It’s February and that means Valentines Day here in the USA. Stores are filled with hearts, balloons, flowers and chocolates. There are a lot of fun traditions to document such as card making, candies, and baking treats, but most importantly love! So I was inspired to write a post all about capturing love and connection in your photographs.
Think of ways you can use color to convey feelings of love and connection. Think of colors that convey the feeling of warmth instead of cooler colors. The color red (and its’ many shades of pink) is a popular Valentine’s Day color for a very good reason. Shades of red are often used to convey the feeling of love, passion and desire. Red roses or a red dress would be perfect examples. Red can be used to signify warmth and connection so it’s not surprising we see a lot of it during this holiday.
EYE CONTACT AND INTERACTION
A sure fire way to convey feelings of love in your photos is to show your subjects interacting. Kisses and hugs are very clear signs of affections. But even something as simple as a loving gaze or a head resting on a shoulder can convey that same feeling of intimacy. Those gestures say, “I am comfortable with you, you can come into my personal space.” Capturing these kind of gestures will enhance the mood you are trying to depict in your photographs.
This might not seem as obvious, but when I am photographing families, children, or couples I always have to tell them to squeeze in closer, even if it seems like they are already standing right next to each other. When you view a photograph of two people standing side by side and there is space between them that space often appears magnified in the photo. If you can close that gap between your subjects you will instantly remove that sense of distance and replace it with a sense of connection and intimacy.
I cannot stress enough how important hands are in photographs. Our hands are such an important part of how we perceive the world around us and we gather so much information through them. Something as simple as touch is very powerful. Think about it for a minute. We don’t typically touch strangers and when we are introduced to a new person the first thing we do is shake hands and establish touch.
So it is not surprising that hands can play a powerful role in conveying love and affection in your photography. Holding hands is an act of intimacy…you don’t hold hands with just anyone. When you see two people holding hands, you instantly know they are connected both physically and emotionally.
And hands can used used in so many other ways to convey love. A hand on the cheek, on the shoulder, on the belly of a pregnant mamma all represent feelings of connection. So that next time you are taking a photo think about where you want to place your subjects hands to enhance your love storytelling.
TELL A STORY
Use your subjects to tell a story of love. How do we depict love in this way? Think of some of the things we do with the people we love…laugh, share, give gifts, perform acts of caring, even simply bake together. When you give someone something like a gift, or even something as small as a single flower, it can be used to represent affection and kindness. Or the act of sharing, like a cookie for example, is a wonderful way to represent love between siblings. Children don’t like to share with just anybody, so the act of doing so is truly special.
I mentioned flowers above in the act of telling a story and the reason I did that is that in many cultures flowers are symbolic of love. You bring flowers to your date, or to your mother, or your friend. Giving flowers represents an act of caring and kindness. Hearts, for example, are another very clear symbol of love. We all recognize that a heart signifies love because we feel love in our hearts. When you use these kinds of symbols in your photographs you are making a clear statement about the mood and theme you are trying to depict.
An image with a broken heart would covey a very different mood. Broken hearts convey feelings of sadness. Since a broken heart is such a universal symbol, your viewer would very easily be able to pick up on your intentions if you included one in your photograph.
WAIT FOR THE LITTLE MOMENTS
And finally, when I am trying to convey love in my photographs sometimes the best thing I can do is step back and allow my subjects to interact naturally. When you can catch your subjects smiling at each other, or laughing together, or just sharing a quiet moment, you have struck photography gold. It is often our subject’s natural interactions that evoke that authentic feeling of love. When I look at my daughter holding my son in the photo below, I instantly get the sense of how much she loves holding him and caring for him.
Let’s do a quick recap of my top 6 tips for capturing love and connection in your photographs!
- Color – Use warm colors like red to convey the feeling of connection, passion, and love.
- Eye Contact/Interaction – Be aware of how you are posing your subjects and use intimacy and interaction as a surefire way to express love.
- Standing Close – Remember that gaps between your subjects can represent distance, having them squeeze in close and close those gaps will further enhance that feeling of connection.
- Hands – I cannot stress enough how meaningful hands are in your photos. Touch is such a simple yet powerful form of connection.
- Symbols – We can use clear symbols, like hearts, to convey the feeling of love.
- Wait for the little moments – Sometimes the best moments of love are the ones we capture accidentally. Step back and give your subjects a chance to interact naturally.
So there you have it! I hope these tips help you the next time you set out to capture love with your camera. And if you are struggling to shoot images this time of year (Winter is a notorious time for photography ruts) check out my blog post all about getting out of your Winter Photography Rut here!
P.S. I’m participating in a super fun blog circle this month with some of my photographer friends. Check out my friend Robyn a Premiere San Diego Senior Photographer Now Offering A Class: Creating Genuine Senior Portraits and her blog post is all about learning tips and tricks to elicit genuine, emotive images with your seniors.
Ruth Young is a professional portrait photographer and photography educator located in Culpeper, Virginia and serving the Northern Virginia area. She photographs her daily life with her 5 small children and has a passion for teaching photography. For more about Ruth follow her on Instagram where she posts daily.