You will have heard hundreds of times that photography is light. In fact photography is literally ‘writing with light’. That is why as photographers, we give so much importance to this valuable raw material. But, what is beyond knowing and mastering light, different techniques or composition? What differentiates a correct image from a great photograph? Why do you think some images move you and others leave you indifferent? Surely by now you know what I am talking about. I speak of the ability to convey emotion through an image. Beyond beautiful, correct images, with nothing to object to, beyond them there are others that shake you, that are recorded in your retina, that cause you a specific feeling … These are the great photographs, those in which he / she who took the picture,He got you to do it through a photograph.
HOW IS EMOTION TRANSMITTED THROUGH AN IMAGE?
Photographing emotions goes beyond photographing someone smiling, with their eyes lost, with tears in their eyes or with a grimace of disgust. If you ‘simply’ photograph someone smiling, it will be a photo of someone smiling, but how will you convey the happiness that comes to the protagonist who laughs in your image? To photograph an emotion, you must take into account many factors, among which you highlight yourself. Let’s see some of the aspects that, in my view, can help you in the search for emotions:
- Choose a theme : If you dedicate yourself to photography ‘for the love of art’, that is, if you do not have a specific assignment to make, choose a theme in which you feel comfortable and that excites you. Find an environment where you feel identified, where you move easily, or where you can return whenever you want. If you are comfortable, it will be much easier to get what you want.
- Know yourself : Yes, it may sound strange to you ;-), but the best way to evolve as a photographer is to know yourself. Think about what you like and why, why you lean towards one type of photography or another, what do you want to convey, what are the images that most move you, and above all, identify yourself in everything you do and be yourself.
- Think before you shoot: It will seem obvious, but many times we don’t. We get carried away by what we see without giving it a meaning. And sometimes, for this reason, the photograph you find is basically what you saw, not what you felt or what the person you were photographing felt.
- Learn to observe : Training your eyes to learn to anticipate the facts is essential. With time and with practice you will learn to do it, you will be able to know which person, at what moment you are going to ‘give away’ that image you are looking for, you will be able to see as a photographer / what others in the same place do not see, and instead if you expect the images to come to you (something that happens rarely …), it will be you who will go looking for them … and find them.
- Empathize with what you portray : Especially if you are photographing people, the best way to convey feelings is when you turn your own into what you see. If you are photographing someone sad and you feel nothing, you will not take the same picture as if you share that same sadness, just as if you agree with what you see or criticize, the photographs will not be the same. Because like all art, photography is subjective, it shows what you feel, and it is you who chooses each frame, each subject, according to your feelings and your gaze, although sometimes you are not fully aware of it.
«The photographer cannot be a passive spectator, he cannot be really lucid if he is not involved in the event.» Henri Cartier-Bresson
- Let yourself go : Since you are trying to photograph and transmit emotions; thrill. Let yourself go, try to instinctively photograph with what you have already learned, think less and feel more, compose and master the techniques is not everything. The most important thing is to enjoy and try to give your best in each image.
WHAT TECHNIQUES CAN I USE TO CONVEY EMOTION?
If you are all emotion, but you need to channel it or accompany it in some way, here are some techniques that you can use to finish thrilling your viewers:
The points of view:
Varying the point of view (the angle) according to what you want to convey, is something you should keep in mind, and that will improve your images very quickly. The most common are the ones I show you below:
- Chopped: When you place your subject below the lens of your camera you dwarf it, since it is a plane in which you usually perceive what is smaller than you. This case would be true in children and everything you gain in size naturally, but you can also ‘force it’ and photograph almost anything at this angle. By placing it in a lower position, you give it some vulnerability and lack of protection.
- At the height of the look: When we place the protagonist of our image at the height of our eyes, you create an effect of empathy between the subject and the one who sees the image. You also transmit stability and peace, since it is our usual way of looking.
- Counter- cutting : When you place the center of interest above your camera you enlarge it, enhance it and give it strength.
When transmitting and photographing emotions, it is important that you keep track of the color that surrounds the main object. For example, photographing a bleak scene with a bright orange background can make the effect you intend to get blurred by the background. Unless you want to achieve exactly that, create a duality that surprises the viewer, it is best that you look whenever you can, a color that accompanies the main idea you want to express. Also remember to calibrate your camera with the white balance that you consider appropriate for each situation. A warm tone may do well for a ‘tender’ image, but perhaps not so well for, for example, a boxing match
The black and white:
If you want to photograph emotions, you cannot forget black and white . Through the absence of color, black and white manages to simplify and focus on the essence of what you are photographing. It is much more abstract, evocative, formal and sentimental. You cannot try to photograph emotions without trying it, I can almost promise you that you will not be disappointed.
