I spent some time recently with someone who had been reading this column and watching my work for some time.  I’m always surprised (and delighted) when I learn someone likes my work because for the most part its very ordinary.  Yet, this person told me there was something in my images which consistently captured his attention so I asked him what images, and asked questions to learn what it was that compelled him to look.

 

After some thought I determined he felt “engaged” with my images.  Every image he showed me had eyes.. and the eyes were imo engaging.  Was it all in the eyes?  Looking back at my workshop curriculum and articles here in this column I certainly teach to capture the eyes.  I work hard to ensure they achieve critical focus on the closet eye, and as much as possible the eyes are conveying a feeling.

Canon 5d Mark II, 85mm F1.2L USM, @F1.2  1/250th  ISO 400, Captured by Workshop Student

 

After some thought I determined he felt “engaged” with my images.  Every image he showed me had eyes.. and the eyes were imo engaging.  Was it all in the eyes?  Looking back at my workshop curriculum and articles here in this column I certainly teach to capture the eyes.  I work hard to ensure they achieve critical focus on the closet eye, and as much as possible the eyes are conveying a feeling.

 

And ‘eyes’ aren’t limited to humans.  Eyes make or break an animal shot as well.  Animal eyes can show dominance, happiness, irritation, or any emotion a human eye can show.  The trick is to match the pose, the look in the eyes, and the image together.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM  @F4 1/250th   ISO 100

 

And ‘eyes’ aren’t limited to humans.  Eyes make or break an animal shot as well.  Animal eyes can show dominance, happiness, irritation, or any emotion a human eye can show.  The trick is to match the pose, the look in the eyes, and the image together.

 

How about concentration?  Sure, eyes, even animal eyes, can show intense concentration and feeling. Even rutting behaviors become apparent in the eyes.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM  @F4  1/800th  ISO 100

 

How about concentration?  Sure, eyes, even animal eyes, can show intense concentration and feeling. Even rutting behaviors become apparent in the eyes.

 

Eyes can also show a feeling of superiority.  You get the “I can eat you if I want” look from some animals as clearly as if they sent you a telegram!

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM  @F5.6 1/250th  ISO 320

 

Eyes can also show a feeling of superiority.  You get the “I can eat you if I want” look from some animals as clearly as if they sent you a telegram!

 

Laughter or mirth is another emotion you’ll see in the eyes.  A feel good emotion easily identified.  And it helps that you’ll see facial signs at the same time.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F8  1/100th  70mm  ISO 100

 

Laughter or mirth is another emotion you’ll see in the eyes.  A feel good emotion easily identified.  And it helps that you’ll see facial signs at the same time.

 

Happiness?  Sure.  The innocent happiness of a young child is easily identified and captured and will engage the viewer in a huge way.  Some images relay this feeling so well you can actually feel good inside just viewing the image of a happy child.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 85mm F1.2L USM  @F2  1/250th  ISO400

 

Happiness?  Sure.  The innocent happiness of a young child is easily identified and captured and will engage the viewer in a huge way.  Some images relay this feeling so well you can actually feel good inside just viewing the image of a happy child.

 

Sultry? Sexy?  Of course.  It’s possible to capture eyes that reach out and pull you right in.  Eyes that you’ll remember long after you’ve drifted off to sleep.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F11  1/80th  ISO 100

 

Sultry? Sexy?  Of course.  It’s possible to capture eyes that reach out and pull you right in.  Eyes that you’ll remember long after you’ve drifted off to sleep.

There are many small details and settings you need to pay mind to when making a compelling photograph, but no detail is more important than the eyes.  Capture the eyes well and the image will make itself.  It’s said that most communication happens through the eyes, so it should come as no surprise you can capture that communication with your camera.  What are your eyes telling us?

 

Until next time..