body language

Picking up your camera, shooting, and challenging yourself is the best way to improve your photography.  The Creativity Exercises within the Clickin Moms photography forum are a great source for finding new ways to challenge yourself.  On the first Monday of every month the wonderful Sarah Wilkerson posts a new tutorial and challenges our members to shoot with the exercise in mind.  While the exercises are ongoing, at the end of each month we choose a few images as the ‘Editors’ Choice’ and share them here with you on the blog.  How fun is that?!  Today we are sharing February’s exercise with you below!

creativity exercise | body language

body language photo
*image by Genesis ‘kaismom’

When you think of human expression, to which part of the subject are you drawn? Most people are drawn to the face, specifically the eyes and – to a slightly lesser extent – the mouth. It is in the face that we pick up the most obvious emotional cues – sadness, happiness, anger, boredom, contentment, frustration, intensity. As students of human emotion know, however, true feelings are often conveyed by body language beyond the face. Studying body language can be very helpful not only in broadening the way that you shoot, but in being more effective in your photographic storytelling, establishing mood, and heightening your own awareness of the way the moments you capture are likely to be perceived (even subconsciously) by your clients and/or audience. You can use this knowledge to direct your subjects or simply to aid in your observations and know when a moment is just right to illustrate your story or vision.

This month, focus on what the body alone can convey. How can you capture joy without seeing a smile, sadness without including the tears, uncertainty without the furrowed brow? Here are some examples of classic body language cues:

Anger/Aggression: Rigid body, clenched fists, leaning forward, hands on hips

Self-Isolation/Defensiveness: Limbs crossed and/or pulled in very close to the body, head tucked in or turned away, body made as small as possible

Contemplation/Introspection: Body relaxed, fingers touching the face or head

Lethargy/Sadness: Body sagging or hunched, shoulders and limbs loose, chin/face low, hands over the face

Impatience: Body tense, hands on hips or arms crossed, weight shifted to one side or the other

Happiness/Joy: Body relaxed and open, limbs uncrossed or away from the body, chin/face up

When working with two or more subjects, body language cues can help to indicate the connections/relationships between the subjects, and utilizing your knowledge of those cues will greatly improve your ability to capture warmth and affection in family or couples portraits. Look for bodies/faces angled towards each other (or away), physical proximity, whether the chest is opened up towards the other subject, whether subjects are touching, whether arms or legs are crossed, feet facing towards or away, open or closed palms, body rigidity or relaxation, and the mirroring of overall body language.

For the purposes of this exercise, you may not include the subject’s face in the image.
That may involve shooting the subject from the back, cropping below the neck, photographing a figure engulfed in shadow or blocked by other elements … but whatever your approach, no part of the eyes, nose, mouth, etc may be visible. You must rely on the language of the body itself to convey feeling and emotion.

editors’ choice!

body language photo

Congratulations to the ladies below whose photographs were selected as this month’s Editors’ Choices!

Courtney Kirkland ‘mrsckirkland’:

body language photo

Laurie Yuenger ‘LaurieY’:

body language photo

Jane Button ‘cuteasabutton’:

body language photo

Nicole ‘landon409′:

body language photo

Elodie ‘elodie’:

body language photo

Carol Swaitkewich ‘carolswait’:

body language photo


body language photo

Harmony Pyper ‘harmonypyper’:

body language photo

Sarah Carlson ‘SarahCarlson’:

body language photo

Thank you to everyone who participated in the exercise!  We love seeing all the beautiful imagery!

Do you want to participate in the next Creativity Exercise?  Visit the forum here where Sarah has challenged us with the theme “Small Subject, Big World“.  Don’t have a membership to Clickin Moms yet?  Head on over here to sign up!  You can still participate in this ‘Body Language’ challenge by either visiting the forum here or sharing with us in the comments below.  We’d love to see your work!

Read previous creativity exercise tutorials for photographers.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

22 Responses to “body language”

  1. Mar 07 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    congrats ladies on having your images featured here! very thought-provoking images that have me thinking about the story behind the body language.

  2. Mar 07 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    These submissions are all beautiful. Such a fantastic group of creative artists!

  3. Mar 07 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    Love all these wonderful images this month! It is amazing the amount of emotion body language can convey in an image.

  4. Mar 07 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    These images are all seriously incredible! Really emotive and powerful! Love them all! Outstanding work ladies!

  5. Mar 07 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    Oh how much I love these! Amazing entries, and so inspiring!

  6. Mar 07 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    Thank you so much for including my image!!
    These are amazing images to be included in <3

  7. Mar 07 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    these are fabulous! Congrats ladies!

  8. Mar 07 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    Thanks so much for including my shot, ladies! I loved this theme and followed the posts in the forum for weeks so I know how many fantastic shots there were. So honored to be selected from among such a great group of shots!

  9. Mar 07 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    Congratulations everyone! This post is packed with beautiful images.

  10. Sabra
    Mar 07 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    Gorgeous work everyone, congratulations!

  11. Mar 07 2013 at 8:15 pm #

    Wahoo Genesis!!!!

    Awesome photos ladies!

  12. Genesis
    Mar 07 2013 at 8:30 pm #

    Thanks, ladies! I am both honored and humbled to be included in this group. I have loved all of the submissions.

  13. Mar 07 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    I am so honored to be among these amazing photos!!!

  14. Mar 07 2013 at 10:34 pm #

    They are all so wonderful! These creativity exercises are so inspirational. Well done, ladies!

  15. Mar 08 2013 at 12:22 am #

    Beautiful submissions!! Congratulations ladies :)

  16. Mar 08 2013 at 8:10 am #

    So excited to have been included in this month’s choices! Congrats to all the other wonderful ladies who were featured as well! :)

  17. Mar 08 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    A great group of shots! Some great inspiration in these photos.

  18. Kelly R
    Mar 11 2013 at 11:44 am #

    Wow. That first image rocks! What a great group of shots! So inspiring, all of them! <3

  19. Emily
    Mar 19 2013 at 11:11 am #

    WOW!!! So much emotion in these photos! I love them!!

  20. Mar 21 2013 at 10:45 pm #

    Gorgeous photos….very expressive! Congrats ladies ;-)

  21. Mar 26 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    These are all awesome. I can feel the emotion in almost every one of them.


  1. Newmarket NH Portrait Photographer; Wedding & Portrait Photos | Durham-Exeter-Portsmouth-Rye NH Portrait & Wedding Photography - Jane Button Photography - Mar 09 2013

    [...] Click here to view the whole post. [...]

Leave a Reply

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)