Archive for Exercise 5

Eye contact and expression

Posted in Project work with tags on February 17, 2010 by Judy Bach

First attempt.The brief for this exercise is to organise a portrait sitting and direct my subject to look away, or towards me, during the session. I have had very little time to get much done so I decided to take advantage of a family party to get some shots , but using more than one subject,  to make a start with the exercise . I plan to also take some more shots for the exercise, using just one subject.  I feel eyes are an important part of portraiture and I very rarely compose an image without trying to get my subject to make eye contact with me. Therefore this is an interesting exercise for me to see if I can create a reasonable portrait without eye contact.   I was able to shoot quite easily as everybody knew each other, this makes it slightly easier to be comfortable taking pictures than directing a total stranger. I also took some of the shots opportunistically if the facial expression or stance  looked interesting.

28—75 Lens used which made it easy for me to frame quickly as I mingled, alas no tripod ! Speedlite with diffuser used throughout ,+ I also shot at more than 1/200  to ensure my images were kept sharp enough and freeze any movement . Indoors for all photographs. A total of 100 images taken ——whittled down to 30 acceptable ones , of which just a few fitted the criteria for the exercise . A problem of photographing a gathering like this is that I have no control over the location, or background, but have to use what is available.

No eye contact

Although there is no eye contact in these four images I do not feel this distracts from the overall impression created, and  I am pleasantly surprised at how revealing the portraits are . I think this is because the facial expressions of the three subjects captures  their state of mind at the time of being photographed. The first three images are all of smiling, happy, individuals, whilst the final images is intended to capture the concentration on my subjects face as she is about to blow out her birthday candles.


F5.6      75mm                   1/200                  ISO  200                Custom WB

F5.6         75mm   other settings as before

F4 other settings as before

Eye contact.

However I feel the image below benefits by capturing  the  gaze of my subject, and I waited until she looked directly at me. It captures a moment in time and her intense stare at the camera reflects her state of mind. The impact would not be so great without this stare.

F5.6       57mm        1/200       ISO 200     Custom WB   Flash with diffuser

 Second attempt, with just one subject this time. All taken inside using available daylight. Sat my subject in front a white wall with diffused light from the large side window to her right side. Used a tripod and cable release in order for me to talk, give instructions, and maintain eye contact when needed. I also found it useful to keep watching the expression on her face. 50 mm lens used for this session. I took around twenty images and whittled these down to a final eight that  I felt were acceptable representations of my subject. If I am honest I prefer the images that maintain direct eye contact for this session, but what I find interesting is the impact an expression can have on how a subject is judged by their appearance alone. As shown by this exercise it can be a variable and therefore how truthfully is an individual in a planned portrait session ever depicted? Chapter 5 Face to Face,  The Genius of Photography,  Quadrille Publishing. London 2007,discusses the issues raised in portraiture, and states a photographers “powers to misrepresent are wide” pg 169. The photographer alone chooses when to release the shutter.

All images @   50mm   1/50  F2.5   ISO 250   Daylight WB 



 She looks pensive here, a little lost and lonely. What is she thinking ? This image perhaps demonstrates how an expression alters how we interpret the character of the subject. I know this is not representative of her personality, but the casual onlooker would not.