In communication with a sports photographer last week he described to me the importance of seeing the eyes of his subject. He shoots close up big time sports action shots. His words, “the eyes are the window to the soul’. Now I have described this idea myself but I have always been a portrait photographer. Now my sports shooter colleague is telling me that he works for the same thing in his fast moving split second timing sports photography.
A mentor of mine several years ago, this was during the Black and White Senior Portrait days with hand colored portraits, would look high school girls very closely in their eyes to determine the proper color to send to the oil colorist. Her conversation went something like, “Oh how beautiful, hazel eyes and yes, with gold flecks”. Now if you could see this high school girl when she was told she had ‘gold flecks’ in her eyes the kid just about came up off the chair in delight.
I learned to explain to the portrait subject as I adjusted my lights and reflectors during a photo session how beautiful their eyes looked and with the addition of the last light or reflector that now their eyes really look amazing.
Summing up for all my portrait friends, focus, literally on their eyes. Focus, figuratively on the lighting and your conversation to emphasize the beauty and importance of their eyes. Their eyes are like my sports colleague felt, “the window to their souls”. Remind the loved ones of your subject these same ideas.
Oh, don’t forget to present the idea to the parents that a wall portrait, grouping or composite proudly displayed within their home will do a lot to enhance the self image of their children.
“The face is a picture of the mind with the eyes as its interpreter.”― Marcus Tullius Cicero