Expressing Emotions Through Photography

One of the greatest powers of photography is the ability of expressing one’s emotions through it. The most powerful photographs out there are the ones that successfully convey a certain mood or emotion.

But to convey an emotion through photograph is not an easy task. Often times you photograph a scene and think that it is pretty powerful, and then the resulting image disappoints. In order to successfully achieve the desired result many things have to come in place.

Let’s see what are the tools that if used correctly will allow your photographs to be emotional.

Light. It is very important in any photograph, and it has to be just right when expressing emotions. For example when you express anger, you might want to keep the scene in dark colors, while photographs expressing joy and happiness are mostly bright and shiny.

Color. Another important component. The first example that comes to my mind is the Red color, which can represent danger (in various signs) but in other contexts can also represent romance (red roses, red lips). Another example would be Green color, which has calming effect, if you want to create sense of tranquility in your photo you might want to fill it with green color (trees, plants, jungle, sea). When you consider various combinations of colors – the possibilities are endless, and don’t forget the power of black and white photographs!

Composition. It is absolutely essential to have an appropriate composition for expressing any emotion through your photograph. Sometimes just a slight change of camera angle can make all the difference and emotionally faded image comes to life.

Focus. When you want to emphasize a certain part of your image you put it in sharp focus while making other parts more blurred, but this rule isn’t written in stone. Sometimes the blurred parts of an image create all the mood, and hint the viewer about the story of the photograph. So it is not about the image being sharp or not, but about using the focus in such ways that will contribute to your final result.

There can be endless combinations of these components, and it is photographer’s job to find and create the ones that work, the ones that convey emotions to the viewer in a powerful way.

I decided to try and convey the emotions of love and affection. There are million of different ways to do that – photograph a young couple in different settings,  a mother with child, etc. I decided to do that with still life.

When Ira and I were on vacation a few months ago, we bought this tiny figure of two hippos as a symbol of our feelings, and this figure immediately came to my mind as being perfect for the task. But just a figure wasn’t enough, so I thought what else can I add to the composition? I knew for sure that I wanted the image to be in bright and happy colors, so I was looking for something colorful. I ended up with these beautiful tiny blue flowers (forgive me for not knowing their name), and below the hippos and flowers I placed dry tree leaves, which were bright yellow.

Hippos In Love 1 Hippos In Love 2

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Now, when I had all the components, all that was left was to combine them together in one composition. I tried many different variations and the two that you see above I liked the most. In order to concentrate the viewer’s attention on the hippos I used wide aperture and focused on their eyes. This way most of the flowers were blurred creating a happy, bright, and colorful background for the “hippos in love”.

Photographing hippos, I noticed how tender these flowers were, and photographed them alone to try and show their tenderness. Two photos below is what I came up with.

Flowers in Black and White Flowers in Color

Click on the photo to enlarge.

I can’t say to what extent I succeeded in conveying the emotions of love, affection, and tenderness through these images. It is for you to decide. Can you feel it through my images? How would you express your emotions through photography?

Remember, you only have to enter your name to leave a comment!

Till the next time,


4 thoughts on “Expressing Emotions Through Photography

  1. Thanks for your exellent explanation here. I am a 7th grade teacher with a passion for photography. I am presently teaching a digital photography unit with my students. I have been trying to find ways to have students practice creating photographs that capture and utilize the elements of design as well as emotion. I find it hard to put into words what they need to do. Your explanation coupled with your photo examples have been a great help. Thank you.
    Keep up the great work!

  2. Ive been working on a project for my 8th grade year trying to convey emotion through photography I found your article useful.

  3. I am a sophomore in high school and I thank you for this very useful article, very factual and helpful for my essay on photography. Keep up the good work, Kalysa

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