3 Easy ways to bring emotion into your pictures

  • kids laughing in a chair and reading books picture by Kristy Dooley

I recently spent some time flipping through photo albums with my girls.

It’s always fun to hear the excitement in their voices when they come across an image they love and together we decided on some favorites.

For me, I noticed my favorites are the ones that not only bring me back to a specific moment, but that evoke a certain feeling. Images that not only remind me of how something was but how it felt.

Would you like to bring more emotion in your own work? Try these three tips…

1. Shoot what YOU like.

My favorite aspect of photography is the ability to capture a moment that otherwise is gone forever. I love using my camera to not only capture moments but to create memories for later in life.

As photographers, we do so much more than simply choosing settings and pressing the shutter. Creating images that speak to us as individuals is such a personal process.

Take some time to look back through family albums. What do you notice most? Which images are you most drawn to? There is no right or wrong answer here… photograph the moments, details, and subjects that make you happy.

child and parent reading a book together by Kristy Dooley

2. Focus on connections and relationships.

Almost all of my personal favorite images contain more than one person. Documenting and capturing the relationships in your life is so powerful and emotional for not only you, but for the subjects you’re shooting.

I love watching my daughters pour over albums saying “Look Mommy! That’s you and me! There’s Grammy! Look – I see my cousins!”

Make a list of the relationships that are most significant in your family’s life now and make an effort to document them. These may include siblings, teachers, neighbors, friends, pets, grandparents, and more.

Most likely, these relationships will change over time so don’t forget to document who you and children enjoy spending time with most right now.

girl feeding a cow photo by Kristy Dooley

3. Make color work for you or get rid of it.

Color plays a huge role in photography. The decision to either include or exclude color from an image is important and I personally believe you should have a reason for your decision.

Often, when I’m behind the camera I think to myself “this light is just perfect for a conversion,” but when it comes time to process it I can’t get myself to convert to black and white. To me, the color is often part of the story and without it something feels missing.

There are other times when stripping an image of color allows my eye to go right to the emotion of the image, without any distraction of unnecessary color. Choosing to process in color or black and white is a personal decision but making it with intention can certainly strengthen the meaning and story of your work.

sisters kissing by Kristy Dooley

About the Author:

Kristy Dooley lives in Vermont with her husband and two daughters. She shoots natural light photography with a passion for macro, portraits, and lifestyle images. She loves focusing on and capturing the details of her family’s daily life and has recently started accepting clients for on-location sessions.


  1. Rachelle Swannie Sep 18 2014 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    Loved this!

  2. AnnaVanDemark Sep 19 2014 at 10:46 am - Reply

    Good tips, Kristy! Photography is really about following our passions and doing it in a thoughtful manner.

  3. Abigail Stewart Sep 19 2014 at 10:58 am - Reply

    Three great tips.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Lacey Meyers Sep 22 2014 at 11:38 am - Reply

    Such great tips! I adore the cow image!

  5. Kristy Sep 22 2014 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    Thanks everyone! Glad you enjoyed!

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