How to Take Portrait Photos for Old People

Old people seem to project a different effect on photographs compared to portraits of younger people.

Their appearances are just beaming with details and characters, the lines on their faces convey a sense of mystery and countless untold interesting stories.

Portraits of old people surely can’t be dismissed and what better way to document many decades of living than capturing their faces on camera. However, doing so does not sound that easy and to rightfully honor the older generation here are some tips on how to photograph old people.

Posed and Candid Shots

The good part of photographing old people is tapping into their personality. The ideal way is to photograph them through candid shots. Candid images are always more natural-looking and time and again more dramatic. However, as part of the older generation, they have been photographed many times in the past that they tend to pose and project an animated gesture or facial expression. Unlike younger people who tend to be shy when they see a camera, older people comes with an aura of confidence.

portrait photos
Photo by Mark Booker

If your subject is somewhat shy, just engage them in a friendly conversation, ask them about their memorable experiences from childhood to adulthood. Chances are you will help them recall a happy part of their life and their faces will brighten up with a sincere smile. While they are talking to you, take a few shots to photograph their fascinating expressions.

Include Family Members

Photographing both the old and the young provides an interesting contrast in a picture. If your subject has grandchildren, ask if you can include them to pose for the camera. Another option is to let them do an activity together to open up opportunities for loads of candid moments. It will be a great gesture also if after your photo session with an old subject you offer to take another photo of them with their family members for a multi-generational portrait which you could print and give them for their photo album.

Photograph Them in Action

Old people nowadays are still active and do a lot of activities. Going to a nearby park will provide you interesting scenes of old people doing exercises and walking. Keep an open eye on their activities and you will surely be rewarded with some awesome street photography of old people in action. You can also check out some senior club’s activities like yoga, ballroom dancing and senior sport leagues to catch some energetic senior citizens in action. Capturing old people in action presents a new layer of interest among the viewers and projects them as lively and full of life individuals who are living their life to the fullest, notwithstanding their old age.

Use Natural Light

Portrait photography always looks best without the use of flash. Same thing with taking portraits of old people. The light from the flash diminishes the character and lines in the facial features of your subject. So learn to play around with the existing light to create drama and shadows within the faces of your subjects.

Fill the Whole Frame

Filling the whole frame is also a great way to take portraits. By coming up close and personal, you can shoot the finer details of your subject like the wrinkles on their faces, the facial expressions, and the sparkle in their eyes, the ruggedness of hands and the deepness and wisdom they conveyed. You can use a soft focus filter to help attain a harsher detail on their facial features.

Shoot In Black and White and in Color

Portrait photography produces simpler drama, timelessness and flair in black and white (which you can also switch into during post processing) while shooting in color adds more mood and emotions. Experiment by shooting in color and changing it to black and white during post processing, see what images are better in color or in black and white. Let your imaginations play with what type of image presents your portrait to stand out more.

Add Image Effects

If you are doing post processing on Photoshop Elements or Adobe, you can try some of the built in features such as old classic vintage, nostalgic retro or sepia tone to add dimension. The purpose of adding these effects is to inject a sense of history that your subject originates from in the first place. Experiment with the different filters and adjustments until you achieve the appearance and impression that best compliments your subject’s look and the mood of the photograph.

There you go some basic tips on how to photograph old people. Think outside the box and communicate well with them in order for them to open up more and feel at ease posing in front of your camera.

About Kristine Buenavista

Tin oftentimes takes her folding bike and old camera along country roads. Sometimes, she forgets to take pictures (though she never forgets when she finds great photos elsewhere). She narrates through words and images here. Travel, creativity, laughter, cerveza negra, scavenge hunt for beauty, starry-windy nights are among the things that make her feel weightless.

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