I believe you will agree that the most memorable photos are those that depict people and their emotions. It is not a secret that emotions are the most powerful tool of a portrait photographer, because our facial expressions serve as a universal language understood by people from different countries.
What do we need?
Camera. You can take a 35 mm SLR camera or a point-and-shoot, both will suit. Our aim is to capture the moment that will never recur and we can do it with any camera.
Lens. A small telephoto lens (85-135 мм) is the best choice for posed portraits, while a long telephoto lens suits better for street photography.
Look for emotions everywhere
There are different situations, when people show their emotion. We can observe fury, astonishment, surprise, embarrassment. Such events as weddings, birthdays or family parties are full of joy and happiness. Sports competitions are another good example of events where you can see a full scale of people’s emotions – mood of a crowd changes very fast depending on the game changes.
A wide range of emotions gives an everyday life as well. Even a simple prom along the street can be very useful if you are attentive and have your camera prepared to shoot. You can shoot people greeting each other, couples in love, hugging or kissing people, the olds talking at the street corner, playing children, furious car drivers. Spend some time observing people and you will see emotions everywhere.
Don’t smile – Hidden cam
If you shoot a passer-by, it is probably better to remain unnoticed when you try to capture his/her emotions. Wait for a good moment and shoot quickly so nobody could understand what is happening. A telephoto lens that allows to shoot from the a distance will help you a lot in this situation. A 200 mm lens is a good choice.
A wide-angle lens can be useful if you shoot close up images in the crowd. That will help you to stay unnoticeable. That is important to be ready to press a shutter button at the right moment. To make a portrait more expressive, set a camera at f/4 or f/5.6 – then the background will be out-of-focus. Read more about Candid photography here.
Shooting portraits in the studio
When you shoot portraits in a more formal surrounding, you will have to do something to evoke emotions of your model. That is much better than to wait for something to happen. Professional sitters can easily change their emotions, but there are people who are not so expressive and the photographer should help them.
Contact between the photographer and the model is the key to success. Facial expression of a person photographed depend a well deal on what you are talking about, so try to learn what are his/her interests, what does s/he like, dislike, what makes him/her upset. If a person is fond on animals, you can evoke positive or negative emotions depending on what you will say about animals.
Conversation is also important because it helps the model forget about the camera. Many people feel very nervous, when they are photographed, but if they stop thinking about the camera, they feel more at ease and it is a chance to capture their natural expressions.
Catch the moment and shoot portraits, when people feel high – when they got good news, or wan a prize or decided to get married. In such situation you don’t need to do much to evoke emotions.
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