Photography can be highly visual art, but like any other art form, it’s not just about aesthetics, it’s about telling a story. This is particularly true when photographing people like your subjects. Capturing authentic emotions and feelings in an image is the key to creating beautiful and truly compelling images that speak to your audience on a more personal level.
There are many emotions that can be represented in an image. In all of our photographs, we strive to highlight joy, happiness, sadness, despair, and love, although the interpretation may vary depending on the viewer. However, the challenge is how to express emotions and feelings in the photograph and make it appear genuine.
Capture your subjects in a familiar environment to take photos that express feelings
Taking photos of your subjects in a place that is familiar to them allows them to feel more comfortable with you and your camera. You may even want to choose a place that has a special meaning for your subjects, as this can help elicit a strong emotional response and photos that express feelings.
During the actual session, ask your subjects to show you around this particular location, be it their home, the restaurant where they got engaged, or the place where they had their first date. Encourage them to tell you stories of their special moments, and ask them to show you their favorite objects or places in that particular place. The talk about significant events can help your subjects act more naturally by showing affection while including relevant elements that can help add context to the composition.
Give minimal direction and do not intervene for photos that convey an emotion
Don’t direct your subjects. Doing so may prevent you from taking photos that convey real emotions on-camera, as they will be too focused on maintaining a pose that may or may not be natural to them. Just guide them minimally, where to put your hands, how to tilt your head, and more. If you need to provide direction to use available light or the environment, learn to position your subjects in a way that doesn’t make them feel self-conscious or uncomfortable.
It is important to remember that you should only provide subtle guidance at first. Once your subjects are more comfortable facing the camera, allow them to freely interact with each other, and not interfere. If possible, stay away to make them feel more comfortable. The goal is to make your subjects forget that the camera is there, so strive to make yourself as invisible and discreet as possible.
Keep in mind that love can manifest itself on the face and through hand gestures, so try to focus or include the face and hands while shooting.
Give your subjects something to do to take photos of emotions and feelings
The best way to take photos of genuine emotions and feelings to be to make your subjects act in the most natural way possible, so make sure that the activity you choose makes it stand out. For example, if you’re trying to take romantic photos with a partner as a subject, ask them to snuggle up or do something they normally do daily. If you’re trying to capture the love between a man, and his canine the best friend, let them play their usual games, practice their favorite tricks, and do any other activities that they both enjoy.
Allowing your subjects to do other things will help prevent them from posing consciously or unconsciously for the camera, and should allow them to capture their emotions in their truest state.
Learn to anticipate important moments in your emotional photographs
Another thing to keep in mind when trying to take pictures of authentic emotions in your photos is to be aware of possible instances in which you can capture your subjects in their most careless way. These moments can happen when you least expect it, but if you stay alert and vigilant, you should be able to catch them. Also, make sure your camera is ready to take that photo at any time, you won’t have time to play around with your settings.
But even when you can capture these shots, you shouldn’t stop there. That fraction of seconds right after the height of the emotions can also be a good time to capture photos since it is generally during this time when the face and body of your subject become more relaxed and natural.
Focus on the eyes for excellent emotional photography
The eyes can convey true emotions regardless of what the other facial features indicate. A smiling person can still transmit a different conflicting emotion (sadness, despair, and even fear) through their eyes. Therefore, if you want to determine what a person really feels, you need to focus on their eyes for your emotional photography.
However, if a subject’s eyes are closed due to some kind of strong emotion that’s fine. Overwhelming feelings can often cause a person to close their eyes, such as when they cry, feel pain, or experience extreme happiness and satisfaction.
Keep shooting for more photos of emotions
Continuous shooting will allow you to capture all kinds of moments, from intimate, fun, to those other candid but meaningful photos that would otherwise not be captured if you weren’t ready to take them.
Use your camera’s continuous shooting mode and shoot a particular moment in bursts to make sure you capture plenty of shots to choose from. This gives you a better chance of getting the right photo at the right time.
Expand other details for the composition of your photos of emotions
In emotion photos, you should focus on the correct details to help convey emotions in your images. You can try to expand the body language of your subjects, how they hold their hands, their posture, and even small details such as tears and sweat. All of these details can present extremely powerful ways of conveying what your subjects really feel, as they are often more difficult to fake.
In some cases, these details can also be an object that means love, such as an engagement ring on a woman’s finger or a child’s worn-out teddy bear given to him by his grandfather.
Use the element of surprise to get images that convey emotions
Take several surprise photos. This allows you to catch your subjects off guard, which will help show their natural feelings. Most of the time, surprising your subject can give you the images that convey the most memorable emotions you can hope to get. You can do this at times when your subjects are not aware that they are being photographed, and in any other case that they would not normally take a photo of.
If all else fails, go ahead and try creating carefully planned and posed shots that show the emotions you want to portray in your photos. Anyway, if you want to learn many more photography techniques, then you should start learning photography and camera management.