Photography is often considered an art. And there are many types of art in general as there is in Photography. And thinking of adding emotions to your photography can be a great new way to do photography.
Of course, not all viewers experience the same emotions in response to the same photos, so don’t feel pressure to convey specific feelings to everyone. Instead, use these tips, plus your personal emotions, to create powerful, one-of-a-kind images.
1- Identify your mood before taking pictures:
Whenever you head out with your camera, before you take a single shot, or even look for a shot, ask yourself: How am I feeling today? Then let that emotion guide your shooting, and channel it into your photos.
After all, it’s tough to infuse an image with an emotion that you aren’t feeling. If you’re over the moon with happiness, you’ll struggle to find sad or bleak compositions. And if you’re down in the dumps, creating awe-inspiring or uplifting images won’t be easy.
So start by identifying your emotions. Look for compositions that align with those feelings.
At the same time, it’s often worth rechecking your feelings periodically throughout your photoshoot. Depending on the view, the light, chance encounters, etc., emotions can change, and you don’t want to miss out on emotionally resonant shots because you’re searching for the wrong thing.
By the way, sometimes, your emotional state might simply be “bored” or “bleh.” That’s okay; it happens to the best of us. When I look back through my travel photos, I’ll notice a dip in quality, and it often corresponds to my feelings at the time. On days like these, you might consider leaving your camera behind, watching a movie, or doing something creative that doesn’t pressure you to take powerful, emotional shots.
And don’t worry. Your boredom will pass, and pretty soon you’ll feel excited about photography again!
2- SIMPLIFY THE SHOT:
In wide, busy, expansive scenes, emotions often get lost. Yes, the emotion might be there, but the viewer will have a hard time noticing – the image may fall a bit flat, at least from an emotional point of view.
So if you’re looking to create emotional photography, consider simplifying the shot. Exclude elements from your frame. Choose a perspective that highlights a single area of interest, not the entire scene.
3- FOCUS ON FACES:
Faces are full of emotion. The eyes are the windows to the soul, after all, and often show anger, joy, sadness, love, and so much more.
Plus, faces can convey emotions through puffy eyes, tears, wrinkles, etc. So if you want feelings to really shine through, train your lens on people’s faces!
A word of caution, however: Do not rush up with your lens, thrust it into a person’s field of view, and snap a shot, especially if they’re feeling emotional. Instead, be respectful. Whenever possible, ask permission, especially if you don’t know the person. (I often just raise my eyebrows while pointing at my camera, and it works great.)
By the way, if you want top-notch emotional portraits, make sure to think about the lighting. Learn about lighting patterns and how they affect the viewer, because it’s easy to convey different emotions simply by changing the light’s position relative to the subject.
A final piece of advice: Don’t encourage your subjects toward specific emotions. If they’re feeling sad, take a sad photo; if they’re feeling happy, take a happy photo; if they’re feeling tired, take a tired photo…You get the idea. Yes, it’s good to head into a scene with specific feelings in mind, but you must be adaptable, depending on the content of the scene.
4- STOP FOR A MOMENT AND JUST OBSERVE:
When I tell people to stop shooting and put the camera away, I often get criticized, yet it’s an important part of photography – especially photography infused with feelings.
Setting down your camera gives you time to observe the world. Just look around and see what pulls at your consciousness. Ask yourself: What interests me? What draws me? What do I want to capture? What matters to me about this scene?
5- RETURN TO THE SAME SCENE AGAIN AND AGAIN:
Scenes look different on different days, and your feelings are different on different days, too.
Take advantage of that fact.
If you’re shooting a subject that you can return to, then do it. The street or beach or room or person will have a different feel on different days, especially if you’re photographing outdoors and the weather changes often.
Conveying emotion is a surefire way to create powerful images that connect with the viewer. Feelings will elevate your work and give it more punch.
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PHOTOGRAPHY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
Most of today’s article is compliments of Peter West Carey, and DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY SCHOOL. A sincere thanks to this organization.