People Photography: Capturing Lifestyle for Art & Stock

Book review. Taking photos of people offers endless variety. Whether it's baby and kid photos, headshots of an aspiring actor, workers going about their work, or a family celebrating a special occasion, every photo has its own challenges and opportunities. This book aims to help.

Published in 2009 by Lark Books. 160 pages. The author, Nancy Brown, is a commercial and stock photographer based in Florida and a former model.

Taking photos of people offers endless variety. Whether it’s baby and kid photos, school sports photos, posed head shots of an aspiring actor, an environmental portrait of workers going about their work, or a family wanting a memento of a special occasion, every photo has its own challenges and opportunities. It can also be intimidating trying to get the results you want. This book by Nancy Brown, a commercial and stock photographer based in Florida, aims to help. Ms. Brown has added expertise from the other side of the camera too–she’s a former model.

The book starts with the usual photography fundamentals of your camera gear and lighting. Chapter 3 moves on to working with people, establishing rapport, and making a connection with your subjects. Chapter 4 focuses on finding a personal style. Chapter 5 covers the logistics of setting up a shoot, scheduling, and managing your equipment for the shoot. Chapter 6 deals with stock and commercial photography, including considering elements like market and accessibility. The final chapter presents an overview of the business of people photography, including setting prices, factoring in expenses, and legal matters like copyright and model releases.

There are aspects of my style–like light, for example–that I use to define my own style. People are always telling me, ‘Oh, you like clean photos.’ Yes, I do. ‘And you seem to use a lot of white and lightness.’ Yes, I do. If I can choose between shooting something light and shooting something dark, I go light.

As she points out herself, the author’s photographic style is for a very clean, stock-friendly look. And there are many great examples of this throughout the book, ranging from baby photos to seniors on the beach.

Who’s It Good For?

Overall, this book is ideally suited to those wanting to get into people photography to sell as stock images.

If you’re more interested in environmental and travel photography, one book I recommend taking a look at is Rick Sammon’s Face to Face: Complete Guide to Photographing People. And there are many good books on working with models, from posing to nudes to lighting to events to kids and families, that provide more in-depth and specialist knowledge on them.

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