Just because your subject isn’t connecting with you directly doesn’t mean they’re not connected. Shooting from the back can capture the connection between your subject and another subject quite effectively. Whether it’s a quiet, tender moment between a father and child, a playful interlude between siblings or even a glimpse into the compassion shared between your subject and their canine companion, the possibilities of capturing connections in this way are endless. Watch for simple movements that evoke caring: A lean, a caress, a tilt of the head or a literal connection like handholding are priceless gestures that are all the more valuable when caught in a photograph.
CONSIDER THE CONTEXT
Often, the part of the image that tells most of the story isn’t the person at all; it’s where the person is being photographed. Shooting subjects in a place that’s meaningful to them offers a connection in a different kind of way, and it can give a personal and significant meaning to the portrait. Look at the landscape to help you tell the story. A wooded path to wander, a vast vista to contemplate, a breathtaking beach on a summer’s day all offer totally unique backdrops to your portraits.
Shooting from the back means you have to rely on things like your background to give context to the shot. When you add your subject to the backdrop and capture them in motion, in thought, relaxing, skipping or even jumping, you’re bound to be translating the expression of that moment.
Props and accessories can also bring context to your portraits—my personal favorite being my kids in their Mickey Mouse ears. It doesn’t get better than that! Keeping in mind the backdrop and also getting creative with your composition can help you use apparel to your creative advantage. Whether it’s a baseball cap, a beach hat, pigtails, a sports uniform or a formal gown, attire, adornments and other accessories can create a portrait narrative that’s as evocative as any facial expression could ever be.
TRACEY CLARK is the founder of Shutter Sisters, a collaborative photo blog and thriving community of female photo enthusiasts, shuttersisters.com. Learn more about Tracey and her work at www.traceyclark.com.