Capturing emotions – some tips from a photographer

The New Stork Times cover

I am really excited to be featured on the New Stork Time’s title cover for February – a wonderful wintery image of a little girl throwing snow up in the air in the village of Sattel. In this edition I also wrote about capturing emotions and some tricks I use to do this. Here is the article below just in case you aren’t yet a subscriber… :-)


February is of course renowned for being the month of love with the whole world celebrating Valentine’s Day.  According to Wikipedia, the day was established by a Pope in 500 AD and it is traditionally the day on which flowers, cards and chocolates are given to loved ones.

As a photographer, my role is to capture emotion all year round and to create the right circumstances so that people feel comfortable showing me the love and affection they have for each other – whether its between a child and its parent, siblings, a couple on their wedding day or even a dog and its owner – love after all has so many faces.

Evoking emotion and capturing the love families have for each other is a real joy for me and there are many “tricks” I use to create the conditions for it.  The key is to get people to relax in front of you and to let the shoot unfold.  Before every shoot, I like to discuss what key images clients would like: usually having a coffee and a chat beforehand helps everyone relax and makes people realise that I, like them, am a parent with children who occasionally misbehave… in fact it’s usually the unexpected things which happen on a shoot which parents love later when looking back at their images at the viewing – even the face their child made whilst having a tantrum!

The shoot is a process during which people need time to relax in front of the camera and the first photographs are probably not going to be the favourites as adults and shy children will still be self-conscious – the significant shots come later on.

Depending on the ages of the children I am photographing, my bag of tricks includes anything from asking children what their favourite food is to talking about Star Wars and Dora the Explorer.  Asking children to look for the frog in my lens (it really works although their looks can be a little intense sometimes!) or asking them to repeat silly things after me also help.  With older children, jokes usually work as well as the question to teens about whether they have a girl or boyfriend…

For adults, it’s much the same – to get them to relax I sometimes explain why I am posing them the way I am and for example what effect a reflector or natural light has on their eyes.

For families, I always like to show love and interaction and again there are many ways to do this for it to look natural – whispering secrets is a lovely way as well as tickling shots.  Piggy-backs with children hugging and kissing above their parents are fun and swinging children make for great interactive shots.

On a slightly different note, a special gift for a loved one is boudoir photography for women – this is a fun, confidence-boosting shoot and take place in an elegant hotel room with a make-up and hair stylist (and champagne!)  The shoot is about the experience for the woman and of course the discreet yet tasteful images at the end for just her or a partner – a win-win!

Personally, what I LOVE is when a mother gets emotional the first time she sees the images from a portrait shoot at a viewing presentation (I must admit I usually have a tear in my eye too) – and then I know I have managed to capture the precious essence of a family and their history.

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