It's Week #44: Emotion

To be shot and submitted between Sunday, Oct 25 and Sunday, Nov 1 (noon, Eastern)

“Photography is all about light, composition and, most importantly, emotion.”

― Larry Wilder

Do our emotions define us, or do we define our emotions? Our anger, our joy, our sadness, our satisfaction – do we feel them because of who we are, or are we who we are because of what we feel?

Emotion is a cornerstone of the human experience. Throughout cultures, throughout history, we all share a common understanding of the ups and downs and triumphs and losses of life. Being human guarantees a ticket on the emotional roller coaster. A full, all-inclusive tour of the gamut of sentiments and sensitivities that touch us all.

And emotion is about connection. A smile, a tear, a scowl – they are universal indicators of our internal monologues. They communicate what words cannot. They are instant, visceral, honest.

Capturing emotion is a fundamental mission of photography. Your challenge this week is to stay attuned to your own emotions, and those of the people around you. This sensitivity will enhance your photographic eye (and your heart!), and help you gain insight into your world.

Tips and Tuts for this week:

  • Decide what emotion you are going to portray and then create a story in your mind that best expresses that emotion.
  • How can you use the light, background, props to enhance the chosen emotion?
  • Remember, eyes are the window to the soul. If you are using a model for this challenge pay special attention to their eyes. Ask them to think of something that makes them happy (light up their eyes) or mad (darken their eyes) or sad (tear up their eyes) or love (soften their eyes). The “eyes” have it!
  • Experiment with how tight your crop is. You may find that a tighter crop, showing more of your model’s face, is more evocative than a wider shot.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out our Emotion album from 2012. Here are some great examples of using models to convey emotion in photographs.

Extra Credit: Studio Lighting

Sure, not everyone has access to a full studio setup in their living rooms. But off-camera flash, fill lighting, soft boxes – and the other gear that come with a studio – are essential tools for taking your professional portrait photography to the next level. If the world of studio photography interests you, this is the week to dip your toes in and see what it’s all about. Here’s a great blog post we’ve written up about using a one-light setup. Here’s another great post about setting up a studio with gear you may already have.
Remember, it is not necessary to work in this Extra Credit piece. It’s extra credit!

Have a challenge idea for 2016?