5 tips for taking great photos of people and local cultures

You don't want to come off as rude and offensive or be thrown out.

You don't want to come off as rude and offensive or be thrown out. Here are five practical tips for getting great photos of people and local cultures.

1. Engage in direct communication

Most times people you would be photographing are not capable of speaking your language, or you theirs, so try a non-verbal communication of looking at them, and they can either nod ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and they know exactly what you are asking.

There are two distinct ways to photograph people: the candid image and portraiture. If it’s a portrait photo, you need to have eye contact with the person being photographed.

Make it clear that you are trying to take a picture and do not be sneaky.

2. Be respectful

Don't try to sneak around and take shots. There are many people in the village, on the street, and in their homes, if one doesn't want to be photographed, try the next person down the road.

If you’re going to photograph people, don’t be in their face.  Always stay at a respectful distance. Using a lens that's around a 70- 200mm works. That way you can get a nice intimate portrait, but still remain four or five feet away.

3.Work together

Once people are committed, they usually follow your ideas. So work with them, don't just order them around especially when on a cultural shoot. It's about getting permission, being respectful and arranging the photo with the setting and lighting that you want.

4. Please don't use a flash

Never use flash. Flash is very obtrusive to people, especially people you do not know. You can use a bounce flash, but with a cultural photo, you don't need it.

Use natural light, reflected light, candlelight, lantern light, firelight, as they commensurate with shooting traditional cultures.

5. Look for personalities

You don't want someone looking like they just came out of a movie. Look for somebody who has something unique about them. It can be eye colour, markings or traditional paintings.

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