Quick Tip: Why I Often Prefer “Real” People

Quick Tip: Despite popular opinion, it is not always essential to shoot professional models. For many of my lifestyle shoots, I actually prefer to photograph real people.  For example, in this shot for John Deere, I found that real people created a more authentic story/feeling.

This was shot at F/8 @ 1/250 sec. using Canon 5D at 85 mm.

What are you thoughts – do you prefer shooting real people or paid pros?


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  1. I only shoot real people. For the most part that’s why I shoot landscape or animals. They’re not posing. I want to capture a real moment, not a fake.

    When I do shoot people, they often do not know that I’m taking the photo & you get glance of them in their natural element.

    • You make a good point, photos of people in their natural element can be very powerful.

  2. Catherine,

    I think it’s different in different cities. If were living in Enid, OK and was making a living as a photographer then it would be REAL people all the time. However, in Los Angeles, and especially if you are an Editorial Portrait photographer or Commercial Photographer then it’s frowned upon to shoot real people.

    I hired a very well known and respected Creative Consultant who loved my work as an Editorial photographer but then chided me for using (and I am quoting her) “not so pretty people who distract from your work.” She was specifically referring to an image I shot of a couple who were artists at Burning Man. That image has been removed from my site but I LOVE that image. So while I would prefer to shoot real people the industries in which we work tend to dictate those choices most times.

    My $.02,