FPT: Expression Trumps Perfection

by Reads (200)

Have you ever gotten so caught up in creating the perfect shot that you lose the emotion of the image? If so, you are not alone. Read on for some tips to create an image full of feeling and emotion.

Are any of these situations familiar to you? 

  • You’re caught up in emulating a photographer you admire and try to recreate their work, but the image just doesn’t feel the same.
  • You are flustered with your equipment and loose the “moment.”
  • You spent too much time setting up the shot and your subject got tired or bored. 

When I first became a professional photographer one of the best pieces of advice I got was from another professional photographer. She told me, “Expression over perfection, Laura.” An otherwise perfect image will not speak to your clients like one that is filled with emotion and personality. And she was right. Over the years I have been surprised several times over when a client will choose a less than perfect image as their absolute favorite. The biggest reason for their choice–the image was the embodiment of the subject’s personality. 

Her advise has been a guiding philosophy in the creation of my images. And no matter how seasoned I have become, it’s a pro tip that keeps me connected to my clients. Of course, I always strive to create the perfectly exposed, perfectly sharp, and perfectly perfect image. But when push comes to shove, I will take a great expression over a perfect image any day! 

When you first start shooting, it’s really easy to get caught up in f stops, ISOs and shutter speeds. So here’s a couple of tips to help you refocus your photographic energy into creating work that if full of life and emotion: 

  • Get comfortable with your gear. Whether you are using a pro DSLR or a point-and-shoot camera, it’s important to know how your camera operates and what it’s capable of. If you have to spend your time fiddling with your settings you will end up missing the moment. Your subjects will feed off of your emotions. If you are stressed out or feeling unsure of yourself, they will pick up on that and respond accordingly.
  • Still learning how to use the A,S and M modes? No problem. Use the auto or P mode with no apologies. You don’t get a bigger prize for shooting on manual than you do if you use program mode. It’s much more important to snag that great shot.
  • Interact with you subject. Whether your subject is an animal or an infant, a teen or a bride, it’s important to genuinely connect with them. Get to know your subject. Are they silly, serious, inquisitive or contemplative? If you learn your subject’s personality you will be able to photograph images that they will cherish.
  • Focus on the eyes. If the eyes are the windows to a person’s soul, then make sure they are a prominent feature in your photograph. A subject’s eyes will tell you a lot about their personality. Capitalize on this information to bring more feeling to your imagery.
  • When photographing a subject, make sure you photograph them in a location that makes them comfortable and relaxed. When your subject is relaxed, they will show you their true personality. For kids, I love to photograph them at a park or in their own back yard. Babies love to be in their parents’ arms. Dogs can be happy in lots of situations as long as you supply treats. 

Capturing your subject’s personality will only lead to a higher client satisfaction and, most likely, a bunch of referrals. Not a paid photographer? These tips work the same for your own kids and animals. As always, have a great weekend and go grab that shot!


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