This is the follow-up post to Expression Trumps All Else
Expression is really just emotion shining through. Most people can’t fake emotion, and more than likely, your clients are ‘most people.’ So it’s our job, as professional photographers, to find, extract and capture the feelings that they are often too nervous to share.
Over the years, I have come to realize that I am drawn to expression over all else – and my clients are, too. I have learned how to explain what I saw and why I captured it as I did so that my clients can see what I see – but even without all of that? They know what they feel.
Here are my 3 tips to bring out more emotion in your subjects…
1. Don’t Rush The Moment. I have found that it is often a half a second after I have pushed the shutter down that the real emotion comes through. Realizing this, I have been able to train myself to have my shutter half-way down with my focal point locked in… and then I wait. I wait for the emotion to shine through.
I like to quick-fire several shots for a storyboard that I can use on the blog or as a ‘thank you’ gift, but I always end with the expression shot: the one that makes you feel something.
2. Be A Comedian. It’s our job to extract the emotion. Have you ever had a client tell you, “This is going to be hard work for you!” because they are terrible at being photographed? Of course you have; we all have! This is your client practically begging you to help save them from their awkward expressions.
This adorable couple apologized multiple times in advance for how ‘un-photogenic’ they are. Do they look like they are having any trouble in front of the camera? Definitely not! In fact, this is one of my favorite maternity sessions I’ve ever shot. After only a few moments, I figured out what the problems were. The first was that he blinked a lot; with some minor adjustments I fixed that. The second was just an overall sense of unease with all the attention (and the lens) directed at them. Also not a problem. I just turned the focus to me.
Often, self-deprecation works wonders for bringing out great smiles! That’s right, they are not laughing with me… They are full-on laughing at me! And I’m happy to sacrifice my pride for the shot!
3. Ask Thought-Provoking Questions. I will often ask my clients questions that will evoke the emotion that I am looking for. Lots of times, I’m not even privy to the answers, because I have them whisper it to each other. When their mindset changes from “There is a camera in front of me…” to “Oh, my goodness, I love you!” it becomes much easier to get that love ‘n feeling that we so hope to document. I use this techniques for love birds, new parents, siblings, old parents – really it can be adapted for any situation!