5 Tips for Capturing Emotion in Photos

5 tips for capturing emotionCapturing emotion in photos is no easy task! It can be especially tricky when people know they are being photographed. You know how children have the "cheese!" face, well adults have it too. There are times when we all want something more from a photo… genuine emotion. As the photographer, it's your job to help people feel relaxed and comfortable! These five tips will help you get started…

1 warm up photos1. Take Plenty Of Warm Up Shots
There are times when a person needs a little time to warm up in front of the camera. In these situations, I am thankful for taking that extra few minutes to get a great shot. Don't be afraid to take an assortment of photos as you get to know your subject. Everyone has a few extra flattering poses and as a photographer its our job to find them! Who wants an unflattering photo?! Not cool. So, take the time to find the beauty in your subject. This will give them the extra time to get comforatble in front of the camera. It's a win-win situation! 
2 ask a question2. Ask Lots Of Questions
When I began to get to know my subjects, my photographs got better. I have always been moved by emotion and that is one thing that really connected me to photography. Having a conversation while taking photos is a great way to capture little moments and get photos that reflect the person's personality! 
3 full range of emotion3. Experiment With A Full Range Of Emotion
Depending on the focus of the photoshoot, I like to experiment with a full range of emotion. I do this for various reasons, but most importantly it helps break the ice. Spending a few minutes being fun, silly, flirty, serious and sad….can loosen up your subject, while at the same time getting to know the comfort level of your subject. Everything I do and the way I interact with a subject goes back to "getting to know" my subject- spending this extra time to find the beauty rather than shoot and hope for the best- will really pay off. I promise. 
4 shoot in-between moments4. Watch For The In-Between Moments
From the start of a photosession to the time it comes to an end…I am always ready. My camera is in hand and I am aware at all times, anticipating the unexpected and unplanned moments. Some of my favorite shots are the ones right after the shot that my subject was expecting. This is when they breathe out the breath they were holding in, relax the smile that could have been forced and the moment when their body falls into a more relaxed position. We can give our subjects direction all day long, but there's something wonderful about a natural pose…and sometimes you can find that in the "in between." So, my advice is to always anticipate the next move, before your subject gets there. Keep your camera to your eye and continue to look for the natural beauty. Everyone has it. It's there. Anticipate it!
5 get to know your subject5. Do The Research & Get To Know Your Subject
Elsie: When I take photos of my dear friends I always try to capture one of the qualities that I love most about them! In this photo of my pal, Leigh-Ann, I was trying to capture her adorable smile, one of her cutest qualities. I told cheesy inside jokes until I captured a genuine smile! 
Kelli: My subjects can always expect to receive a Q&A from me, prior to a photoshoot. It's super important to me to capture who they are. What works for me is coming up with questions that will allow a peek into my subjects life, which helps me get to know them. If I am photographing a married couple I love getting to know what the husband adores about his wife….and what the wife appreciates about her husband. Whether it's the dimple on her left cheek or the way he holds her hand when they cross a busy street….I want to capture just that!

We hope you've picked up some tips for capturing emotion. Whether you are photographing your own family or someone you've never met you'll be able to create a comfotable, fun photo session! Have a great day! Kelli, Elsie + Emma 

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  • This is so helpful! I am working with film a lot, so it’s hard to take a risk and just snap the picture. This is going to help me so much with allowing my client to really be into the picture and not look boring… haha. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information!


  • This is prefect! I do this with my brothers when they are cranky that they are having their photos taken. A joke or two works nicely too!


  • just wanted to say thank you! i really loved this post. don’t we all hate those uncomfortable looking pictures? i do. thanks for the tips!

  • This is a truly beautiful post! I can tell you have a passion for beautiful things and photography. I love how personal and genuine this post is! Thank you for writing an insightful and inspiring blog! That’s one reason I keep coming back for more!



  • Great Tips! Thanks for sharing! I take a lot of photos with friends and family and this helps!


  • Elsie you always have the best ideas! i try only to take photos with true emotions, but when it comes to me and other ppl takes my photos i have to smile at the camera, so this post is perfect for my “photographer” friends who takes my photos of the blog, thank you a lot!!!

  • Really great tips! Now I’m curious about Kelli’s Q&A 🙂 you guys should put them up on the blog 🙂

  • Wow, thanks for this. Some really useful tips! I shall try and take this on board as I am planning on asking some of my friends to model some of my crocheted creations for me soon. I’ve never photographed so formally so this should really help.

    – Lois x

  • thank you so much…i love your blog it has such great topics 🙂

    xoxo Stephi


  • way too helpful, els! and i’ve always been in love with your photos.. hihi.. feel free to visit my blog,
    xoxo jen

  • Really great tips! Your posts are always so informative, love that about your blog!

  • I’m awkward personified when I see a camera. I wish I had someone that I could experiment with but alas no.

  • This is fab! I’m currently doing a photography course, which is absolutely brilliant at teaching me the technical aspect, but your posts really help me get creative! Thank you 🙂 xx

  • Thanks so much! I’m not often behind the camera but in front i always feel awkward; like I’m trying to do Tyra’s “Smile with your eyes” move a epically failing. But the in between moments is such a good idea. That way I won’t know its coming : )

  • I’m not often behind the camera. But I almost always feel awkward in front of it. The in between moments pictures are such a good idea! Way more relaxed when I;m not paying attention : ) Thanks!

  • Thank you SO SO much for posting this!! You are soo helpful!


  • this is such an interesting post elsie! I’m just slowly getting into photography and this aspect isn’t something I’d really thought about, so I really love these tips!

  • Great tips and advice. I’m going to take all of this into consideration.


  • I’m loving all your photography tips lately! Thanks for posting, they help so much.

