Tips on How to Capture Affection in Your Photographs
One of the big challenges in portrait photography is capturing the elusive aspects of life: feelings, smells, and experiences. It’s difficult because a photograph is limited to two dimensions and a single point in time. It only captures what we can see, but we often want it to do more than that.
To make a good photograph, we want to be able to share a sensation or an experience. Fortunately for us, it’s not completely impossible.
One of the great things about humans is that we have a pretty amazing imagination. We can feel the texture of fur just by seeing a photo of it, we can almost smell the sea when we see an evocative picture of it. The challenge is to take a photograph that’s good enough to make the viewer feel what you want them to.
What is affection?
If done right, affection is easier to explain with a picture than in writing – a picture is worth a thousand words and all that. Let me give it a try, though.
Affection is an expression of love and trust, a kind of comfortable tenderness, a warm and confident gaze that doesn’t need to be returned. It’s strength in selflessness and is a very private experience.
Like most other feelings, but perhaps even more so, affection is really hard to fake. It’s often found in the small gestures and mannerisms that have been built over time.
And that’s why it’s so challenging to capture, especially in people you don’t know well.
Why try to capture affection?
So you may be thinking, if it’s so difficult, why bother? What’s the point of struggling to capture something that exists in so many more dimensions than a photograph and that is such an intimate feeling?
First of all, the challenge is a good way to develop as a photographer and a human. It gives you the chance to try to capture something essential, positive, that which will one day be the greatest of memories.
Knowing how to photograph affection is a great way to offer family and friends, as well as customers, amazing images that show something real and beautiful.
How to capture affection
Capturing affection may be a bit difficult, but it’s definitely not impossible. If you’re a professional photographer, one of the challenges is that your models may not know you well enough to be comfortable around you.
Nervousness and discomfort don’t go well with displaying affection. Since you won’t have the time to get to know everyone you’re hired to photograph, you need to find other ways to inspire confidence in your models.
Even knowing someone well doesn’t mean that it’s easy to capture affection. Shyness or awkwardness may sometimes make it even harder to photograph the affection among your friends and family.
One way to get what you want is to catch a special moment without being noticed. This works well at a wedding shoot, a family gathering, or even when doing street photography. The important thing to think about here is consent and whether it’s a situation where it’s okay to take such a photograph.
If you’ve been asked to photograph a couple, or a parent and a child, preparation is important. With just a little bit of effort put into creating a connection and making your models feel comfortable you can go a long way.
Sometimes moving to a place with fewer distractions might help. Other times being surrounded by others is the right thing. You have to read the situation and make the best of it.
Part of preparation is building trust. You can start way before the shoot by getting in touch with your customers and making them confident that you know what you’re doing.
Show them that you can be trusted to capture beautiful memories for them and that you’re there to support them in the quite unusual situation that a photo shoot presents.
And as always, practice makes perfect. You can learn to find and capture special moments by looking in places where you wouldn’t expect to find them. Photography is so much more than just pushing a button. It’s learning to see the world in a different way, learning to understand what you see, and learning to capture it.