How To Effectively Add Emotions To Photographs

photogA great photograph is one that conveys emotion.  Adding the element of emotion into a photograph helps it to connect with the viewer.  The most common emotions that are universally felt and most commonly included in photographs include sorrow, despair, joy, and happiness.

The element of emotion can make any photograph with a simple subject stand out.  Just imagine this: if you photograph the setting sun by the beach, you will be sure that many people would appreciate the beautiful scene.  However, if you shoot the scene at a wider angle, you can include a couple holding hands while walking by the beach or some children playing by the shore or a mother and child making sandcastles.  Different individuals will have varying reactions with any of the said scenes.

You can’t really know for certain how each viewer would react to your photograph.  Your photograph is an expression of what you feel and what you view through your camera’s viewfinder.  You can never really control how your viewers will respond to your photograph but if you convey feelings and emotions to your photographs, you can make stronger connections with them.  Here are some tips to make this possible:

photoYour Mood

You can’t deny that your emotional state will have a big impact on the kind and quality of your photographs.  Your mood determines largely your mood and angle for that particular day.  There will certainly be days when you will feel like you just don’t have it even after shooting tons of photographs while there will be times when you just know that you are on your element.

What you feel will likely be mirrored or would come through in your photographs.  If you feel that you just don’t have it on certain days, just lay down your camera and relax.  If you feel that it is one of your upswing days, make the most out of it.  Besides, with the advent of digital cameras, you will never worry about film costs and you can shoot and shoot as much as you want.  Just make sure that you bring extra memory cards or memory sticks for your camera.  Before you take a photo, always ask yourself about the kind of emotion that you want to convey.


It would always be wise to set down your camera every once in a while and take time to observe the scene and people around you.  If you are too preoccupied with your camera, you may be missing out on some interesting subjects around you.  If you are shooting, you are in some sort of a bubble which you need to break out from every once in a while.  If you stop for a while, relax, and observe, you can have a better feel of your surroundings.

girlIf you return to subjects you have previously taken photos of, the same place will certainly have a different feel on various days, times, and weather conditions.  Your personal mood and the mood of the place can also change.  If you return to a certain location you have photographed before and you keep an open mind, you will find that the feel of place and the characters are different from what you have previously perceived.

Focusing on Faces

This is quite obvious but many photographers avoid doing this when they are in a situation where they are amidst strangers.  In such situation, it would always be good to ask the permission of strangers, as much as possible, especially when you plan to take a head shot.  Keep in mind that if you want to capture them as naturally as possible, don’t let your mood become that obvious as it could influence their moods also.

You can simply raise your eyebrow and point to your camera to signify your asking permission from them.  Chances are, if you smile hugely, your subjects may think that you want them to smile in the picture.  If your demeanor is neutral, you can increase the chances of them conveying the emotion that they wish.  For example, it is likely that your subjects living a hard life will not smile and their faces will tell the story of their hardships.  Whatever the emotions of your subjects are, always keep in mind the importance of getting a sharp focus on their eyes.

…hope this has been useful,

Ray Baker