  • Really great tips. The asking questions tip is a good one!

    ♥ sécia

  • Great tips 🙂


  • Love between the moment shots, or my brother and I like to call them movement shots! They always prevent us from getting too senior pictur-y.

    ☮ Lisa Ann

  • I am really loving these photo tips. All these great tutorials have been keeping “penny” the pentax and I very busy!




  • this is so great! i know a lot of people are camera shy (myself included when i’m not the one holding the camera), so these tips are essential to include in any photo shoot! love this series so much! keep ’em coming!

  • Great tips, it is really hard to capture anything genuine from uncomfortable people. A lot of my friends and family are camera phobes, hope using some of these tips will help!

  • First of all, I want to thank you for being such an inspiration and for being so helpful

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  • This is immensly helpful!

    The in-between photos are so sweet. 🙂

    Much love, Vivi


  • I would definitely give in some warm up time for myself and my object next time. These are such thoughtful and helpful tips for beginners like me who just got her camera!!! Gracias 🙂

  • Another great photo post!! Can’t tell you how much we {me & my photographer-daughter} are enjoying these!


  • You have no idea how helpful this is thankyou so much :D,

  • Wow thanks for these wonderful tips. You take magical shots:). http://fancycuteness.blogspot.com

  • This is definitely one of my very favorite posts! Such a great idea and I couldn’t love your photographs more if I tried! This blog is my hero blog!


  • I love this! I think my problem is that I never take enough photos!

  • This is a wonderful post. That second photo from the ‘in-between moments’ is the cutest thing ever. I wish I had a sister!
    Frame that beauty. <3

  • awesome tips, these photos look fantastic!


  • Photos which show a truer side of a person other than just their ‘photo face’ smile are those that you can properly appreciate for a really long time – they really make you remember the moment. That being said, I always feel rather shy taking people’s photo so its great to have a mental plan like this to really focus on how to capture the feeling!

  • I tend to do one emotion: awkward! I’m going to try some really cheesy, fun poses to ‘warm up’ with. Great idea. Rx


  • this helps when I’m getting my friends to model my products!


  • Just finished up on a photoshoot this past Monday and, boy, are you right on this. Luckily, the photographer was on it and the model was a genuinely lovely spirited girl- so that helped. But the vast majority of the shoot was me finding a balance between following my storyboard notes and making sure that the crew and the model were at ease in the mix.
    You capture emotion and a person’s genuine nature beautifully… thank you for sharing your tips here. Very worthy and very helpful.

  • These are really great tips. I’m of the “take 1000 pictures and 5 will turn out great!” mentality, but having a purpose in mind is probably better. 🙂

  • Thanks for the great post! I’ll definitely get a lot of use out of this one. I mostly shoot live bands but I have a harder time when I have to “direct” people. Awesome tips!

  • Oh gosh this is so helpful! When I look back on my photos they all look so contrived and boring. but no more! Thank you!


  • Awesome post!

    The Bootlace


  • So great!! I’m currently terrible at photographing people – precisely because, as you say, it takes a while to get warmed up… and I tend to mistake that awkwardness with an I-Don’t-Know-Why-You’re-Taking-My-Picture-You-Weirdo-ness. I think if I just keep snapping away, my “subjects” will probably get a lot more comfortable and I’ll actually be able to capture big-person moments on camera too – not just babies (who, let’s face it, are so much less awkward)!!!

  • Such fantastic tips, I am forwarding these to my husband, so we can both take great pictures.

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  • my favourite posts are these…the different and useful tips for photography! thanks forr sharing!;)

  • i definitely think the in between moments when people are caught off guard are KEY!

  • This is really helpful! Tips on how to POSE would be great for me as well! I’m not so photogenic. 😉

  • Awesome post! Thanks for sharing 🙂
    In between photos are always the most fun, I think!


  • thanks for this post 🙂 we’re having out engagement pictures taken next month and while i’m super excited, i’m also nervous! i’m not good in front of the camera and i feel like i’m not the most photogenic person around. but i know i have a good photographer and hopefully she’ll do stuff like this and all will be well 🙂

  • great tips for a beginner like me! 🙂



  • thanks for this! it seems so obvious to warm up but i don’t always think about it when i’m in the moment. i mean, with digital pictures you can take hundreds and delete the bad ones so easily so i guess you should just try to take as many different ones as you can! there’s bound to be a good one in there. 🙂

  • Thank you very very much for the useful tips!! I will try to use them next time I attempt to shoot a portrait!
    The thing is that I am very shy myself, so it is really hard sometimes to shoot people I don’t know… but I guess, I have to overcome this!!
    Thanks again!


  • Great tips! I find that its easier to get real emotion out of people when you dont give them too much direction…it makes them focus on what they’re doing and not enjoying themselves. And definitely taking as many pictures as possible gives you more to choose from! Thanks for the pointers!

    xx Ashleigh

  • I am always looking for more photography tips and ideas; this is a great post! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience with us 🙂

  • I love your tips to make photos, and your photos too. I can’t wait to try them. Have you made a post about photographing a tutorial? Could you give some tips if you can? Thank you. I love your blog. You both are so creative!

  • Thanks for the great tips, Elsie! This is really helpful for a beginner like me 🙂

  • These are such helpful tips for an aspiring photographer. I think they’ll be so helpful for my session this Sunday! Thanks!

  • These tips are great. I really like the part about asking questions to help connect :]

  • I love these tips! Especially doing a range of emotions in the “practice” shots. It’s hard to just pose and do it naturally without getting comfortable first.
    Thanks for these!


  • One of my fav posts, thanks so much! Once I saw the last photo I though you were waiting for that smile 🙂

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