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Tips for Better Expressive Photography

Updated on August 24, 2014
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CC BY 2.0 | Source
CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

"Expressive Photography does not necessarily involved human being, in can be any subject, it can be still life, it can be landscape, seascape, it can be a mountains, an animal, it can be anything as long as the subject mange to touch our heart, evoke our feelings, emotion or our moods." Eddie Adams

public domain
public domain | Source

"Brenda Tharp: Expressive photography involves photographs that express a feeling or a mood -- photographs that draw the viewer in and make them feel what you felt when you were making the picture. That's probably the easiest definition of it.

When you're talking about expressive photography you're referring to photographs that make a person go, "Ooh," or, "Aah," and feel what it was like to have been in that scene in that particular moment."

This kind off says it all as this is what expressive photography is.

You have to capture an image that makes the viewers look at the picture and whether it is vocalized or not, at least they think of how much he or she would have wanted to be there or can appreciate the feeling of the scene and the intention behind the work the moment you captured it on film.

Remember that the ambient and the light play crucial roles with this style.

Your pictures have to be powerful by themselves, full of exciting scenes, colors, and elements that can by themselves invoke a feeling or elicit a mood.

You really have to look at the scene and involve yourself in thought; how can you capture a view that tells others what you felt when you were there about to snap a picture has to be your mindset.

You more than likely will also have to be an on the spot editor. Eliminate elements that do not add to the scene, include others that do help the scene and plan the shots accordingly.

If you want to experience and really get to understand what it takes to do this type of pictures you need look no farther than the pages of most any National Geographic Magazine. Their photographers are experts in capturing images that seldom fail in awaking a feeling or eliciting a mood. Many of the images featured in any of their editions most always make a viewer pause ,think about as well as admire the work in front of their eyes.

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CC BY 3.0 | Source

Did you understand what expressive photography really entails?

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Expressive photography does not have to feature complicated scenery. Often simplicity works best.

It does not have to be focused solely nature or landscape shots, although a vast majority of expressive photography does use nature as it subject matter.

Sometimes the look on a person's face whether it be of happiness, sadness, joy or pain work just as well.

Even if the image is monochromatic like a single tree in a vast space, the shape of the clouds, the background, whether or not it looks as if storms are approaching, the emptiness itself, can all be said to invoke a sense of loneliness

This image as it is would be considered to be expressive because when looking at it people would feel a sense of sadness or a similar feeling.

Worth mentioning is that expressive images can be found almost anywhere.

You do not need to seek out exciting and out of the way locations. Just be aware of your surroundings. The leaf photo above was taken in the parking lot of a Wendy's!

CC BY-ND 3.0  "believe it or not I took this outside of WENDY'S."
CC BY-ND 3.0 "believe it or not I took this outside of WENDY'S." | Source

Like the quotes above say; expressive photography can be a photograph about almost anything alive or not.

However, the subject featured on the image itself has to somehow make a viewer feel something.

This is off course forms the basis for this style of photography and can take a really good discerning eye plus a good handle on creativity and an good grasp of the emotions or the feeling that the image can end up representing.

All of these elements have to come together in order for the composition to work as intended.

One has to really study the composition of similar images and get a sense of what each image makes one feel.

Although an image can mean many things to many different people, if it creates a sense of mood then it can be said to be an expressive work.

CC BY-SA 3.0
CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

Many professionals believe that any type of picture that have the elements of “an expression does make for a strong photographic composition.

This does not necessarily mean that the image has to be technically perfect; sharp enough, capture good lighting, have a good strong color scheme or follow any generally established photographic rules of composition.

However it most importantly be a photo that must be able to touch your heart in one way or another more than just looking nice.

CC BY-ND 3.0
CC BY-ND 3.0 | Source

These type of images can be used for general photo articles, in galleries, for book publishing and as single specimens.

There are more art than anything else and they can be strong representatives of the art of photography.

Photographers who specialize in the style are probably not that interested in making a sale more than selling their work as art itself.

They have a creative eye and approach their work as such.

This is not to say that photographers who specialize in other styles do not approach their work the same way, but it does tend to differentiate one from the other in some form or another.

Most of the expressive photography images that a viewer can see are mainly shown in galleries next to other works of art.

© 2014 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 3 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Nikki D. Felder; thank you

    • Nikki D. Felder profile image

      Nikki D. Felder 3 years ago from Castle Hayne, N.C.

      Great examples along with descriptive text!

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 3 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Ericdierker: thank you sir

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Excellent and instructive as always -- thank you