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The Globe and Mail

Photographer's tip: Three steps to capturing great photos of people at work

Cliffside Hearth Bread Company co-owner Camelia Proulx at work in the bakery.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

When photographing a person a work, you want to find a way to incorporate the work environment into your photograph. If you have the time, talk to your subject and find out who they are, what they are working on, what they do in the day and try to build a rapport with them. If you are doing a portrait, find a way to incorporate the work environment or equipment the subject may use. Most occupations have interesting tools, clothing, or settings that can be bring life and information to your photograph.

Better yet, get the subject in action at work, like the artist painting in his space. Tell them to ignore the camera and continue on with their day like you aren't there. Your subject may be a bit uncomfortable or self-conscious in the beginning but eventually they will get used to you being there and things will start to flow. Move with your subject as they go about their work.

If you are planning to do a small photo story on your subject, take time out to shoot some details of the work being done like in the image of the metal artist tapping out the design of a metal art piece. The image can be used as part of a story or as a stand-alone image – it tells the viewer what the person does.

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Pay attention to light and composition. Shoot wide, medium, tight and don't be afraid to try different angles, shoot through equipment or items in the environment like the photo of the baker putting a tray of bread on a cooling rack, framing your subject. The key is to include enough of the surroundings to show what the person does.

When you are taking your photos, think about who may be looking at the photo later. If they have to ask what the person does, then you haven't included enough of the persons work environment or equipment into your image.

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