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Eye Contact in Photography

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In our 10 Ways to Take Stunning Portraits tutorial I talked about ‘Playing with Eye contact’ (point #2) as being one technique to add change the feel of an image.

Today I was flipping through an old photography magazine (called ‘photography focus guide’) and a quote about eye contact in portraits jumped off the page at me:

“Without eye contact, the whole mood of the image changes – the camera is now simply an ‘observer’ and this is a great opportunity to show a subject in a different way.”

I like that quote because it puts words to something I’d been feeling for a while but hadn’t known how to express.

There’s nothing wrong with having your subject look away from the camera (or to have them look down the barrel either) but it does alter the mood and style of your shot. Having it can create real intimacy with the viewer of your shot while not having it can give an image a sense of watching someone without being seen by them.

Do you tend to use eye contact or avoid eye contact in the portraits that you take?

PS: as I was about to hit publish on this it made me think of these two photos that photographer Jasmine Star took of me in a recent photo shoot. Two shots taken within a moment of each other but one with eye contact and one without – creating shots with different feels.

Eye Contact in Photography

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Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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