Quick Portraits - Not Quite Spontaneous, Not Quite Posed


Photograph of weightlifter


Shooting quick portraits at events

I am a Kingston based photographer. Sometimes I am asked to photograph events. When I do I always try to photograph some quick portraits.


What is a quick portrait? - It is not quite spontaneous, and not quite posed!


I was photographing a powerlifting competition in Toronto recently. Most of my photography was focused on shooting the athletes as they competed in squats, benchpress and deadlifts. But I knew I would have a few minutes as they were rearranging the equipment at midday. So I set up a small backdrop and a couple of speedlights. The competitors and officials and volunteers were all very busy.  I knew I would only have time for two or three shots each. So that is what I did. These are the portraits, They are not quite spontaneous and they are not quite posed.


I am including some shots from that session. They turned out quite well. All I told the participants was to stand there and turn this way or that way. Look at me and smile or look at me and don’t smile. That is I gave the absolute minimum direction to the subjects. It sounds like I was just winging it but I did have a plan.


My plan started with the equipment. My lighting was all set up and ready to go. I used a single backdrop. I kept the setup as simple as possible. The whole thing only took five minutes to set up.


Then I just asked people to step in front of the camera. As you can tell some are more comfortable than others. But that is fine. I was not giving people enough time to feel nervous. I was looking for one more way to capture the mood of the day. 


A few couples asked if I could photograph them together. One of these couples told me this was the first time they had ever posed together in a photo like this.


I am pretty sure that for most of the people I photographed that day this was the first “portrait” they had had done.


This something I am going to try again. Hopefully next time I will have more time and I can photograph more participants. If you are hosting an event whether it is a sports competition, a birthday party, a christmas party, a company celebration or a wedding think about hiring a photographer to take quick “portraits” of your guests.




I am a Kingston based lifestyle photographer. I cover all of southern and eastern Ontario. Let me shoot your event.


Contact Bryce Murdoch Photography


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