I am not a people person. I resist photographing people - I prefer nature, and nature photography, possibly because nature (so far) has never complained about how I "made it look".
The other day I found myself at a brunch, with my main camera, and a group of friends - young and old - who expected me to take photos of them. Grr.
Fortunately the light saved the day for me. There was a skylight that brought in a lot of light but no direct sunlight to create sharp shadows; the walls were very light with lots of angles and planes, so overall the lighting was strong but diffused. This was especially important with the older guests who have been graced with laugh lines, wrinkles and other such natural phenomena that could cause deep shadows and perhaps equally deep resentment.
The effect was extraordinary. Each face was fully illuminated, allowing for portrait quality shots with minimal technical overhead; I could focus (pun intended) instead on the facial expressions and convey the moods and laughs lavishly as I cruised the room, never distracting anyone with a flash. I could not have done better in a studio - in fact definitely not, since then there would be the tension of posing for the shot.
Natural light works best. Living in sunny California helps ...