By Michèle Grenier

July 8, 2020


Do you like to shoot spontaneous and striking images? Here are some fire techniques to be a true lifestyle portrait ninja!

Capturing intense/unique/hilarious/moving moments is an art in itself. Whether we are photographing a wedding, a convention, a sports competition, a festival or a children's party, the stealthier we are, the more natural the results are.

Without further ado, here are a few techniques I use to shoot amazing spontaneous photos.

(One of my interpretation of invisibility)

Ninja Tip #1 : Invisibility

Although we don't have a magic cloak in our photo bags (if only!), we can still make wise clothing choices. A simple outfit that doesn't scream "ATTENTION, PHOTOGRAPHER AHEAD" is a classic for any occasion. (Photographers with mirrorless cameras have an invisibility bonus point).

Blending in makes it easier to get the authentic expressions and reactions of your subjects. They retain their natural way of being because, in the heat of the moment, they don't notice they're being observed. You will be amazed at what happens when you know how to make yourself forgotten.

Wide-angle Ninja Watch!
Michèle Grenier
Sony a9 + Sony E 28mm f/2

 Ninja Tip #2 : Observing

I love using telephoto lenses when I take pictures. Why do you use a telephoto lens? Because it's much easier to observe without interfering when you're far away!

Rest assured, it is also possible to ninja watch with a wide angle lens. I sit in an interesting place and let people adapt by looking at what is going on around me (a bit like taming an animal). A few minutes later, I take my camera back without moving and start taking pictures casually. Neither seen nor known!

Soft light at the end of the day
Michèle Grenier
Sony a9 + Sony FE 135mm f/1.8 GM

Ninja Tip #3 : Mastering The Light

Photography - taken in ninja mode or not - is still a question of light. It is important to identify the sources of light on the scene (whether indoors or outdoors).  Is it coming from a window? Industrial lighting? A lamp? From the sun?

Identifying light sources helps in making two decisions:

First Decision
What angle will be the most useful to highlight my subject(s). Depending on the desired effect, knowing the light source allows you to position yourself facing it, from the back or from the side.

Second Decision
Its intensity will dictate the settings to be used in our camera. If the light source is very intense (e.g. the sun), a faster shutter speed, a smaller aperture and/or a lower ISO should probably be considered.

There's diving... and then there's post-diving!
Michèle Grenier
Sony a9 + Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA


Ninja Tip #4 : Anticipation

The essence of a portrait is to capture an expression, an emotion. Since everything is done spontaneously in lifestyle, you have to be able to anticipate key moments before they are lost forever. How do you do it? Stay alert and follow the action!

Are You A Ninja?

Your turn! Go outside, enjoy the good weather, find an interesting subject and let the ninja in you express themself!

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