Whether it’s an animal or a human, direct eye contact can make for an intense shot and leads the viewer to wonder what’s going on behind those eyes.
When you’re looking at television news, you’ll often see someone speak to an interviewer just off the side of the camera. In this setup (called an over-the-shoulder shot), you feel close to the action, without really being part of it. In drama, you’ll sometimes see actors speak directly to the camera. It feels a little uneasy (and is known as ‘breaking the fourth wall’), but can be a really powerful storytelling technique. The final option is to move the camera off to the side, so you can see two people having a conversation. The camera is just documenting at this point, without really being part of the action.
As a photographer, you have access to all of these techniques. Mix them up. The cheesy, head-on grin may be the biggest cliché if all, but good eye contact with a model in a portrait can be really powerful. Feeling as if you’re observing a candid moment can be, too. It depends on the context and the mood of the photo. Try experimenting with both!
Did you enjoy this excerpt from Haje Jan Kamps’ latest book, Why Photographers Prefer Cloudy Days, and 61 other ideas for creative photography?
You did? Excellent! Then why not go ahead and treat yourself to the entire book? It’s full of fantastic tips and fresh ideas to help keep your photography relevant, inventive, and progressive.
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