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What gives a portrait 'wow' factor

Portraits are all about the eyes and the expression.

Look at a picture of somebody and it's likely your eye will go straight to their eyes.

If the picture is really good you'll find it hard to tear yourself away from those eyes.

They'll keep drawing you back, because if a picture could talk - then all the talking is happening in the eyes.

Mum cuddling with baby and shoulder ride with dad for the toddler

Of course the eyes are also connected to expression.

If it's a genuine expression - and not, say, a cheesy smile - then the picture will feel real and authentic.

Creating connection

When I take a child's portrait I want you to really connect with it, to almost feel like your right there in the room with them (#loftygoals).

So I like to photograph in a way that puts all the focus on the eyes.

I want the eyes to have spark and life, because without these things a portrait can feel flat and lifeless.

It's like the person is wearing a mask and you can't tell anything about their personality.

How I make the eyes pop!

The first thing I do is fill the eyes with light.

Take a look at the picture above. See that bright, white shape in the eyes?

It's actually the reflection of the window, but in fancy photographer terms we call it a catchlight.

When it comes to putting life in the eyes catchlights are THE holy grail.

I'm so obsessed with catchlights that even when I'm sitting in a café catching up with an old friend I often find myself looking at the beautiful catchlights in her eyes, wondering if I could pull out my camera for a quick shot.

Portraits without catchlights tend to look a little dead.

Printed and framed picture of an extended family group hung on the wall

Expression is everything (and why I get in so close)

The second thing I do is work on getting genuine expressions out of the child in front of my camera.

My technique is pretty simple.

I like to interact with the child and let them be themselves - I never force children into a pose and I never ask them to smile. Ever!

I love to photograph really close - so close I'm giving my subject high fives or even holding their hand while I'm pressing the shutter (sometimes it is the only way to keep them in one spot).

If they're quiet and shy I'll be soft and gentle in my voice and my movements. I won't have the camera up to my face all the time and I'll be tempting them with all my favourite toys.

But if they're bouncing all over the place I'll be letting them jump and twirl so I can get that dynamic energy in the shot.

This is also my opportunity to pull out my silliest jokes (because my family is so over them - and yes I do google things like 'best fart and poo jokes for kids').

Pop-up Portraits

Would you love to see what magic I can work with your child?

I run Pop-up Portrait sessions twice a year.

Click here to find out more about the next session.



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