Readers Photo Challenge: People persons

People. People who need people
Are the luckiest people
In the world!” – “People” by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill

Photographing people is a staple of what photo journalists do. For some it comes naturally. They have an easy way about them which helps them not only feel at ease with other people but makes those people feel at ease with them as well.

For others, and I count myself among them, it’s a harder task to overcome their shyness to talk with strangers let alone ask them to take their photos. But with practice and a little gumption one can train oneself to be able to approach people with confidence.

This month’s challenge assignment of “people” was perhaps a daunting one for many readers, but 15 of them were up to the task.

Some chose to take pictures family or friends. Other brave souls chose to photograph complete strangers. Some traveled far and wide for their shots while others stayed closer to home. A total of 65 images were sent in. Here are some of the top examples.


Mitch Bazzarre of Stockton and his girlfriend Veronica Eang took a trip up to Pinecrest Lake in Tuolumne County to shoot the sunset. The sunset fizzled out but as it dipped below the tree line, the light around them became soft and diffuse, much like from a studio light soft box. Bazzarre took advantage of the great light and used Eang as his model. With a Canon EOS 6D DSLR camera he used the light to captured the smoothness of her skin and highlights in her hair. The inclusion of the kayaks and canoes floating on the lake and hills slightly out of focus in the background gives the picture a sense of place. Bazzarre may not have gotten what he went up there for, he still came back with a prize of a photo.


Sometimes you have a great scene and just need a human presence to complete it. While vacation at the Velas Vellarta resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Rick Wilmot of Lodi came across a souvenir stand filled with colorful wares. With his Canon EOS 5D Mk III DSLR camera Wilmot could have easily just take pictures of the stand but the inclusion of owner Nicolas Batista and his daughter Juliana, who make all the mementos by hand, adds context and a human element to the photos as well.


There are times you have a great overall scene and just need something to add a point of interest to it. While on a vacation stop in Interlaken, Switzerland, Steve Rapaport of Stockton used a Canon 70D DSLR camera to photograph tandem paragliders in Interlaken, Switzerland. They soared through a clear blue air with the snow covered Bernese Alps jutting into the sky in the background. The mountains are beautiful but the inclusion of the people on their parasail makes the photo more interesting.


Mike Ratekin of French Camp combine a little old school and new school in taking a photo of his 2-year-old granddaughter Deliah Gonzalez. He used a used a Canon EOS Rebel T5i DSLR which is modern enough but, with an adapter, he equipped the digital camera with a vintage Pentax 135mm f2.5 Takumar lens originally designed for a film camera. He bought the lens for $45 and got the adapter online from Chine for $10. It’s strictly manual in operation; no auto focus or auto aperture. Even without the modern conveniences, Ratekin did a great job. He captured his granddaughter’s innocence and wonder as she smelled the aroma of a wildflower in his yard bathed in the golden hour light just after sunset.


Sydney Spurgeon of Stockton was asked by the mother of 2 acquaintances, 17-year-old twin sisters Taylor and Gianna Thomas, to take a portrait of them. With her Nikon D500 DSLR camera she spent time with the twins to get them to be more comfortable with her, especially Gianna who was very shy but with a little patience, she warmed up to Spurgeon. The resulting photo is a picture of sisterly love.


Tom LaBounty of Stockton used a technique that all photographers should learn how to do. When faced with a bright background you expose for it, leaving the subject in the dark, or expose for your subject, thus overexposing the background. One way to reconcile the 2 exposures is to use a fill-flash technique, which means using your flash during the daytime to fill-in the shadows.

LaBounty used fill-flash with his Fuji X-Ts mirrorless digital camera to photograph his daughter, Kristen LaBounty, at Bullards Beach, Oregon. The technique allowed him to capture his daughter’s smile as well as the brighter dramatic clouds on the horizon.


Carrie Walker of Stockton used an Apple iPad to photograph her 1-month-old nephew Aiden Bush of Nashville, Tennessee visiting her family in Stockton. Lit with a simple LED lamp in her mother’s living room, Walker captured what every parent knows: let sleeping babies lie.


Sometimes pictures of people is about photographing the essence of a moment in time. Dave Skinner used a Nikon D7000 DSLR camera to shoot the 5K run/walk at the Healings in Motion event in downtown Stockton. Skinner capture the excitement and exuberance of start of the race caught in the facial expressions and body language of the participants.


All of the photos sent in can be viewed in a photo gallery at A new challenge assignment will issued on July 13.

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