Photographing people has always come natural to me since the early days of my well spent youth as a stringer for AP, UPI, and being a Black Star photographer. Whether it be simple portraits or including a lot of the environment surrounding them, I’m in my comfort zone.
Over the years as one of the instructors for the BPSOP, an online photography school, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I often see portraiture submitted. More often than not my fellow photographers will usually have the subject looking away; that’s fine but they’re missing something important…what you say?
I teach two classes with the BPSOP and they’re about how to incorporate the Elements of Visual Design into your imagery; the most important of all the elements being Line.
With Line, none of the other elements would exist. Three of them: Pattern, Texture, and Shape all require Line to be elements. In fact planes, trains, automobiles, and even you and I couldn’t exist because we all have an outLine.
There are lines and then there are implied lines, and these types of lines are what’s important in portraiture…WHAT?
These implied lines are merely suggestions and not directly revealed to the viewer. To me, the implied line between the subject’s eyes and the camera’s lens is very powerful; I’m looking past their conscious thought and right into their soul; of course without stealing it!!!
I feel a bond has been created, and a trust arises from the subject willing to look me straight in the eye. That said, there’s one time when I DO want them looking away from the camera.
When you place the subject close to the edge of the frame you’re creating Visual Tension. When you have them looking out of the frame at that point you’re implying content outside of the frame. In other words you’re suggesting to the viewer that there’s more to the story that meets the eye; the viewer will wonder what he/she is looking at.
This makes the viewer an active participant and he will stick around looking longer…isn’t that what you want?
Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out new workshops as I add them in 2018. Come shoot with me sometime. I have two spots left in my joint workshop with William Yu to photograph the tribal villages and rice terraces in China
Send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.