Emotion Trumps Technique

Nikon D4, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 12800, ƒ/1.8, 1/250

The other night I was watching the TV Show The Voice. Nate Ruess was a guest advisor to all the contestants. I remember one comment that stood out the most: “Emotion trumps technique every time.”

Christina Aguilera often advises the other coaches, “Go with your heart!” when trying to make a decision.

Here are a few quotes from famous photographers also talking about the power of emotion and the heart of photos:

“A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it. It is, in a word, effective.”
— Irving Penn

“Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.”
— Yousuf Karsh

“I think that emotional content is an image’s most important element, regardless of the photographic technique. Much of the work I see these days lacks the emotional impact to draw a reaction from viewers, or remain in their hearts.”
— Anne Geddes

“If it makes you laugh, if it makes you cry, if it rips out your heart, that’s a good picture.” — Eddie Adams

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/20

Those who capture emotion by accident will struggle to do it again. However, there are those photographers are in touch with their feelings. They can constantly deliver great photos because they are emotionally aware of themselves and their surroundings.

Emotion, or a feeling, can bring a snapshot out of obscurity and make it shine. Sometimes an expression on the face can help bring this to the photograph. Often the direction of light or color of the light can influence emotions.
Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/4.5, 1/500
Sometimes you need to eliminate things from the photo to strengthen it.
Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 100, ƒ/7.1, 1/60
You can add light as I did here on the Hawaiian Fire Dancer. I used a Alienbees B1600 with a CTO gel and 30º grid to light up the guy. Again, the cool sky helped create a mood. So in this situation, I “created” the mood.
Sometimes you just need to put down the cameras and sit for a few minutes until you feel the mood. Then you need to figure out what visual cues trigger the mood.
Fuji X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/6
Sometimes like here at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter–Diagon Alley at Universal Studios, the costuming and surroundings help create the mood.
In this photo I feel like I am in the World of Harry Potter.
Fuji X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 3200, ƒ/8, 1/500
My daughter’s dress and expressions transported me to Harry Potter’s world.
What you include and exclude can change the whole feeling/mood of the image.
Fuji X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/5.6, 1/125
Fuji X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/40–pop up flash at -1EV
You may remember these two photos I showed in an earlier post. Remember even the time of day will change the mood.