Eye contact and expression

For this exercise I am to set up a portrait session in which the face is prominent (and maybe the head and shoulders or torso). During the shooting, I am to direct my subject to look towards me and at other times away.

I chose a work colleague, someone I don’t know too well. This helped me gain confidence in directing my subject. By keeping the conversation light he too was able to relax and be natural. I set my camera on a tripod and used the remote shutter release, that way I could move about and make eye contact with my subject, thus putting him at ease.

I started by taking a shot of him with something he felt comfortable with – his pocket watch. Gradually he relaxed more. I saved the shot asking him to look directly into the camera, until last. I then post processed one or two in black and white, I think these worked well  due to his dark skin and clothing.

I have given some thought to whether I have a distinct preference for my subject looking straight into the camera or slightly away. I don’t, I think it very much depends on the subject and more importantly what my intention is.  Who sees the human face correctly: the photographer, the mirror, or the painter? (Pablo Picasso 1881-1973)