How To Create Emotions In Your Photos - Carla Coulson
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How To Create Emotions In Your Photos

How To Create Emotions In Your Photos

Portrait of Kate Taylor Stylist shot at 1/50 sec

Copyright Carla Coulson

 

Dear Photographers and Lovers of Life,

Though portraiture can look easy, creating a connection with your subject can sometimes be a challenge. Many people have a chronic fear of being photographed in particular I have found women to be more sensitive than men.

I have worked with models and loads of people on the street and I have noticed the great images come from those that have ‘let go’, the ones that have no fear, that are willing to play, to make an idiot of themselves and ‘to dance as though no-one is watching’.

Emotion doesn’t come just from the eyes and the face, our bodies are a vital part of the emotional story. The way we place our hands, our heads, the ‘shape we create with our body’, how we sit and the movement of our body tells its own story. If your body is tense, the camera sees it.

How To Create Emotions In Your Photos

Fashion shoot – movement shot at 1/500 sec 

Copyright Carla Coulson

 

I am a fan of all emotion, it can be happiness, joy, frustration, questioning, fear, what is important is that in an image there is real ‘connection’ and this comes through in the photo. Our job as a photographer is to create this connection, it isn’t enough to have a pretty photo with nice light and nice composition and a dead subject!

So if your subject is paralysed with fear or doesn’t know how to pose (who does) then YOU dear photographer need to charm them, to put them at ease, make the experience fun and have a secret booty of poses that will make anyone look good. Think about an appropriate emotion that will give strength to the story you want to tell.

How To Create Emotions In Your Photos

Market worker Palermo Italy shot using low aperture such as F2.8 and and Greek Lady Amorgos

Copyright Carla Coulson

HERE’S WHAT I DO – ON THE STREET

  1. I always talk with my subjects before whipping out the camera. Make small chat about the fruit, weather or ask directions.
  1. I buy something small like fruit or veg and then ask can I take a photo.
  1. I ask my subject to do something ‘as an action’ so they are occupied and I have the chance of getting a natural looking shot. I ask them to do it over again till I have want I want.
  1. I say dumb stuff that makes them laugh.
  1. I love when the person I am shooting suggests something, you never know what might happen.
  1. I know what I want before I shoot so I will ask them to do that, chat with them, flirt with them to get the emotion that I think is possible.

 

How To Create Emotions In Your Photos

Portrait shot at 1/15 sec

Copyright Carla Coulson

How To Create Emotions In Your Photos

Portrait shot at 1/15 sec

Copyright Carla Coulson

 

IN A PORTRAIT SHOOT

  1. Portraiture is all about trust. If someone trusts you then they will do what you ask them to do even if it sounds strange.
  2. I build trust, I speak with my clients before the shoot and listen to their ideas.
  3. I work towards a combined vision so the client feels part of it and is excited about the shoot
  4. I make sure they are an ideal client.. How do I know this? Most of their emails start with ‘Hi Carla, I really love your work…’ for me this is the first sign of trust and means we can have a great time together.
  5. I never get the camera out straight away, I always talk to them and make them feel like they are hanging out with a friend.
  6. The first shot depending on the person, I will ask them to do something really simple that takes their mind off me.
  7. I never ask them to stand simply on their own (the hardest thing for a non-model to do)
  8. As I feel like they are gaining confidence I get gamer and gamer with my requests!!!

 

How To Create Emotions In Your Photos

Making silly comments to Sonia Choquette this is her reaction

Copyright Carla Coulson

TECHNICAL TIPS

  1. I love to use slow shutter speeds. I ask my subject to do simple movements and it can create magic. See top shot. 1/50 sec
  2. I get them moving, using a shutter speed of 1/500 sec so that I can freeze their movement and get them walking or running.
  3. Low depth of field can create beautiful emotion and isolate your subject from the background
  4. I am not afraid of a really slow shutter speed to create purposeful camera shake and blur.
  5. If I know I want to say something silly I make sure I am ready to go, know my shutter speed and have my client in focus.

 

How To Create Emotions In Your Photos

left Horsing around with Wayne Chick– right shot for Cestmarobe getting my model moving

Copyright Carla Coulson

I hope this helps you working with people and creating emotions in your photos.

“Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you.” Roger Ebert

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2 Comments
  • That’s so interesting. I’m just learning how to use a camera and would love to learn to photograph people effectively. I’ll try some of your tips.

    January 31, 2017 at 12:33 pm
  • Great advice all. Who knows, maybe I will embrace blur. It seems to come so naturally!!!!

    January 31, 2017 at 2:46 pm