First discuss with your potential subject what kind of natural activity they would be interested in. The point of having an activity is to preoccupy your subject and if this can be achieved without too much movement or changes in location, so much the better. Try not to get distracted by the demands of showing how the actions are performed- concentrate instead on the person and the facial expression.
I love candid photography, and this is what I aim to achieve in portrait photography. So this exercise was right up my street! I chose to do a photoshoot of my nephew; Tom. His Daddy is a farmer, and so he loves to be around the farm, and act just like his Dad. This seemed like the perfect activity to capture him doing, and so I went around the farm and concentrated on getting photos of him replicating what his Dad does, and catching him unaware. This resulted in a very cute photoshoot with some great candid photos.
Image 1- First off, we took a trip to the cow shed, and Tom introduced me to his favourite cows! During his chatter, I captured this great shot of him looking at something at the other end of the shed. This beautiful candid shot catches Tom unaware of the camera, showing a completely natural shot of him on the farm.
Image 2- Tom opened and closed all the gates for us as we went on our tour around the farm, as this is what his Dad does! I captured this shot of him concentrating hard on opening the gate. This activity distracted Tom whilst I got this lovely candid photo. Complete with his welly boots and barber jacket, he looks like a proper farmer!
Image 3- I quickly ran ahead of Tom and took this shot of him walking down the lane to the farm. Again, the fact that Tom is walking distracts him from being aware of the camera, and helps produce a natural image. Also, I chose a young child as they are most unaware of the camera, and I find that I can capture quality candid photos of kids at this age. When they reach around four, they begin the constant ‘smiling at the camera’, as taught by their parents! I love this shot- and used my standard 18-55mm kit lens as it contains a wide angle focal length to incorporate the lovely farm backgrounds; whilst still having enough of a focal length to zoom in and out- catching the subject’s unaware.
Image 4- Towards the end of the shoot, Tom was beginning to get a little fed up! This funny shot shows his little grumpy face as he begins to get a little bored and cranky! It’s these little moments that parents love to see as it really shows off their kid’s personalities. Again, Tom was walking- so he was preoccupied for long enough to enable me to capture a candid shot.
Below you will find a few more shots staged shots of Tom around the farm, as I tried to get a few shots for his Mum to frame.
This was a great exercise that suited me really well, and highlighted my love for candid photography! It also showed me the benefit of getting a subject to do an activity in order to make it easier to capture them unaware.