Expressions is an indispensable element of portrait photography. Capturing expressions gives an opportunity to portray human emotions on the photographic frame and adds liveliness to a photograph. Expression is an interplay of all the facial features reflecting (and depicting) various moods and thus adds dynamics to the photographs. Portrait photography is incomplete without capturing the cheerfulness of eyes, thoughtfulness of character and merriment of relationships. Expressions can be effectively used to make photographs of living beings more engaging — be it people or pets.
Unposed & Candid Shots
Expressions are best captured when unposed. Human consciousness kills the natural looking, awesome and authentic expressions. Opt for candid photography for some great and momentous photographs. Turn the flash off and click people around you when they are busy, engaged in their own world. Human emotions and mood swings are spontaneous and implicit. You cannot direct anyone to explicitly express the emotions. Always be ready with your camera to shoot the oscillating moods and natural expressions.
Establish Rapport With Your Subject
Getting the appropriate expression in posed photographs requires a lot of understanding and interaction between the photographer and the subject. The photographer’s instinct and insight plays an important role in getting the desired effects. The photographer has to actively involve himself in the task of directing the subject to pose naturally and comfortably so as to reflect the authentic moods. Create friendly environment and make you subject feel comfortable, establish the rapport with your subject.
Crack A Joke
Sometimes cracking a joke works wonders. Humor tends to defy human inhibitions and brings out natural unposed laughter. At other times just carrying on a conversation works the best.
Develop an Informal Atmosphere
As a photographer, a lot depends on you when trying to capture expression. Humans respond to feelings, expressions and the charisma of other people. The way you conduct and carry yourself, your style of interaction etc. make all the difference. Exercise patience, strike a conversation and kill consciousness. If the subject is conscious, practice some test shots with them — one of these might become the final result.
Best Way To Portray Expressions Is To Focus On Eyes
Eyes are the most expressive aspect of the human persona. A slightly boosted reflection in the eye can imply sadness. An elevated glance reflects hope. Learn to understand the expression in the eyes and make the most of it when photographing expressions.
Zoom-in To Get Lively Expressions
Expressions add liveliness to otherwise still images. Consider zooming-in the portraiture to bring out the facial expressions — speaking eyes and the smiling lips. Try to fill your photographic frame with zoomed-in portrait; thus, cropping and eliminating the distracting background.
Add Perspective & Context To Amplify Expressions
Add your perspective to the portraiture to heighten the expressions. Consider photographing the portraits at varying angles and viewpoint. Sometimes adding a context to the photograph helps emphasize the mood and thus the expression.
As an additional detail, “expression” and “mood” may sound the same but are pretty distinguished in the context of photography. The term “expression” is mostly used to refer to the explicit expression of the subject while “mood” is generally used to depict the overall mood or ambiance of a photograph. Watch this space for an article on building up a “mood” in the photograph.
Thanks Andrej, Arun.
#7 is a great shot, but the best tip is to maintain focus on the eyes… this is where all the expression is.