Expressing Personalities

Hair Silhouetts. Photo by Alina Oswald.

Expressing Personalities in Photography

Capturing facets of someone’s personality in images

As photographers, we try to capture the personalities of our subjects, regardless of what or who we photograph. People and animals have personalities, but so do buildings, statues, and flowers for that matter.

Sometimes, portrait photographers get to capture facets of our subject or of our subject’s personality, depending on the story that needs to be told.

Here are a few examples:

Let’s start with two portraits that could be part of the same body of work, because they evoke a certain mood, look, and feel.

To capture various facets of the same subject’s personality (imagine the subject as an actor/actress playing different roles), we might need to photograph the same subject in a different light, playing with poses, body language, gesture, outfits, setting, and so on:

Here’s another example of split-lighting portraits that might not be included in a body of work, because of the mood evoked through each of the two black-and-white images:

And another example of capturing different facets of a subject’s personality, here through post-production work–that is, displaying the same image in color and in black-and-white:

Here’s yet another example, using self-portraits. When photographing (in particular) self-portraits, first decide how you, the subject, would like to be perceived by the public, the audience. What do you want your picture to convey? What mood, look, tone, and also story? Make this decision based on what the self-portrait is for–an author’s headshot (if yes, for what kind of book), an actor’s headshot, an editorial or a success story of some kind, etc. The possibilities could be infinite. I believe that photographing ourselves while playing different roles, communicating different emotions, and so on, is an interesting way to experiment and explore our creativity and creative selves. It’s fun, too. We can play “pretend,” dress up (or down), take on different roles–dark and edgy, all sorts of headshots, fashion, or just experimenting with light and lighting patterns. The sky is the limit.

By adding more images (above) this time around the mood evoked doesn’t change much, the location does, though, and as a whole, the series of images posted above do capture the subject’s personality, without changing the mood or the feel evoked through the series.

A few more things to mention when working on such a project: choose the best props, lighting, setting, poses, facial expression, gesture and/or body language, etc to convey those roles.

In other words, in order to capture various facets of your subject’s personality, give your subject or imagine your subject taking different roles, and capture each of the characters the subject plays and the story told by or through each of those characters.

Give it a try!

And as always, thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald

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