How To - Create A Photo That Captures A Feeling
One thing that makes a photo 'great' is the ability to convey an emotion. Often, landscape photos can be beautiful but nothing more than that; they can be empty with no feeling to connect the viewer. Here are some tips on how to create a shot that expresses emotion and communicates more than just a beautiful scene:
The ability to convey emotion through any medium is often what sets the exceptional artists apart from the good ones. Whether music, moving pictures, words, or in my case a still shot, being able to arouse feelings in the receiver is an incredible skill. Emotions are subjective and will be different between all viewers. While the photographer has a lot of power when it comes to deciding what kind of emotion to try to evoke, ultimately it's up to the viewer to interpret it.
Some of the emotions you can try to capture in your photography include:
- Wanderlust. Dreamy, motion-filled scenes.
- Solitude. Isolation. Space. Distant subjects.
- Happiness & Joy. Facial emotion. Golden hour.
- Awe or Beauty. Incredible landscapes. Vast landscapes. Angles. Scale.
- Calmness. Reflections. Still, motionless scenes.
- Vulnerability. Feelings of being overwhelmed. Rugged mountains, rough seas, cascading waterfalls.
- Tighten the scene. Crop out elements that don't help you convey your feeling.
- Focus on faces. Faces hold, and express, a lot of emotion.
- Think then shoot. Understand what you're trying to convey before doing anything.
- Look for energy and motion. When shooting people, we want them to stand out and be the main aspect of the image. All the other elements we capture in the photo will help bring attention to the main focus, the subject (person). The following examples highlight this concept, while I've included a small explanation as to the method I adopted for each.
Example 1 - Location: Windin Falls, Queensland, Australia
Take this example that follows. The image was taken in north Queensland at a spot called Windin Falls, known for its incredible infinity pool. I encouraged Madison to enter the water and lay on her back in this position to spark a sense of wanderlust and curiosity. When people look at this image, the feeling they get is that they want to transport to this place and try it themselves. If I had shot this image without her in the pool below, the images would have been boring and lacking the human element to give it the story.
Windin Falls, Queensland, Australia. (Image courtesy of Harrison Candlin)
Example 2 - Location: Tully Gorge National Park, Queensland, Australia
This next image was taken near Tully Gorge National Park in north Queensland. This image definitely has subjective feelings which could be vulnerability from the heat and radiance of the sun, solitude of the distant sun setting below the horizon, or even calmness with the symmetry. You pick!
Tully Gorge National Park, Queensland, Australia. (Image courtesy of Harrison Candlin)