Important Questions in Photography: Where is the Subject Looking?


The eyes are a very captivating part of any portrait. When onlookers see that they are looking at something, they will be curious as to what it is. So how does where they are looking impact the picture?

Where they are looking in the photo can make a difference as to how it’s viewed or received.

Here are a few examples of this:

If a child is looking at a plate of cookies, the viewer may be pulled into a sense of longing, and the cookies would ultimately become the focus of anyone who saw it.

If you saw two people looking at each other, you would get the sense that they were in a relationship or that they were close with one another.

If you saw there was only one person in the photo, and they were looking away from the camera, then the onlookers might want to know what it is they are looking at.

Looking Away From the Camera

You can either choose to have an object in the shot that the subject is looking at, or you can choose to leave that off screen. Both of these options will give a different emotional meaning, so consider this when creating the shot.

Also, if you chose to have an object within the shot, it will most likely become the focus of the shot. If you’re looking to highlight the person, then you might want to leave the other objects out.

Looking At the Camera

When your subject is looking straight at the camera, there isn’t really a choice but to focus on them!

Be aware that having such a direct gaze can be somewhat strong and has the ability to create tension. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but something to keep in mind when creating the shot.

Take a moment before posing to consider where the subject is looking, and what sort of effect this might have on the shot.

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