I’ve seen so many articles done about capturing shots of newborns, kids, soon to be a mother and much more but I’ve never really seen articles about capturing great shots of elderly people or senior citizens. So in this article, I hope to give you an insight on how senior citizens can indeed become interesting subjects and a few tips on what to do to make the most of your shoot session. When conceptualizing to capture shots of an elderly person always try to stray from your usual ideas when shooting kids or a family. Elderly people tend to come from a place of wisdom given all they have experienced in their years from a child to where they are now. As the photographer, it would wise to play on these experiences or try to bring to the surface through your images.
Regardless of your style of shooting it’s best to use natural light when photographing elderly people for a few reasons. Being considerate and respecting the fact that they are elders I would strongly discourage the use of artificial light. Based on experiences it has often distracted the subject or ruin the moment for me to get a one time shot.
If you must use artificial light then chose a constant light source like studio lighting which should be soft and leave a nice touch with the effect of the glowing skin. It’s best to not rush the lighting process as this may be the most important part of your setup in creating high contrast effects. This helps to bring out more detail in the skin and eyes of your subject, yes even those wrinkles. In addition, it can add more drama to your shot creating a very impactful and powerful image.
Personally, photographing an elderly subject in black and white changes the whole ball game in many different ways. This complete option based on your preference or the preference of the subject, however, the effects will be rewarding. Revisiting the first point in regards to lighting, black and white will make the effects even more dramatic and bump up your contrast a bit more to grab the attention of your viewers. Definitely defining those wrinkles and even drawing attention with the eyes also. In addition, black and white will play a role in emphasizing the emotion of the subject without any distraction of color. It selfishly becomes purely about them and not other elements in the frame.
Depending on the physical state of your subject, it’s always fun to still show some youth in their character. Make them feel a bit young again and not so much that they’re only an interesting subject because they’re old. You may even be amazed at what some of these senior citizens can still do if not treated like a fragile baby, you may even learn a few things yourself. May find yourself photographing a retired baseball player or sprinting athlete. There is a kid inside all of us that never dies regardless of your age, bring out their inner child and have some fun while doing it.
There are times where blending old and young faces in the family can be very interesting. Most senior citizens are either grandfathers or grandmothers that tend to pass on a few features onto their grandchildren. If possible, get some family members involved to capture some great candid shots of the different generations of the family interacting with the subject. This also eases some pressure from doing too many staged poses and gives you an opportunity to capture them at a time where they may just be the happiest.
If doing portraits, don’t be scared to get close and fill up your frame. You should get a nice depth of field creating a dreamy look around them. Expressions Become more apparent and obvious, not to mention the fine details of the face. Yes, we are going to use those wrinkles again to our advantage and not try to hide them because those represent years of life experiences, lessons and wise words to share. All the things you want to bring out in your image without saying it. Try to also incorporate hands into your shots as a token to also emphasize experience and any hardship or work endured. All these elements put together to make a great recipe for some power portraits and candid shot that your subject will appreciate.
I do hope these tips have been a great help in assisting you in your next elderly shoot as we may very well be in that position one day with a photographer capturing us in our golden years. Until next time, thank you for reading and all the best on your next project.