Tips and Techniques for Photographing Crowds

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When photographing crowds, you can take different approaches and techniques to come up with a wide variety of images. Photographer Layne Kennedy, who illustrates these methods from the site of the Minnesota State Fair, uses a variety of methods to capture great images of crowds.

Photographing crowds opens up all sorts of possibilities when shooting summer photos. Opportunities abound for happy faces, activity frozen in frames, and shots as colorful as you’ll see in any garden. In this session, you’ll join veteran photographer Layne Kennedy as he follows the crowds at the Minnesota State Fair, known in the state and beyond as the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

Capturing the Crowd

Layne starts out photographing the people in the open fairgrounds with a 300mm lens that compresses the crowd and makes it look larger yet more compact, creating more vibrant, more amplified photos.

One of the other techniques he illustrates in the course is to carry a pre-focused wide-angle lens at about waist level and walk through the crowd, against the grain, taking random photos as he meets people and walks toward them. With this method, he gets reactions as they move away from the lens, creating interesting crowd movements, almost a dance, he says, similarly to how people exit the subway or an elevator. Some of the images he gets while photographing crowds are of faces, some of feet, some in between, but they all are indicative of motion, activity, and reaction.

Creating Flow With Multiple Images

Layne also demonstrates a couple of different ways to use multiple exposures to create interesting, eye-catching images, whether to create a blurred sense of flow of the crowd amid the fair attractions or to stop the action and brighten the colors amid the flow. Which way your shot goes depends on the settings you use.

One of the advantages of shooting multiple exposures while photographing crowds is that you can wait for the right moment to get the right shot, as long as the light situation remains the same. Rather than clicking 10 times in succession, your patience can reward you with a carefully framed shot the combines multiple vibrant images for a single impressive image that illustrates the motion of the crowd.

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