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Oxford School of Photography
insights into photography
How to Capture Authentic Emotion in Portrait Photography
July 4, 2013Posted by on
We have just completed another successful Portrait Course with some great students and exceptional images. We teach the technical aspects of portrait photography but also the, as important, working with the subject to get the best out of them, we call it ‘posing and all that’. The next course will be in the autumn but if you want some tips before then this article by Jason D. Little on Lightstalking would be useful to you.
If you shoot portraits on a regular basis, I’m sure you have an informal checklist of sorts that you consult — at least mentally — both before and after you click the shutter. You want to make sure the composition is interesting, the desired part of the face is in focus, the lighting is flattering; all important things, to be sure. And on some level, these are easy things. What’s not always so easy is capturing emotion.
When you’re shooting street shots or candids, capturing genuine emotion isn’t too difficult because you’re recording moments as they happen and your subjects are often unaware of or unconcerned with the camera’s presence. But when it comes to actually posing for a portrait session, getting authentic emotion out of your subject can be a tricky course to navigate. Many otherwise easy-going individual tend to tense up once they get in front of the camera while, on the opposite end of the spectrum, others go overboard with exaggerated smiles or all manner of unpredictable and unflattering facial expressions.
It takes a little effort — mostly in the form of simply being a thoughtful photographer — but getting your subjects to display some unfiltered emotion is certainly an attainable goal and one with a huge payoff. The following tips apply whether your portraits are formal or spur of the moment, for pay or for fun.….MORE
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