Exercise- Eye Contact and Expression

For this exercise, set up a portrait session in which the face is prominent (and so perhaps head-and-shoulders or torso), and over the course of the shooting direct your subject to, at times, look towards you and at others away.

I wanted to capture a natural portrait session for this exercise, and so I decided to use a baby. This ensured that the images were completely candid, and enabled me to naturally capture the subject looking towards and away from the camera. It also provided me with a challenge, as I have never carried out a baby photo shoot before! Obviously with this subject it was much harder to capture the child looking towards the camera than away from it. This would be the complete opposite in an adult portrait session, as most people naturally associate photography with ‘smiling at the camera’, and so therefore need more encouragement to relax in order for a natural ‘looking away from the camera shot’ is achieved. In this shoot, I used a simple fluffy blanket as a backdrop, and added variety to the images by using a little red hat.

{Subject looking away from the camera}

We see from these two shots that there are varieties of different degrees of ‘looking away from the camera’. In image one baby Lucas is looking completely away from the camera- probably as far away as one would want the subject to be looking whilst still having the full face visible. On one hand, this provides a strong candid shot, but on the other hand, the connection between the subject and the viewer is strongly lacking. Image two shows how the subject is looking in the exact direction of the camera- but his gaze seems to fall just short, so that he is looking at his hands placed just below the lens. This provides an equally candid looking shot, yet the direction of the eyes, and the way in which the subject’s body is angled towards the camera provides a stronger connection between the subject and the viewer than the previous image.

Image 1-

13 (2)

Image 2-

28 (2)

{Subject looking towards the camera}

Again, from the following two shots we see two varying examples of the subject looking towards the camera. In image three we see that the subject is staring directly into the lens, and is smiling. In comparison with this, in image four the subject is staring into the lens, but has a very serious expression. The connection with the viewer in both images is strong, however the feel of both images is very different. The simple smile in image three provides a stark contrast with the serious expression in image four. This shows how an expression can completely change the feel of an image. Both these shots were taken in the same room with the same background, lighting, and subject, and yet the difference between the two is simply a pose and an expression. This is a simple way of capturing a variety of different shots in a photo session.

Image 3-

24 (2)

Image 4-

IMG_8650 (2)

From this exercise I have learnt how simple techniques, such as instructing the subject to look toward and away from the camera, can create very different results. I have also learnt that a subject’s expression can dramatically change an image; and is a basic way to add variety when using a plain background.


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