Tips to Photographing an Older Generation

Written by Backdrop Express Photography Team on . Posted in Photography Tips, Portrait Photography

old man smiling on black background

For many different reasons, over the years, we’ve developed a growing admiration for the elders within our communities. They have loved, laughed and cried for many decades making them the inspiration to many of the younger generations they come in contact with. Their faces share their passion for life and all they have experienced. There is no better way to preserve their life experiences than through photography.


Many times photographers feel they need to use black and white photography when shooting an elderly subject. Though black and white portrait photography can be very dramatic, the use of color can be just as dramatic with older subjects. The use of color can emphasize the subject’s emotion and grab the viewer’s attention.
old man in denim sitting on bench

Photo by Tuesday Sunshine via Flickr

Laugh It Up

One of the best photography tips that can be given is to have fun and laugh it up. While the weathered, quiet look is a great one for portraits of seniors, there’s no reason why you can’t make your photo shoot youthful and a fun experience for your subject. Older generations have been through a lot and want to live it up. Have fun and use lots of humor when working with older subjects. For example, place your subject in a situation they normally would not be in or poke fun at younger generations.


Consider the message you want to send to your viewer about your elderly subject. The photograph you shoot needs to tell the history about the person you are shooting. If your subject loves gardening, you can shoot her in the garden or have her surrounded by a bunch of wildflowers. Maybe your subject was a war pilot. Consider putting him near a runway or next to an old war plane. The background you choose will greatly enhance the story of your subject.

If you’re shooting in the studio, go for darker or neutral solid colored backdrops. Patterns or very bright colors will deter too much from the subject if you’re going for a wise, classic tone.

old woman in pool


Older generations have earned every crease, wrinkle and line on their bodies. Focus on these details and show viewers how your subject has embraced growing old. Other detail-oriented photography tips include being aware of the subject’s skin tone, age spots and other blemishes. Light reflectors and proper studio lighting may be necessary to help focus on the details. The additional equipment will help diminish any distracting features on the subject’s body.

Be Comfortable

Have your subject sit down and have a conversation while shooting the portrait. Not only will you learn about the subject and his experiences, he will be relaxed and more likely to show more genuine emotions. No matter where you end up shooting your portraits, be comfortable and remember to allow your subject to be comfortable. old couple sitting on bench on lake


The way you have your subject dress for the portrait can help enhance the meaning of the story you are trying to relay to your viewers. Have your subject dress in a manner which relates to the storyline of your photo shoot. For example, if he was a war veteran, have him dress in an old uniform, or find an old Army sweatshirt and hat for him to wear. There is no need for a formal outfit. Have fun and work with your subject in finding the perfect attire to wear during the portrait session. Take care when conducting a portrait photography session with someone from an older generation. You want to focus on their strengths and their character. Be creative and work with your subject to find out what type of story they want to share. By working together, the two of you can tell a story that will be admired by younger and future generations.

What generation do you enjoy working with most?

Backdrop Express Photography Team

Interested in reading more about portrait photography? Check out Improve Your Portraits with 15 Easy Tips!

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Comments (1)

  • Becky


    love working with the children and pets, but i really love the older generation. the spark that lights their eyes when you start talking to them about grand children, and different things in their past. love to hear the war stories. I really would love to do just an old soldiers photo book, with pictures of soldiers, (military) and one or two short stories from each of them.


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