The objects needed to frame your subject must be
associated with the person. You would not want to frame
a Seabee with the wings of an airplane (unless of course
a runway is being constructed). The Seabee would be
better framed by the arch of a new building being
constructed, or the hood and engine of a dump truck.
The frame should add emphasis and lead the viewer to
the subject. Do not make the frame the subject. The
frame does not always have to be in focus or box the
subject. Study pictures of people that have been framed
Sometimes the frame is only on one side of the subject,
sometimes in back of the subject, and sometimes only
in the foreground. Seldom does the frame completely
box the subject.
When you read an article about someone, it may be
accompanied by a picture of the person who is often at
work A picture of someone at work says more to a
viewer than an ordinary head-and-shoulders
identification ever can, because it immediately places
the person in a particular setting.
The secret to making good working pictures is to
capture the atmosphere of the place and show the
subject actually working. The use of a wide-angle lens
lets you show a large work area from close in. This
conveys a better idea of the working conditions. Try to
bring out the atmosphere of the worker and the
workplace; for example, if your subject does hard
manual labor, try a low camera angle to create an
impression of power. Although it is usually better to
photograph a worker as though he were unaware of your
presence, this is not always possible. Warn people when
you are going to use the flash, so you do not startle them.
When shooting at a slow shutter speed, you can even ask
the worker to hold a pose.
Most people who are working are involved with
something that can provide a prop: books, scale models,
equipment, and so forth. Use these props to create a
stage and put the people into it-really into it.
So far, the discussion has been based on shooting
pictures of only one person. Another assignment facing
the photographer is handling the two-shot, a picture
showing two people.
People can be pretty awkward when told to "just be
natural" or "just talk to each other." It is better to give
them something to talk about. Have them talk about
what they are doing. Tell them you are listening to what
they say so you can have information with which to
write your captions. Better yet, give them something
they can actually handle, talk about, and concentrate on.
This makes the situation more realistic to them, and it
results in better quality pictures.
Try the frame approach for your two-shots. It is very
effective. Even people can be used to frame other people.
One of the most difficult tasks in photographing
people is directing them. But you, the photographer, are
the only one that can actually see what the picture is
going to look like before it is taken. So, you must take
the responsibility for setting up the pose. It is not
enough to let your subjects just arrange themselves.
They have no idea what they look like.
One way to make directing and posing easier is to
give your subject something to do. Do not tell your
subject to "just stand there," as though in a vacuum, with
nothing to do. Instead, give your subject something to
handle. For a man, it might be a pipe, a book, a spyglass,
or a tool they use in their work. For a child, it could be
a doll, a model plane, or something of a similar nature.
Often a woman can use an item of clothing in this way-a
hat or a scarf.
Another useful tip is to give your subject a prop
or a support in a more literal sense-something to lean
on or sit on. A chair, stool, post, or tree can be used.
When using props, frames, and poses, do not forget one
important point: The Navy uses photographers so its
pictures are made by professionals. These are people
who know what they are photographing and the reason
why. A civilian photographer could most probably make
an excellent picture of a Navy scene; however, it
probably will show technical errors that make the
picture look like a joke to other sailors. Do a little
research. If using props that you do not understand, ask
about them. Do not have a sailor hauling on a line that
should be taken to a capstan or a Gunner's Mate holding
a 3-inch shell in front of a 5-inch gun.
Eyes are very important when photographing
people. You must direct the subject to ensure that all
parts of the scene are in the right place or in proper
perspective. You must also direct the expression of the
subject. The eyes are a very vital part of this and have a
significant effect on the viewer's response. In a picture
where the eyes of the subject are looking straight into
the camera, a strong and immediate impact is created.
This attracts viewer interest. When the eyes are directed
away from the camera, the effect is less explicit and has
a more ambiguous quality.
Finally, you must be in charge of the situation. It is
up to you to tell the subjects where to stand, what to do,
how to do it, and when to do it. This applies to everyone.