelling at you to take the picture. I find this is when the photo can be the most interesting.
The image at right was taken of my friend and guide Brian “Bear” Holeman near New Orleans chasing redfish last winter. After an extended bout of staring at my lens he asked if I thought he was a monkey, and like a perfect subject started acting like one. As soon as he started thrusting his push pole up and down is when I started snapping the photos.
Stephen Crowley, a staff photographer for The New York Times talks about trusting your instincts and how to get that killer image via True/Slant. Crowley belongs to the White House Press Corps and has covered many political campaigns. This means most of his subjects are people.
While absorbing how Crowley gets his amazing shots I noticed he talked about a technique I’ve been utilizing for years. He states, “I will compose [the image] first and wait for the moment to happen within the composition.”
This is a great way to capture something other than the cheesy smiling “happy snap” as I like to call them. Frame the image and wait for the action to unfold. Basically you causally annoy someone into a facial expression or animated hand gesture. It’s a great technique when photographing a set up portrait. Especially if the person/people are uncomfortable about being photographed.