How to use your emotions to take better pictures

  • pic of boy playing on an iPhone by Emily Ingalls

How to use your emotions to take better pictures

Photographers are creatives. We see the world differently with our eyes and through our cameras. Through our photography, we express ourselves and want to convey to others how we see the world around us.

Being creative tends to mean we feel more. Our emotions run stronger. We, like everyone else, go through the full gamut of emotions, but our hills tend to be higher, and our valleys deeper.

As photographers, we pour our heart and soul into what we produce. We want our clients, our family, and ourselves to be happy and satisfied with our work.

However, we are still people. Life still happens. We still have to deal with love, happiness, loss, heartache, troubles, stress, depression, and happiness.

How can we use our creative outlet to work through our whole emotional range?

1. Use photography as a pick me up

If you are feeling down, stressed, or unhappy, go out and shoot something happy and upbeat. When I shoot happy, joyful photos, I’m around happy people. The happiness rubs off and lifts my spirits; therefore, photography makes me happier.

picture of kids happily swimming in a pool by Emily Ingalls

2. Shoot the emotion you feel

Every photographer gets in a funk. It’s inevitable. Life gets stressful and we aren’t happy with what we’re shooting. It happens. Go, seek out and shoot your emotions. Feeling dark and gritty? Grab some dramatic light and shoot in B&W. Feeling nostalgic? Shoot those small, fleeting moments that will only be around for a little while. Show the world what you’re feeling.

photo of boy watching fireworks by Emily Ingalls


photo of boy sitting by himself by Emily Ingalls


photo of two kids fighting by Emily Ingalls


3. Embrace the emotions in your editing

My edits reflect what I’m feeling at the moment. When I’m feeling happy and joyful, my editing tends to leans toward bright and vibrant with color. I find myself seeking out happier moments with my subjects. When feeling down, stressed, angry or overwhelmed, my editing changes to moody and high contrast B&W.

colorful picture of boy holding a leaf by Emily Ingalls

black and white portrait by Emily Ingalls

4. Challenge yourself to take Self Portraits

Let’s face it, photographers, in general, do not like being on the other side of the camera. When I am my own subject, I can find some kind of flaw in almost every single photo. That being said, self-portraiture is the single best way I have found to showcase my emotions. I was going through a lot of turmoil earlier this year, and I sat and cried one afternoon. I was a broken mess. When I was finished crying, I looked in the mirror and saw the horror that was my face. I knew then and there I had to capture it. It was the only way to convey my exact feelings at the moment. And I did. Afterward, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders.

black and white self portrait of woman crying by Emily Ingalls

Not feeling confident in yourself? Pull out that favorite pair of jeans you always wear when you want to feel great (because we all have that one pair!), grab your sexy dress or a cool pair of shoes you love! Put them on and shoot! A simple change of wardrobe and self-portraiture will make you look at yourself differently.

black and white self portrait of woman by Emily Ingalls

Photography is a reflection of you. It’s how you see the world around you. Why not challenge yourself to use it to its fullest extent to help you in your photography journey and in your personal life?

Photographers see the world differently with our eyes and through our cameras. How can we use our creative outlet to work through our whole emotional range?


About the Author:

Emily is a lifestyle and documentary photographer serving in the Round Rock, Austin and Central Texas area. A graduate of Texas State University and LSU, she spent 10 years in the recreation and fitness industry which shows up in her martial arts, fitness and sports photography. She has also embraced self portraiture as a therapeutic outlet. Emily loves capturing light and life as it unfolds in homes and outside while creating naturally dynamic, storytelling images. Emily is a mom to 4 children who keep life busy and entertaining. Visit Emily Ingalls online.

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