How to photograph emotions

23 min read

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Danutza88's avatar
Dear friends,

What separates a simple snapshot from a masterpiece is the story the image portrays. The more emotional the shot is, the more it appeals to our senses. So, today we'll talk about EMOTIONS: how to capture them in our photos. In the next journal we'll try to see how to induce different emotions using colors.


How we should capture emotions?

There might not be a perfect answer to it. Emotions, by their very nature, do not follow fixed rules. They just happen, based on what a person feels at a given moment of time. And likewise, there're no fixed rules for capturing emotions, too. The same scene can evoke different emotions in different people, hence emotions are subject to personal bias.

Nevertheless, here's a list of indicators on the situations where one may come across emotions that can be captured:

1. Quit Saying 'Smile'...
...or 'cheese', or whatever it is you say to force people give a constant and similar expression. Be natural and capture people just before they're prepared for the shot. You can take two or three shots even during a 'posed' group photo, and the first will almost always be when the group still thinks you're adjusting your camera, and are busy interacting amongst themselves. The lack of being conscious makes them portray true and natural emotion. The third shot is usually just after you've taken the posed group photo, again when people have dropped their artificial smile and assume a more natural expression on their faces.

2. Photograph Babies & Children
Babies and children are a bundle of emotions. The little ones usually haven't still learnt the art of faking and you can literally see the 'truth in their eyes'. Try to fill the frame, taking care not to give too much prominence to the face. Capture the child in context to his/her surroundings. That makes the photo tell a 'story'. Another place you can try is the playground. Emotions run high in any sport, and trying to capture the expressions on the faces of the players whenever some event occurs during the sport makes wonderful practice.

baby d....02 by CreativeExpressions My dear plushie by Lionique Flower child by kittynn
Playground Punk by girltripped Baby Loves Kitty by girltripped
In search of the flower fairy by mechtaniya autumn pore.. eyes charm by mechtaniya
Baby Model by jessicalv:thumb81062253:
Baby Rock by SAMLIM:thumb206835915:
Happy Baby by Lady-Tori Kiss me by luvsinspiration

3. Capture the Eyes
The eyes are the window to our soul. And if one has to isolate any one organ to truly portray emotions, it's the eye. Human or animal, eyes usually always convey what the subject is feeling. The intense focus in the eyes of an eagle or the soft warmth in those of your pet Labrador, or the myriad expressions of a ballet dancer, the eyes are the key to capturing the emotions felt by the subject. A raised eyebrow can sometimes say what a hundred words cannot!

Dusky Eyes by zemotion:thumb265408990::thumb70536601:
sad story of her eyes by bitterev
cute Baby b n w effect by theicon92 green eyes by chelloveck
Self-Love 4: Eyes by my-goddess My Eyes by SkirtCt
The Night's Eyes II by sexties Big Blue Eyes by Lovely-Expressions
Eyes by Dfotografia Eyes by vejitatoja

4. Vary Lighting
Lighting affects more the 'mood' of the photo rather than help portray emotions. But the right lighting can surely enhance or make prominent the emotions conveyed by the subject. Light - or the lack of - can be used synergistically as well as in contrast to the emotion being portrayed. Illuminating just a part of your photo, with a flashlight or a candle can create a mysterious allure, and can work wonders in portraying sadness, fear or romance. Backlit images or silhouettes too can be tried. Especially in a high contrast image, silhouettes speak for themselves. Harsh lighting can enhance the emotions of pain, anger and depression, whereas soft diffused lighting enhances romance, peace and happiness. Additionally, color filters can also add to the emotions in a photo.

5. Try Different Angles for Your Shot
Try shooting from different angles. A shot of a person taken from a low angle helps establish authority, as it makes the figure loom large in the frame. Panning either alone or in combination with zooming in or out creates emphasis on a particular subject.

6. Break The Rules
Emotions are best conveyed by the eyes and face. That's the rule. So break it. Emotions can also be conveyed by other features. Say, sweat dripping down the face, the gestures made by hands and legs and other elements in the foreground or background.

Capturing Emotions

To conclude, I again reiterate that there are no absolute rules for capturing emotions with your digital camera. But if possible, try to get these things working:

1. Feel the emotion you're trying to capture.

2. Be at the right place at the right time.

3. Don't draw the attention of your subject. Be as unobtrusive as possible.

4. Try, try and try some more.

Info taken from…

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Lovely-Expressions's avatar
Thank you so much for the feature!
mchahine's avatar
Thank you for the feature :)
SAMLIM's avatar
THANKS for invite my ' BABY ROCK ' to your party !!!
Lionique's avatar
ispandsbob's avatar
OMG :O very nice feature! :D and thanks for including me :D :hug: :glomp:
Danutza88's avatar
:aww: You're very welcome!:D
tatehemlock's avatar
Really nice feature! Honored to be included! Thank you so much!
Danutza88's avatar
I'm glad you like it. You're welcome!:D
TheSilverSunbeam's avatar
Awesome feature. Many thanks for the inclusion :)
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