Photographing Feelings: How to Evoke Real Emotion in Your Subjects

Photography is the art of capturing a perfect moment in time. It should be inspiring, evocative, life-affirming… This is especially true of pictures that portray people. They ought to act as a looking glass into another life, sharing a second that matters, that has the power to make us feel.

To achieve this, there’s a secret every photographer needs to know: it’s only authentic emotion that has the ability to truly evoke deep and meaningful reactions in the viewer. Here are three top tips to help you capture this in your content.

Know where to go

In our ordinary, everyday lives, it’s fair to say most of us wear a mask before the world: one that keeps away all of the emotions we don’t want people to see. In the workplace, in the supermarket, and in the school playground, we don our most acceptable faces and push all of our unwanted feelings back inside. Yet there are certain places that provoke more passionate reactions in us, and these are where you want to visit with your camera. Casinos are a perfect example because of the intense reactions the results of games of chance (or even skill) can cause to players. If you’ve ever visited a page like this one, picked out a slot, and placed yourself at the mercy of fickle fortune, you’ll understand just how intense each figurative (or literal) roll of the dice can be, and online casinos’ bricks-and-mortar alternatives produce exactly the same reactions. Inside their walls, at the racetrack, at music festivals, and even on the football field, people feel everything. Make sure you’re present to capture it.

Snap people doing something they love

It’s not only where you go that will open up the perfect opportunities to capture emotions: it’s also finding and photographing people whilst they’re caught up in doing something they’re really passionate about. It doesn’t matter what this is – whether it’s horse riding, hiking, or even video gaming – so long as the individuals in your images care about what they’re doing. Try to capture as many diverse feelings as you can: the anger and frustration when a sportsman experiences failure; the bright and vibrant joy of a BMXer as they nail that perfect landing. These are the sorts of images your viewers will really be able to relate to.

Capture relationships 

The things we’re passionate about are the things that make us feel, and these include the special relationships we have with our family, friends, and even pets. There are few emotions in life that compare to the love a parent has for their child, the loyalty between best friends, or the unbridled happiness of a man walking his dog in the sunshine, his canine companion bounding at his side. These sorts of feelings come naturally, and such moments often manifest most successfully on film not when the photographer instructs their subjects, but when they simply leave them to be together, interacting in a way that’s entirely organic. So long as you have your camera out and ready to capture them, you’ll find the results are unparalleled in their authenticity and emotional power.

Follow these three top tips, and the results should be some of the finest and most evocative images you’ve ever produced.