Beginners’ Emotional Photography – How to Let Your Captures Touch Souls

You often times find yourself feeling more for a photograph. It may sound so cliché but you are reminded of that old line, “a picture paints a thousand words”. As you take a look at expressive pictures, you feel connected to how the image portrays a sense of tenderness, intimacy, joy, pain, sadness and so on. Every human emotion speaks in volumes.

Now you are asking if what it really takes to capture that one great emotional photography shots. Those who have been doing it for many years have told a thousand of stories and have touched many souls.

Set your camera ready

Be reminded that no facial expression can be captivated by a camera that is not readily set. Pick the proper setting for the concept you have in mind for your emotional photography shot– no matter how spontaneous you go.

Be in the moment

Human emotions are complex (in a good way). It is fascinating. Every tick of the clock means different angle, different position and different view. Capturing a little moment of in-betweens allows you to immortalize and magnify the purest emotions found in people, shared by people. Don’t get pushed by the idea of getting a perfect shot only, remember that the most expressive captures happen when you are in the “now”.

emotional photography
Emotional photography by Karen Buenavista

Get to know your subject

When opting for a particular model or scenario, it helps to research a bit and talk to your model/s. Doing so enables you to look into his/her/their personalities. From there, you would know what to do and how to deal with their expressions. This is an awesome way to bring out the best in them and in the outcome of the photo shoot. 

To pose or not to

If you are dealing with professional models and actors, emotional poses can be choreographed. On the other hand, if you want to keep it as real, try not to coach poses or movements – let the situation be. As you can imagine, nothing can be as more soulful than kids frolicking under the sun, lovers sharing looks and touches, people walking around in different directions, tears rolling down the cheeks out of parting.

Light as an accomplice

The lack or presence of light or the lack of light can both be helpful to the feelings conveyed. For example you are taking a snap of a man standing, waiting for someone in a dimmed corner of a street, the lack of light gives more drama – that feeling of longing and anticipation. Remember light defines the mood – where it is sunny, it’s best to shoot happy, positive and energetic emotions. Take advantage of light, there are no strict rules. 

emotional photography
Emotional photography by Mohamed El Amin

Never fear what to ‘say’

If you want to tell a disturbing story, go do it – let your photograph speak for you. Set yourself free and be creative. As mentioned earlier, there are thousands of possibilities to show human emotion. Never be scared if yours is a new idea or a daring one. There is so much to capture around us – every feeling you relay leads to someone else’s sense of appreciation, connection and understanding. 

Everywhere is your venue

Whether it’s an image of child a mourning woman or a celebrating team, it depicts a celebration of life. Unlike other forms of photography, you can capture expressive emotional photography shots everywhere. As long as it’s safe and you’re polite, nothing will ever go wrong. 

Raw or post-process

It definitely is all up to you. One thing you have to consider is whether or not boosting the hues; saturation and contrast give more intensity to what the feelings are expressing. Another thing is the power of turning an image into black and white or sepia. Black and white works so well with melancholic, desperate and lonely photographs.

Let the eyes tell it

The human face is beautiful. If you take a look at expressive photos, the best part to have a feel of is the eyes. Make sure that you give importance and emphasis to the window of the soul. Anger, agony, frustration – the eyes depict an aching heart, a wounded spirit. Ecstasy, humor and good are all expressed by these pair of gems as well.

Adding of brief messages

Images accompanied by words are strong voices. Thinking of adding texts to your emotional photos? Do it – as long as you keep it brief and complementary to your image. Always remember not to use too big font size for it might overpower the message of your image. To add, pick the most suitable font color and style. Choosing the right text will surely add more strength, color, connectivity and soul to your photograph.

emotional photography
Emotional photography by Marrz Capanang

Emotional photography may seem not to be for everyone. But, you can make a difference by giving yourself more time to practice without feeling the pressure. As soon as you break free to your own limitations, you become more connected to the many emotive moments around you. From then on, capturing emotional pictures that touch souls will not be such a difficult thing to do.

Next photography lessons:

Photography Intermediate 1: Understanding Camera Metering

Photography Intermediate 2: Photography Tips: How To Choose A Tripod

Photography Intermediate 4: Easy Double Exposure Photography

Photography Intermediate 5: Create a Sense of Depth to Your Shot

Photography Intermediate 6: Maximize the Background in your Composition


About Kristine Buenavista

Tin oftentimes takes her folding bike and old camera along country roads. Sometimes, she forgets to take pictures (though she never forgets when she finds great photos elsewhere). She narrates through words and images here. Travel, creativity, laughter, cerveza negra, scavenge hunt for beauty, starry-windy nights are among the things that make her feel weightless.

View all posts by Kristine Buenavista →

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