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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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Hi Bryce.

Michael and I would like to thank you for providing us with such amazing photos of our special day.

You went above and beyond to ensure that we would be pleased with the end results. You were not only professional and knowledgeable and patient but you went out of your way to find the perfect locations to make our day fun and memorable.

We would recommend your services to anyone that has a desire to have fun and expect the best!

Winter is a challenge to make fun but you nailed It!

Thank you!

Penny and Michael.


Mike and Penny

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