AD/PR → This is a brand collaboration. While I have been compensated my opinions are mine and always true to my experience. ♥ Bee
I get asked a lot how do you portray emotion in photos. When it comes to storytelling in photos, showing emotions is super important. It doesn’t necessarily have to be super obvious too, the way I show emotions in my photos is always really subtle, a slight hint in my eye, the way I hold myself, where I place my hands… a lot of thought goes into the poses I do (probably too much) but it works for me!
I believe that portraying the right emotion can make or break a photo and can really add to the atmosphere.
Here’s some things that I wish I knew about emotions and storytelling when I first started out.
What is your vibe?
What type of feeling do you want to give off in your photos? This is a very personal question to be asking yourself, and can often require some experimentation to find out what your ‘vibe’ is and what feeling you want to portray in your photos.
For me, I want my photos to have an ethereal, magical, romantic, fairytale-esque atmosphere, so all of my poses will be pretty elegant, angled and dreamy.
It’s super important that you feel like yourself when you’re doing your poses. If your vibe is more fun, upbeat, and happy then definitely pose that way! You have to let your personality shine through. I’ve tried doing the super happy poses, but it just wasn’t me and was a pretty uncomfortable experience overall. But I had to try them to know that I didn’t like them! This can be a pretty long process, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it straight away!
What do I do with my face?
Your first instinct when a camera is put in front of you may be to look straight down the lens. But for me, I try to stay away from looking directly into the camera unless the photo requires it. (For example, I often do it when I want to ‘breath the fourth wall’)
There are many storytellers and self portrait photographers on Instagram who look directly into the camera in their photos and tell amazing stories and take amazing photos, and if you want to look into the camera then absolutely go for it!
But you will notice in my photos I’m very rarely looking at the camera, which is intentional for two reasons: One, I find it a more flattering angle for me. And two, I feel that it adds to the story and looks more ‘cinematic’, like a moment in time. It gives the impression that there is something going on much more interesting than the camera, something that you cannot see. It adds a lot of interest and mystery to the photo.
No problem! There are so many ways to convey emotion without actually having your face in the photo. I do this a lot for stylistic reasons, as sometimes the anonymity can actually add to the photo.
If you don’t want your face in the photo, then you’re going to want to make use of your arms and your hands – do something with them. Block out the sun with your hand, wave to someone in the distance, reach out your hand to touch something, touch your clothing or accessories – anything! Hands are VERY expressive and can easily tell a story on their own.
How Do I Tell Emotional Stories with Props?
I believe that props tend to stir up emotions/thoughts/memories on their own pretty well, but interacting with a prop can also be super helpful in conveying the tone, and therefore the emotion, of a photo. How is this prop making you feel? Are you happy to have it? Are you feeling nostalgic?
I will live and die on the prop hill, I think they are so valuable to photos and are great if you’re a little awkward in front of the camera as they give you something to channel your channel your energy.
There are so many ways to also get emotion across with different colours , different poses and emulating emotions in your eyes. I will write about all these at some point.
However this is an easy place to start without feeling overwhelmed. Do these things first and then move on to the more complicated things.