Face Expressions – The Nuance For Great Photos

The Summerall Guards perform during half time at the football game during Parent’s Weekend at The Citadel in Charleston, SC. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 S, Sigma TC-2001, ISO 1000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
Knowing your subject gives you insights to what makes a better photo than just any photo.

My son was a Summerall Guard at the Citadel in the class of 2011. During this time I took more photos of them performing and started to see these moments that I thought gave you insights into how they communicate during a silent drill.

The Summerall Guards perform during half time at the football game during Parent’s Weekend at The Citadel in Charleston, SC. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 S, Sigma TC-2001, ISO 450, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
One thing I noticed was the face expressions showed them counting to themselves or when they breathed loudly so those around them would hear. This let them all know if they were together in their counts and their moves.

The Summerall Guards perform during half time at the football game during Parent’s Weekend at The Citadel in Charleston, SC. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 S, Sigma TC-2001, ISO 450, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
The Summerall Guard was formed in 1932. Membership is considered a high honor at the military college. The platoon’s purpose is to exemplify, through a unique series of movements based on the old German close order drill, the exactness and thoroughness with which a cadet is trained. The drill, is performed to a silent count. Each year’s Guards take responsibility for teaching the next year’s unit the precise drill.

The Citadel’s (19) Dominique Allen quarterback passes while Mercer’s (23) Will Coneway Line Backer defends in game during Parent’s Weekend in Charleston, SC. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 S, Sigma TC-2001, ISO 2000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
In sports very similar predictable moments happen as well. I know that if I am covering a team like The Citadel they are trying to get to the goal that they are facing. So even on defense if a fumble or interception happens the players will try and go towards the goal.

The Citadel’s (29) Grant Drakeford A-Back is tackled by Mercer’s (3) Stphen Houzah Defensive Back during game in Charleston, SC. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 S, Sigma TC-2001, ISO 900, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
I like to stand or kneel in the endzone which they are going so that I can see their faces. If I am on the sideline I sometimes get their faces, but when I am face on to them the percentage of photos with their faces seems to be a lot better for photos.

The Citadel’s (42) Brandon Berry B-Back is tackled by Mercer’s (6) Jamar Hall Defensive back during game on Parent’s Weekend in Charleston, SC. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 S, Sigma TC-2001, ISO 1600, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
Their extra effort on the play will be them lunging towards the goal line, which is where I am standing.

The Citadel’s (62) Jonathan Cole Offensive Line makes a hole for (42) Brandon Berry B-Back while Mercer’s (95) Blake Oliveira Defensive Lineman reaches for tackle during game in Charleston, SC. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 S, Sigma TC-2001, ISO 1100, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
The holes that the offensive linemen are creating for the running backs is facing that goal line.

The Citadel’s (18) Cam Jackson A-Back is tackled by Mercer’s (5) Malique Flemming Defensive Back pursues him during game for Parent’s Weekend in Charleston, SC. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 S, Sigma TC-2001, ISO 1400, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
Even if they are stopped, which is most of the time, the expression on their faces shows that often they are putting it all on the line. This type of a tackle photo when the guy just got a first down works well on sports pages.

As you can see in both the examples of the Citadel cadets that if they are on the Summerall Guards or if they are playing a sport it is the face expression that draws the audience into the photograph.

What you are wanting to show as the photographer is the effort and one of the best ways to capture this is in the expressions.

Go here to see more of my photos from The Citadel during Parent’s Weekend.

By the way were were at The Citadel due to request for my wife Dorie Griggs to preach on Sunday. Here is her message if you would like to hear it.

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