Creating a Great Image – Part II – Emotional Impact

January 29, 2010

Photo Tips, Portrait

Do your images evoke an emotional response? When ever I want to know if an image works, I share it with my friends and see what happens. I love it when someone says Wow!

I really love this image with out my asking for a response. I know I have done a good job when someone stops to view my work and laughs or just takes in the work, but how do you capture that “defining moment?” Well for me, it’s a process of setting up the stage so to speak and waiting to see what happens. Because my world is about children, it’s so easy for me to wait and watch. Understanding how a child’s mind works is helpful, but if you give them the freedom they need to express them, it will always happen.

Children under the age of 4 or 5 haven’t learned yet how to be embarrassed or hide their emotions they just are who they are. When I have a session with young child, I always ask what would they like to do and provide them with as much freedom as I can so that they will respond to the environment.

With Angelina, “Death by Chocolate” was created in her kitchen with her mother watching as we allowed her to climb up on the counter and “find” the empty bowl of brownie mix with just enough left in there for her to play with. The rest was left up to her.

How she approached the bowl and played with it was all her own doing. I took a series of images of her finding the chocolate and then playing with it to actually eating it and making a mess of herself and the counter. The final image again was all her own doing.

Those of you that photograph children, especially two year olds understand that there is no such thing as posing or even positioning this age group, so you just go with the flow. In this case we all laughed until we cried watching her thoroughly enjoying herself as we did. I’m sure a big part of her performance was enhanced by our sheer enjoyment of her passion for cleaning up the rest of the brownie mix.

This is another element of photographing children of all ages, (including Adults) which is worth mentioning. If you participate in the process and create a safe environment, the subject will be disarmed and feel confident that whatever they do, will be all right. If it’s tense in your studio or where ever you’re shooting, your subjects will feel it and respond to it.

As photographers it’s not only our job to capture the emotions of our subjects, but to create an atmosphere that allows them to be free to express their feelings whether they are happy or sad. It’s what makes for a compelling image.


This post was written by:

- who has written 4 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

Judy Host is an award winning International Portrait Photographer and Educator traveling all over the world to share her experiences with her peers. She has recently recorded her first DVD on the Art of Available Light Photography. Check out Judy’s website at Upcoming workshops are in Miami and Maui, Los Osos, and Denver For more info, please contact her at

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2 Responses to “Creating a Great Image – Part II – Emotional Impact”

  1. Bernie Says:

    Fabulous picture and a really great post Judy. This gets to the heart of the matter.


  2. Sylvia Says:

    Absolutely PRICELESS! She will grow up cherishing this moment you have captured for her and her family. Pure delight! GREAT IMAGE! Thanks for sharing your creative genius! Sending you lots of love!


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