Portraiture | It’s Not About Eye Contact

In His Own Mind

© 2010 Wazari Wazir | Portrait Photography

A Perfect Photo That is Empty of Any Feeling Will Never Equal a Blurred Photo Full of Emotion

( Olivier Föllmi )

Portrait photography or portraiture is the capture by means of photography of the likeness of a person or a small group of people (a group portrait), in which the face and expression is predominant. The objective is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the subject. Like other types of portraiture, the focus of the photograph is the person’s face, although the entire body and the background may be included. A portrait is generally not a snapshot, but a composed image of a person in a still position. A portrait often shows a person looking directly at the camera. ( Wikipedia )

Generally I like a description from Wikipedia about Portrait photography and for me great portrait photography have nothing to do with eye contact, the reason why I’m writing this is that, a lot of people especially those who just starting up taking picture put too much emphasis on “eye contact”. There is a place for that but it is not mandatory for a portrait to have eye contact, maybe in some case like for formal portrait shot, corporate shot or maybe some commercial or fashion shots, you do need to get strong eye contact but for general purpose of portrait photography just be free.

Maybe new photographers have not look back at the great portrait from the past like famous photograph like “Migrant Mother” a photograph by Dorothea Lange, there is no eye contact here but it does connect to our heart and that is the most important thing. I think great portrait photography is a picture that touch our heart. I like a quote from famous war photographer, Eddie Adams “If it Makes You Laugh, If it Makes You Cry, If it Rips Out Your Heart, That’s a Good Picture”.

But be remember, even though great portrait photography does not necessarily about eye contact but to have a great portrait the focus must be on the eyes. Basically the eyes must be sharp, the reason why is that, it is the first thing that we as a human will look at to, the eyes. Once again to those of you who are interested to learn more about portrait photography, please take your time to have a look from a picture from the past, why they are still consider to be great after all this years. There are many factors that contribute to great portrait photography but for  me personally, if it does touch my heart, then it is a great picture.

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