Hi Guys and Gals.
I recently did a portrait session with the lovely Jessica Golota and posted a few of the images on Facebook. A few people commented. One comment that stood out was a comment about this photo. The person asked why I did not have more contrast in the image between the background and the subject?
The reason is simple. I wanted the viewer’s eye drawn towards Jessica’s face. When you look at a portrait you want your subject’s eyes to meet with the eyes of your viewer. This will give life to the portrait and make the viewer feel like they are connecting with the subject on some level.
This idea works well with most portraits where you want the viewer to connect directly with the subject as opposed to editorial or story telling portraits.
You often see story-telling portraits in wedding photos, editorial magazine photography, street photography, and romance book covers.
When the subject is not directly looking out at the viewer, they might be looking down or somewhere in the distance. Those photos are classified as story-telling images. It is as if the viewer has stepped into a scene as a voyeur. They are more connected with the story than with the subject.
If you want your viewer to connect directly with the subject of your portrait you should concentrate on focusing their attention on the eyes of your subject.
One way to do this is to darken the area on the edges of your photo to create a vignette that will draw the viewer’s attention in towards your subject. Or, as in this case, use similar colors and tones on any element in your photo that will draw the viewer’s eyes away from the face.
It’s okay to make the background busy as long as the colors and tones match the clothing of your subject. If you have ever been into a casino you will see examples of how casino owners use busy textures on the floor and ceiling to draw your eye down, or up, to the machines. Your eyes move towards a resting spot. In this case the resting spot is Jessica’s face and smile.
Portrait photography is an art. And, as with all art, there are no hard and fast rules. This is just one of the ideas I have that may help you to take better photos.
Take care. Until next time.