by Sue Henderson

Do you ever find yourself looking through pictures you’ve taken and find you have a trend?    It’s happened to me often enough I’ve started intentionally filing them in specific category folders.    One such folder in my portfolio is people.

In the past couple of years as a watercolor artist I’ve taken workshops with well-known portrait artists Ted Nuttall and Michael Holter.    Both have stressed the importance of shadows and contrast on faces to make an image more interesting.

It reminds me of this quote by Helen Van Wyk (1930-1994): “It is in the contrast of light and dark that design happens.”

Here’s an example side by side

They’re both pretty good pics but the one on the right is so much more interesting precisely because of the shadows cast by her veil.

Classic – yep, he can definitely see all our faces clearly. Squinting into the sun. (That’s
me in the middle headed off to church I would imagine from the bibles and the gloves.)

Now tell the truth, when you’re lining up family members for photos on a sunny day, haven’t you always tried to avoid the shadows?    What I’ve learned from this is to look FOR the shadows.   Try it.   You might surprise yourself.

Another element is to capture people DOING something.   I’m drawn to daily life –  the contemplative moments like offering a prayer or trying to make a decision at a market.

And I like people with character on their faces – something that makes them unique.    It might be well-earned lines or a glint in their eye or exhaustion from working hard.    Sometimes it’s even a look letting us know I’m not appreciated capturing that moment.

Now maybe your thing is window boxes or birds. It doesn’t matter.   Can your viewers know what you love from your portfolio?    I’m working on mine.   Let me know if you can tell!   

As always, you can drop us a note here, send us an email or find us on FB at “Focus on Travel with Sue Henderson”.