I opened up the Facebook app on my iPhone this morning as I do most mornings and there was a little 1 in my Facebook inbox. There was an email from a photographer in Tennessee who asked me this question and title of the post, “Robert, what gives and image heart and soul?”
Each artist may have a different answer to this question as a photograph is subjective. I do think an image with a person or people in them can have more heart and soul qualities to them, since human beings have both. Let’s specifically talk about wedding photography since this site deals with wedding photography and the photographer who wrote to me, Steve Chastain, is also a fellow wedding photographer.
Put simply, an image with heart comes from an expression of the heart or a place of feeling or emotion. If you’re going to touch the heart with your photography it must come from the heart as well.
A photograph is split second frozen in time; that moment captured makes us feel something every time we view it. It may be a reminder of the past or something that is dear or sentimental to us such as a grandparent or a pet. There are many possibilities that might move or stir the heart. Listening to your own heart, or what I like to think of as your inner gravitational pull, is your personal truth or blueprint. It undeniably defines who you are as a human being and your expression as an artist. The images you shoot are what separate you from all other photographers. Your eye or vision is an expression of your heart and soul and like a fingerprint, it makes you distinctive.
When we capture emotion in an image such as joy it makes us smile and fills our heart with joy. When we capture humor we laugh, and of course if the moment captured is sad it may bring a tear to our eye and make us sad too. This is our heart reacting to the photograph, and helping us to feel the moment deep within in our lives.
When a photograph has soul it draws you in and keeps your attention, provoking deeper thought. An image with soul engages the viewer and speaks to them calling forth a deeper feeling or thought summoning the heart, causing one to ponder, invoking an emotion from our own heart and soul.
As a photographer if you put yourself in the shoes of your subject and attempt to feel what you are seeing through your lens, you will be more connected to your subject and hopefully experiencing similar feelings the exact moment you click the shutter. The image you capture will convey your subjects heart through your photograph.
So in answer to the question “What gives and image heart and soul?” you, the photographer do. Your heart connecting to another, affects many.
Your photography is an expression of your heart and no one else. Go out and shoot for you; nurture your soul. If your photography fulfills you, and you’re shooting what you want and not just what you get your work will flourish and you will then grow as a photographer. Sometimes we have to photograph things at weddings that are not that rewarding or creative. Make sure you give yourself time to play as well and shoot what you want to nurture your soul. Try something new to get out of your comfort zone and force yourself to experiment and play. Listen to that little voice inside, the one that’s always there and always talking to you. Feel photography, experience the photograph, put yourself in your subject’s shoes, tell a story with a single click of your shutter and get excited. You have an important job as the visual historian at the wedding. Your images are going to be viewed for many generations to come. Let your viewers know your heart even decades after you are gone. Touch their hearts and let them say, “Wow, that photographer had soul.”