Written by Christa Meola, NYC Photographer
Capturing emotion in my photographs has become my trademark, and I love sharing simple tips on how you can do this too! Creating emotion in your photographs is all about capturing authenticity, movement, sensuality and mood, not a pose that’s static where the subject is disconnected from the moment. Here are a few techniques to get you started…
For real women who have never professionally modeled before, it’s easier for her to be real and look natural when you offer her an action to perform instead of asking for a “pose.” An action such as “toss your hair, shake your booty, kick up your leg,” etc. looks more emotive then when someone’s just standing there wondering what to do. Make sure to coach her to push the action to the extreme. Coach her to “Kick that leg higher! and shake that booty faster!!”
SHOOT THE IN-BETWEEN MOMENTS
Unplanned outtakes are awesome. That’s the good stuff! When your client falls over or cracks up, make sure to capture it! Those are often the most beautiful, honest, emotional, moments. You can even try telling her that you’re doing a light test, so she drops her guard.
IT’S ALL IN THE EYE-LINE!
I like to avoid eyes looking directly at camera. This is my personal taste. I don’t select a lot of images with eyes looking directly into the camera – it takes me out of the voyeuristic feel. I personally feel more emotion from the moment when she’s looking down at her body, at the light source, or has her eyes closed. In fact, coaching “eyes closed and a slight smile” always works!
CAPTURE REAL LAUGHTER
The more you laugh and crack yourself up, the more she laughs. Use her nervous energy to work for you. Tease your subject in a good way. Ask for fake laughter and it usually ends up in real laughter. Nobody can fake laugh without feeling like a total ass, so it always provokes real laughter from both of us. Just make sure you press the shutter while you’re doubling over 🙂
RELAXING EVEN THE STIFFEST CLIENTS
If your client is not present and totally nervous, a great way to have her regroup and reconnect with herself is to ask her to “close your eyes, relax, breathe, run your hands along your body and make yourself feel good.” This action alone provokes TONS of different emotions and lots of great shots. Or conversely, get her moving a TON! Coach a ton of actions to exhaust her. Have her jump up and down on the bed and do hair flips like mad. Give her some props to play with and take the focus off of her so she’ll start having fun. If nothing is working, shoot a lot of body shots and details, and move on to the next tip…
ADD THE FAN!
The fan is a MUST-HAVE on set. This is the most fool-proof way to add emotion when all else fails! Turn a fan on, blow it towards your client and watch the emotion pour out of her — or just look like it is 🙂 Trust me on this and just try it. The fan creates motion and sensuality, even when sometimes it’s not there.
EDIT FOR EMOTION
Lastly and most importantly: choose the shot that makes you FEEL SOMETHING even if it is not the best choice technically. Be ruthless and edit out all the shots that don’t elicit any emotion. You’ll know the ones to keep when you feel it.
Now go out there and create a bit of FUN and a ton of EMOTION!
About Christa Meola
Check out Christa’s New ONLINE Boudoir Photography Workshop! Launching Jan 2nd – get more info here and be notified when registration opens. Christa Meola has previously shared her expertise on boudoir photography at ParnterCon 2010, Pictage U: Boudoir and Lighting, and is a speaker at ParnterCon 2011. Her boudoir business is based in NYC, while Christa travels extensively teaching workshops, as well as just finished a book for the Boudoir Photographer called “Exposed: Redefining Boudoir.” For more info, visit www.ChristaMeola.com. See more blog posts by Christa on The Photo Life.