Shy gymnast peeks while waiting to perform during Lowell, Ma. Recreation Department gymnastics competition (© Michael Maher, The Lowell (Ma.) Sun).
When I photographed a youth gymnastics competition, I first shot competitors in action on the balance beam, parallel bars, etc. However, since these were very young kids, it was unlikely they would provide spectacular action or difficult feats. I shifted my attention to other gymnasts watching, in case I could find expressions of emotion after a friend or teammate had a stellar performance. When I pointed my camera at one girl sitting on the floor among the others, she hid her face behind her knees. If I put my camera down or pointed elsewhere, she looked up again with face fully visible. This went back-and-forth until she peered her eyes over the top of her knees and stared at me. It was a charming photo for it conveyed her personality and shyness. I often prefer the subject not look at me in a picture, but it’s perfectly acceptable in a personality photo because it expresses the person’s character more strongly when they are looking at the camera, rather than if they were merely looking away.3 Tips:
1) Shyness can create a charming trait for a photo.
2) Shyness often requires repeated effort to capture.
3) Personality photos are often much stronger when the subject looks at the camera.