To See or Not To See
One of the things I love most about portrait photography is the connection to the subject through eye contact with the camera and by extension the photographer and ultimately the viewer. To see a photograph where the eyes of the subject seem to look straight at you is a powerful thing. The brief moment of exposure freezes the eyes in a gaze that will never leave you. It is said the eyes are the window to the soul and can reveal the emotion of the subject all on their own. Pain, pleasure, happiness, sadness, anguish, fear, empathy to name a few.
Most of us would start to feel quite uncomfortable if we were stared at so fixedly for more than a few seconds. Even in the deepest conversations the eyes flit about the triangle of eyes and mouth of the person we are talking with. It is only really the portrait where we can stare back without threat or consequence.
When I shoot with my friend Georgiana of The Fashion Morning I like to catch a few portraits in the mix as we flow between poses. Having a pretty awesome zoom lens which allows fast changes of focal length helps a lot. I can shoot a full length frame one moment and a tighter head and shoulders shot the next. Most of the photographs are about the clothes and style and surroundings in which they are worn. But there are those of her eyes fixed directly on the lens which observes her.
And so with that introduction and stream of thought written down I have decided to only show photos from our shoot a few weekends ago where Georgiana is not looking at the camera. One or two are pretty close but that intensity of gaze is deliberately missing. Do you feel a difference as you view the images? Do you feel more voyeristic and intrusive as you look at them? This woman who hasn't looked at you and isn't aware of your presence. Does a photograph of her looking at you almost grant permission to look back?
There are no wrong or right answers but perhaps just a difference in the story being told and the emotion however subtle being evoked.
Keywords: Beautiful, Canon, Chic, Editorial, Eyes, Fashion, Georgiana, Herringbone, Jeans, Lace, London, Red, Tweed
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