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Photographing older adults - hints and tips

In Issy's latest blog, she has written about photographing older adults.

How to take flattering portraits of older people.


A group in the photography world which is often missed is the older generation, the focus tends to lie on children, teens and adults of around 35 downwards. However, this ignored generation still needs some attention, as no matter how old you are, you will never be too old to smile for a photo! Although, some older people shy away from the camera, worrying about the affect ageing has had on them and begin to feel self-conscious. Wrinkles and fine-lines, for some, is all they can see in a portrait of themselves but this is generally because the photo emphasis these features. As the photography techniques for taking flattering portraits of older people differ greatly to those on how to take portraits of younger people. Celebrities such as Helen Mirren and Judy Dench prove that you are never to old for your beauty to be conveyed. So below is a toolbox of tips and tricks for how to capture ageing beauty:


  • Use soft light. Soft light is light which does not create harsh shadows or a high contrast in your photographs. Soft light is perfect for portraits of older people, as it doesn’t create so many shadows and so helps to diminish the appearance of wrinkles and not draw attention to them. 
  • To tell if your light is soft or not look to see if they have a dark shadow under their nose or brow bone, if they do your light is hard not soft. Soft light can be found in shaded ares or anywhere outside on a cloudy day, as the clouds diffuse the light. If the location where you are, all the natural light is hard, try back lighting the subject, and if needed use a reflector or any white flat object to bounce a little light back into the subjects face. 
  • Bring in the family. If the people you're photographing have grandchildren, see if you can get them and your subject involved in an activity together. This should help you capture some great candid shots and relax your subject. 
  • Fill the frame, its easy and simple to do but never the less a great tip. Filling the frame allows you to get a really sharp focus on the subject’s eyes. Eyes are very expressive and with years of wisdom, the elderly's eyes are often the most intriguing and so it is a great idea to focus on these. 
  • Try a classic black and white conversion. Two reasons as to why you should use a black and white conversion is first that black and white conversions are a way to cover skin imperfections without an excessive amount of post processing if the photo was shot in a diffused light. 
  • The other reason is that the older generations simply tend to like black and white photographs because they remind them of the photographs they have from their own youth. 
  • Avoid side lighting (sometimes). This type of lighting will accentuate wrinkles, as the light travels across the surface of the face and so highlights the low and high points, which unfortunately also includes wrinkles.
  • Although, this is not always a bad thing, wrinkles are often disliked by those who have them but why? Embrace them. They are part of you, they show what you’ve been through, so don’t view those eye wrinkles as crows feet see them as scars of your happiness.


There is no need anymore to take unflattering portraits of the older generations so this summer embrace the togetherness this season brings and start capturing some beautiful portraits of everyone… including the older members of your family.


older man, Family photography, Forest of Dean


Capturing families of all ages by Capture this Moment Photography

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