Why Gesture and Emotion Are So Important in Street Photography
I find a fascinating aspect of street photography is that it can be so difficult to figure out the reasons why one photograph may work while another doesn’t.
A successful photograph can be sharp or blurry, it can have soft and even light or harsh and contrasty light, it can be a busy scene with layers of objects and people or it can be a simple and quiet photograph.
Then things get even more complicated when you think about mood, ideas, and feelings that you want to portray.
Despite all this uncertainty, there are two things that will always improve your street photography – the gesture in a person’s body or an emotion captured in their face.
Both of these can be the single reason why a photograph turns out great. That can form the foundation for the entire image.
When talking about emotion, I mean the look in someone’s face, their eyes, their mouth, the subtle micro-expressions in the forehead. When talking about gesture, we mean a stance, movement, pose, or any way that someone uses their body to show feeling.
Street photography can be misunderstood about only being about the serendipitous and special moment, that will just pop out at you when it does. Or often it’s just about fashion or unique features, leading to lots of flashy photographs with no feeling or emotion, because they lack emotion and gesture.
When exploring, don’t only look for people who seem interesting on the surface, instead look for ones who look like they are feeling something interesting.
The most average person can give you the most interesting emotion while the flashiest person can give you nothing.
So next time you are out photographing, try to hone in on what your subjects are feeling instead of just what they look like.
1 thought on “Why Gesture and Emotion Are So Important in Street Photography”
Gesture and emotion are always important, even in a studio environment. Like when Yosef Karsh grabbed the cigar from Winston Churchill – the expression that evoked became one of the quintessential portraits of Churchill.