Light brings life to a photo

When you look at portfolios of photographers pay close attention to the subjects eyes.We have heard it said over and over the eyes are the windows to the soul.

I had an earlier post talking about genuine smiles and that the place to see if they were genuine was not the mouth, but rather the eyes.  Here is that post.

Professional model Tyra Banks said the mistake with many models is smiling with their mouth and not their eyes.

This is available light.  Look at the eyes and how even with a good expression they just don’t pop.

Now if the model is doing everything right the photo can still fall apart. Why? You must be able to see someone’s eyes to really connect with them.  A good photographer will know this and do all they can to be sure your audience is connecting with the subject.

There are many photographers who are not storytellers.  They just see your subjects as objects.  They may even be really strong graphic images with great color, but the audience is not identifying with the subject.

Here the only difference with the photo above is a fill light was used which helped give a catchlight in the eyes and softened the shadows.
Take the time and look to see if the photos you are being shown have life in the eyes. A “catchlight’ is simply the highlight of a light source reflected off the surface of the eye. This highlight adds depth and dimension to the eye, and gives the eyes life in a portrait or snapshot.
Now not having catchlight is not required and sometimes actually hurts the photo.  If you are telling a story and you need the subject to look sinister or like a vampire, be sure not to have catchlight and you will create that negative tension that you want.  
As long as you know you are not using catchlights for some reason that is OK, it is when you are not making a conscious decision that you diminish your message without knowing.
While the exposure is OK notice how difficult it is to see the eyes.

There are times when the process of adding a catchlight is not possible.  There maybe a technical reason it cannot be done without actually creating other problems.  In photography and communications there are often trade-offs.

While it takes more effort to introduce the fill light, notice the black skirt now has some detail as well as the eyes having that catchlight.

After looking at these photos maybe you are now more aware of what to look for when evaluating photos.

These tips are the differences that can take your storytelling to the next level. Not being aware of them and having your audience know the difference can make you look amateurish and we don’t won’t that do we.

Good exposure as well as a good expression on the subject.  Can you see his eyes?

Notice again how the photographer has added a fill light that opened up the face and helps you see the eyes.