The space (negative):
How you distribute space and objects in an image, can explain and convey many things. You can convey stress, loneliness, freedom, movement … Simply choosing where your image is going to breathe or what level of prominence you will give to the main object (isolated in the middle of a very wide space, for example). If you want to deepen what the negative space is and how to apply it in composition, I recommend this article.
Of course, if you are taking portraits or, in general, if you are photographing people, what your ‘model’ conveys is essential. Many times we get carried away by the need to photograph the most intense emotions (laughter, happiness, crying, pain, anger …) and we do not give importance to other less obvious emotions. Surely it is because you think that they are not so universal or that the viewer will not understand them so easily, but a lost look, a reflective expression, the mystery, or a sad smile, are also able to explain and talk to us about emotions, sometimes even more What a great smile. So do not settle for ‘force’ the typical scene of ‘smile’, let your protagonist feel comfortable and give you his true essence, and you always prepared to immortalize it.
Here Caro leaves you with great advice about body language in portrait photography.
The details: Not necessarily to convey an emotion you need a face or a human being to transmit it. For example, it is amazing what you can explain with your hands. A tiny hand holding an aged hand is a way of explaining a blunt story, don’t you think? Life and death, tenderness, extremes that touch physically … Look at the following image. It speaks for itself, right?
If you look at the details, apart from training your look, you will get a different narrative for your images, look for what is less obvious and come closer, do you remember that great quote? If your photographs are not good enough it is because you were not close enough ‘by Robert Capa? Well, try to get close to see what happens
(By the way, if you are interested in hand photography you can not stop reading this fantastic article, nor see the fantastic selection of the challenge on this topic here )
Photos in high / low key:
The photographs in different keys, also have a deep emotional charge, each totally different from the other. For example, in a high key (white background and lots of light), the light speaks almost by itself of a positive, cheerful, good, tender fact. We have everything in the subconscious. Just as we associate darkness, black color and in general the photographs in low key (dark background and low light), mystery, loneliness, suffering, or deep intimacy.
I leave this article by Mario so you can deepen it.
Beyond the portraits:
Not only emotions are photographed through human beings or living beings, although it is usually the most common and logical, you can express feelings through everything around you. Through luminous landscapes, a raging sea, a landscape with fog, a duck alone in a large lake or a shoe on the asphalt … Everything can be a great story and everything can convey emotions. So there is no excuse to say that everyone is fed up of chasing them to take pictures, you can find and photograph emotion in everything you set out, if you propose, of course, and if you feel it first. You will see as if you let yourself go you will get fascinating images.
Mix opposites:As you have already seen for yourself many times, our gaze pays more attention to what is different, and that because it is, it stands out above the rest, for example, in an image with hundreds of black umbrellas, where there is only one red, your look will go directly to red. Apart from the fact that red is a very attractive color for our eyes, we focus on it because it is different from the rest. A good way to boost something is to surround it with the opposite, for example, surely you have seen images in which a stranger is still in the middle of a moving crowd, which further emphasizes the coming and going of others and at the same time The stillness of the protagonist. Or an image where everyone is happy, someone serious stands out much more; transmits more emotion in that environment by contrast to the rest, than in an image where, for example,
If you are reading this, it is surely because you are so excited about photography, and that means that half of the work you have already done, because the most basic thing to photograph emotions is that you get excited . That above all, the rest will come. It shows a lot when there is emotion in a photograph, it does not matter if it is ‘correct’, if you put an unwanted finger in the frame, if you missed half a point of light, or your pulse trembled at how excited you wereAll this is learned, but emotion, fascination, there is no tutorial to teach you You have to live it and feel it, you have to get excited every time you take the camera and think about the great photographs that are still to be taken, and enjoy the thousands of daily opportunities you have to get excited and make the one who looks at them get excited with you. Be yourself, have a good time, put passion into what you do, and the rest will come rolled.
I hope you liked it and it was useful. If so, please like us on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ Thank you very much!