by Scott Stulberg
Many photographers know that the eyes are the key to a great image of people. They are the first thing most of us focus on when we view a photograph. They also can set the mood and tone for the image in the way the eyes are captured in the photograph. In my class here at BetterPhoto called Eye to Eye: Capturing the Face, I love to talk about how powerful the eyes are to great photographs of the face. One of the most important things to keep in mind is the focus……if the eyes are not critically sharp, then most viewers will not appreciate the image as much as they should. It is because are brain does not deal with soft focus very well.
Try to cross your eyes for more than a few seconds and you will see what I mean. Blurriness is not a nice feeling and that goes for photographs as well. When we are used to having things as sharp as possible in real life….then even in a two dimensional form as in a photograph, our mind wants that to be sharp too. So keep an eye on the eyes and make sure that you focus on them when photographing the face.
One other thing to keep in mind is that your subject does not always have to be looking at the camera. Most of the time, it is preferred to have the eyes looking right into the lens…but many great shots can be created with your subject looking away from the lens or even having their eyes closed. Shots like this can create a mood that otherwise cannot be conveyed with their eyes open and looking directly into the camera. In the following examples, I have some images with eyes closed and also looking away from the lens. I purposely tell my subjects to close their eyes or look away from the camera to create these images and I love the mood that it creates. Try this for yourself when you can and see what you come up with the next time you are photographing someone…..you might just surprise yourself!