Convey emotion through pictures

Conveying emotion trough a picture is not an easy task but it is not impossible. When a photographer understands how to make feelings shine trough an image, the possibilities are endless.

They’re are many ways of making an emotion standing out in your photo.

1- Lighting

Lighting is a key element of any picture and it’s definitly important if you want to convey emotion. You can use a darker, more dramatic lighting for pictures evoking fear, sadness etc.. You can use a brighter, sun-like lighting to make a picture feel warm, safe and happy. The amount of different lighting is so vast and there is a perfect match for every emotion you want to portray.

Blue house

2-Tones and color

Unconsciously, we associate colors with feelings. We can use that aspect to help show a certain emotion in our photos. A blue overall theme can be associate your picture with sadness. Yellow and brighter colours can make us think about happiness, joy etc.. Gray and darker colours can convey a more depressed feeling.

Colourful doors

3-Faces and poses

Obviously if you have a model in your picture, you have to make sure they make the right facial expression so that your image really exudes what you want it to. Eyes are also very important. We can see people’s emotions trough their eyes. Wether they have a deep stare, a fiercer look or pityfull eyes. Poses also matter. You can make your model stand tall to make them seem confident or make them more closed up to bring up shyness. Every aspect of how they hold themselves will contribute to the final image’s emotion.

4-Use your environnement

If you are outdoors use the sun , use the rain, use the fog. All of those can be associated with emotions and can make us feel a certain way. For exemple fog can add a mysterious aspect to your image. The use of weather in your picture will really elevate the feelings we feel trough it.

Shore landscape


The way you crop your picture can change the mood of your image. If there is a lot of negative space next to a model , it will feel like she is freer. A model in a more closed off frame will look like she is encaged. That can totally affect your photo. Learn to play with framing and cropping.


If a model is shot while moving, it can create an emotion of urgency and rush and/or a more lively effect. It’s not the same as a still model who looks more grounded.

Dog on the beach

7-Lights and shadows

If your model is a shadow it will give it a more mysterious feeling and leaves to interpretation since you can’t see the model proprely. A more exposed face will be seen as more vulnerable.

Photos from

Photo credits: Sabrina Filion.

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October 30, 2018


Very Informative Sabrina.

October 11, 2018


Thank you!

October 11, 2018


thanks William!

October 11, 2018


Great tips. Well written! William

October 11, 2018


Very helpful, thank you Sabrina for the suggestions.

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