Wednesday, November 5, 2014

3 Tips on How to Capture Emotion in your Photos

Maya Angelou said "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel".  I think this is also true about how certain sounds or scents or scenes can make you relive certain feelings and experiences as well.  The same goes for photography.  Capturing feelings is not an easy task and can take a very long time to master. I'm not sure I've event mastered it yet, but I think I'm getting there.

Below are three tips that have helped me a long the way.

1.  Warm up with your subject before going for the money shot.  It's rare that the first bunch of frames will be keepers.  They will most likely suck actually.  But that's when you should take the opportunity to warm up with your subject, especially if you've never met before.  Spending time with your subject will likely result in photos where they will feel comfortable with you.  Sometimes that may require minutes, hours or even days depending on the nature of the assignment.

This photo was taken about 3-4 hours into a shoot.
This was a one hour family shoot and this image was one of the final frames.
This was taken after a number of sessions with Vancouver-based fine art photographer, Melissa Mercier.  
2.  Shoot a few parties or other special events.  Social gatherings are great places to practice capturing emotion.  This is where you get to be a fly on the wall and observe everyone through your viewfinder.  Watch how people interact with each other.  They will, at some point, laugh, cry, smile, etc.

3.  Let the emotion of the moment take precedence over technical concerns. There are no f-stops or shutter speeds that could help you here.  It's a good idea to know the rules, but sometimes breaking them is best.

Lens flare and blown out highlights on the groom may be technically incorrect, but in this case it just works for me.
The was no first dance planned at this wedding, I was about to leave and then this happened. I didn't have time to think about what my camera settings were.  I am not sure that this photo would have worked if it were tack sharp.  The motion in the photo conveys exactly what this couple felt about one another.
Well this photo is generally pretty blurry. But one of my favourites of my boys.

Well, there you have it.  Those are my three suggestions. I hope they work for you as much as they've worked for me.  And don't forget to take lots of photos and have fun!