Brent Paul just posted Eye Contact Establishes That Vital Connection, the second in a two part series, over on Black Star Rising. I highly recommend reading it. While the point of Brent’s article is about making absolutely sure that the eyes are where our focus is the sharpest, it got me to thinking about eye contact in general. As an event photographer I capture a lot of images without eye contact. This works in event photography because the image is about that moment in that environment and capturing whatever emotion or interaction is taking place. Eye contact isn’t established because I don’t want participants aware that I am capturing their image, thus altering their behavior and changing the moment. So I sneak around hiding behind objects and people and generally lurking in the shadows. This doesn’t mean that eye contact is never made, it’s just not a part of what I am trying to capture, unlike when shooting portraits or other types of images.
I was thinking about my recent shoot with Jess and recalling how impressed I was with her understanding of the importance of eye contact. As I stood behind half a dozen photographers I watched in amazement as she worked the entire group ensuring each had an opportunity to capture an image with direct eye contact. Regardless of how good some of the shots are without eye contact, it’s the ones when she was looking directly into my lens that speak to me (even if she was blaming me for something I’m sure I didn’t do).
On the flip side, eye contact doesn’t always have to be with the photographer. I recently shot a young couple and my favorite image from the set is one where they are making eye contact with each other. The image captures the emotion and sincerity of love. The image tells a story even though their eyes are not trained on the camera.
With all of that said, don’t forget about the eyes. Eyes are one of my favorite subjects because they can say so much about a person. I guess it’s time to pull that personal project out of the cob webs, dust it off, and get moving on it. I wonder where I put my schematics and drawings for a LED light I was going to make for close-up shots of eyes?