Thursday, January 28, 2010

Capturing Personality


Personality: the visible aspect of one's character as it impresses others...a collection of qualities...the essential character...the atmosphere of a place or thing *
Personality, where photography is concerned, is that invisible quality that sets your photograph out from all the rest. It moves it out from being just a snapshot. It draws the viewers eye into the image, gives it atmosphere, and leaves an impression.

Lots of subjects have personality. It is not limited to just people and pets, but can be found in houses, buildings, even cities. Natural landscapes have personality, as do gardens and wildlife or flowers. I would phrase it this way. Personality is when I can photograph a single flower yet make someone feel like they've seen the entire garden.

Grace and Beauty

1. Physics

The interaction between your subject, the camera lens, and the surrounding environment is the biggest factor in conveying its personality. This means the feel of the light, the expression of the subject, and its motion (or lack thereof). It is all of these things together that create the magnetism unique to that object.

2. Patience and Persistence

You will most likely never walk out the door and snap one perfect photograph. No, it takes both patience, taking photographs over and over again, and lots of time. For instance, I have photographed my dog for many hours. Yet, her personality in its entirety cannot be seen in just one photograph. Instead, it is all of them put together.



3. Point of View

As I previously said, personality will not be found in just one photograph. It will take many points of view. Always put yourself at your subject's "eye" level. For shorter subjects (pets, children, flowers), kneel down. For taller ones (architecture or landscapes), stand up and back. Don't forget to go in for close ups as well as taking wider angle views. The life of an object is seen in the details as well as generality.


Pickerel Weed

4. Passion

Never discount the power of the emotions - those of both the subject and the viewer. In photographing people, pets, or wildlife there are a wide variety of possible emotions - happiness, sadness, and anger. But with inanimate objects or scenic images it is perhaps a bit more difficult. Frustration and sadness can be conveyed through a view of a dirty street or an unkempt room. Soft light filtering through a window or the blur of gently running water communicates peace and harmony.

Photos by Joel Combee


Photographs are powerful things, evoking the past to those in the future. A certain picture of my grandmother's table set with leftover lunch dishes never fails to take me back to her house. Viewing the happy faces of pets long gone brings them back into my heart like they were here yesterday. Yet, it is not just the faces or the scenes that call up these feelings. It is that the photographer caught the essence of that moment in time, its personality.

The Old Girl, Melody, Pekingnese


If you'd like to see more of my photographs, visit my Webshots. If you'd like to read more of what I have to say, visit my personal blog.

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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

1 comment:

Carla Gade said...

Great examples and tips on capturing personality. Those kids are adorable. I enjoyed your webshots, too. Loved that squirrel and the cat in the window.