Capturing Emotion

November 19, 2014

It has been said that an emotional experience is actually the point of artistic expression. How a photograph looks is a powerful part of creating a great visual; but how it makes you feel is what I consider the most important aspect. Capturing emotion breathes life into the photo and it is what I love to do.

Capturing Emotions

It’s no surprise that I’m a visual guy. In fact, I have difficulty expressing my emotions through words. So I create pictures that can express visually, what I have difficulty expressing verbally. Consider this photo of Edward that I shot in a studio in Milan, Italy. He’s an unconventional local gentleman that I met through a friend only a few minutes before shooting the photo.  His expressive eyes and his radiating smile are contagious. His appearance is unique but completely unpretentious. His charming and inviting manner puts a smile on my face every time I look at him.

Along with all the other important elements of a good photo, the image has to be emotive. It has to move me. The visual components must combine in a way that evokes some raw or hidden feeling. On some level, the photo has to reach out and grab me.

This photo of Sylvie that I shot in St Croix is intrusive. We are witnessing a distraught young woman in the midst of an emotional collapse. Although her story is a mystery, you can’t avoid reacting to her sorrow. Discomfort arises in the uninvited viewers of her sadness. However, her painful display contrasted against the beautifully textured walls and floor of this old fort in soft, warm lighting keeps our gaze lingering.

Capturing Emotions

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Stuart. How much happiness can one person portray just standing alone on a pier?  In this case apparently quite a lot. Stuart’s expression of exhilaration is a wonderful surprise. His sheer joy of being who he is at this moment in his life is refreshing and inspirational.  His opened armed position exudes humble confidence in a man who has learned how to live long, live well, and live happily. And the quiet solitude of the lake is the perfect backdrop to frame the beautiful experience of his wonderful life.

Capturing Emotions

It’s the emotional aspect of art that engages you. It gives you a way to connect with the story being told in the photo and quietly asks you for your own interpretation and reaction.

I think that a photograph is often a mirrored reflection of the artist himself. In the hands of a skilled artist, his or her work can reveal their innermost feelings. That is why I open myself up to experience the moment I’m photographing in order to illustrate the emotions accurately and effectively. It means that I have to allow myself to be vulnerable. I embrace the connection with my subject and in turn, I hope I am creating a photograph that in addition to capturing emotion, is visually honest in its portrayal.

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