The Power of Off-Camera Looks

As a portrait photographer, I love to capture the essence of my subjects. I want to show, the best I can, their personality, their emotions, their stories. But sometimes, asking them to look directly at the lens can be limiting. It can create a barrier between them and me or make them feel self-conscious or uncomfortable.

That’s why I continue to use a simple technique to create more natural and expressive portraits: I ask them to look off-camera.

By doing so, I can achieve different effects and moods, depending on the direction and angle of their gaze.

Here are some of the benefits of using off-camera looks in your portrait photography:

It creates a sense of mystery and intrigue. When your subject looks away from the lens, it makes the viewer wonder what they are looking at, or what they are thinking. It invites the viewer to imagine their own story behind the image and to connect with the subject on a deeper level.

It shows their character and attitude. Depending on how your subject looks off-camera, you can convey different aspects of their personality. For example, if they look up, they can appear confident, optimistic, or dreamy. If they look down, they can seem shy, thoughtful, or sad. If they look sideways, they can express curiosity, interest, or boredom.

It adds variety and dynamism to your composition. By having your subject look off-camera, you can create more interesting and balanced compositions. You can use the rule of thirds, the golden ratio, or the diagonal method to place your subject and their gaze in the frame. You can also use negative space, leading lines, or other elements to direct the viewer’s attention to your subject and their off-camera look.

To create effective off-camera looks, you need to consider a few things:

The direction and angle of the gaze. You can ask your subject to look in different directions, such as up, down, left, right, or diagonally. You can also adjust the angle of their head and eyes, to create different expressions and emotions. Experiment with different combinations and see what works best for your subject and your vision.

The distance and focus of the gaze. You can also ask your subject to look at different distances, such as near, far, or somewhere in between. You can also choose to focus on their eyes, or on something else in the scene. This can affect the depth of field, the sharpness, and the bokeh of your image. Play with different settings and see what creates the most impact and mood.

The interaction and communication with the subject. The most important thing is to make your subject feel comfortable and relaxed. You can talk to them, ask them questions, tell them stories, or give them prompts. You can also show them some examples of off-camera looks, or demonstrate them yourself. The more you communicate and interact with your subject, the more natural and authentic their off-camera looks will be.

Using off-camera looks is a simple but powerful technique that can take your portrait photography to the next level. With an iPhone and some creativity, you can capture the soul of your portrait subjects and create stunning images that will stand out from the crowd.



Jack Hollingsworth