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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 Nuttell and Michael Holter.    Both of them 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

A boy wearing a hat with almost no shadows

A boy wearing a hat with almost no shadows

  

A man in similar hat with strong shadows

A man in similar hat with strong shadows

Can you see the difference in the strong shadows on the man on the right?   While they are both looking off inquisitively, the stronger shadows make a more compelling image.

Here’s another pair with even more in common.

Girl with no shadows

Girl with no shadows

Similar girl with strong shadows

Similar girl with strong shadows

  While both of these women are definitely engaging and smiling, the one on the left appears a little flat compared with the contrasting right image.

What do you think?    Visit Henderson Productions on Facebook and join the conversation.

And one more thing, and 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.