Smile and No Smile | Project Development | Surfaces and Strategies |

In my project proposal, one of the stages I wanted to test out was the visual impact between viewing the same image of a portrait twice, one of them smiling and one of them not smiling to see if it creates a contrast which potentially impact the viewers feelings of the image and thought about the subject.

I met up with friend who wants to be a model and put this to the test. Referring to the tips and tricks I learnt from my first set of repeat photography images in Thailand, I used the for corners of my view finder and made reference points to aid me in trying to keep the shots as similar as possible as each other.

Here are the contacts for the shoot…

As before, I had to align the images together. I made use of the ruler tool before cropping…

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Whilst shooting, I found that this time around I was posed with a new challenge in the sense that not only did I have to try and keep the same composition for the surroundings but I also had to keep track of the subjects movements and positioning.

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Here are the first results…


When editing my first pair of images, I felt something was missing. For me, the contrast between the two wasn’t hard hitting enough. And then it dawned on me, I needed to enhance the images in a way which can promote the feelings and emotions of the subject, and so I began to put this into play.

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I started off with some simple edits, adjustment of colour balance and a darker exposure for the non smiling image to tie in with the more serious look of the subject…


I also enhanced the smiling image to left to amplify the colours of joy, now I felt there is a larger sense of comparison between the two images put together.

Moving on, I wanted to increase this contrast and I thought what better way than to go black and white… Black and white has many uses, many of which are pointed out here in this article written by David Geffin in 2014 which displays some impressive works and describes 8 key points to why it is still important to shoot in black and white.

The one I was looking for was number 3…

It Helps Emphasize Emotion

“Looking at someone’s face, or into their eyes, without the distraction of color can provide a stronger emotional connection to your subject. It’s not necessarily always the case, but if like me, you often feel more connected to a person in a black and white image over a color image, this could be the reason why. With color gone, it’s purely about the connection you have with the subject.”

I had never thought about it this way. An example is given further on which I found made some valid points…

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I found this to be very true as I did also focus immediately towards the kiss with no distractions. The mentioning of how colour would give this photo a different impact I would also agree with. He talks about the colours as if they would be distractions, there is no question that colour is bright, powerful and our line of sight is drawn to it when against something dark. For example if the line in the background were in colour as white and red, we’d have a much higher chance of noticing that first. My point here is when editing my images together with black and white for the non smile against a colour for the smile images would hopefully have a, if not bigger contrast comparison impact. Ironically though, I also believe that black and white can drain out positive emotions and can be used to express sadness.

And so I proceeded onto selecting, pairing and editing the remaining images…

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4 (2)5 (2)


The weather was on my side for this shoot, whilst visiting the forest I was gifted with sunlight creeping through the trees. However I was little disappointed in my performance. I haven’t dealt with such harsh natural light in a forest before and I could not find the correct settings to balance the bright sunlight with the lower lit forest therefor, the sunlight in the following images were overexposed…

I enjoyed the shoot and I did like some of the results, especially the ones sitting down. But to honest, I didn’t think the results were that shocking and I didn’t expect them to be at that level. This was a test to see how effective this would be, to see if could twist and impact emotions. Maybe This wasn’t the right model? Maybe I shot too far away from the subject? After having performed this shoot I think it would have been more suited to a close up portraiture themed shoot for a stronger change of emotion to be visible.

I am still very keen on idea that edits can trigger and enhance emotion. For the final part of the edits I added the layers from the negative practice…

A closer look…

What I found interesting about the image to the left is that she lights up like a ghost and the background really lights up. Also in both the images the effect of the layers trickles down one side of the face. I’ve learnt that it was sunlight that caused this…

Although as I also had the task of working with a subject I found that all my images did not align. Some facial expressions worked better than others, the natural expressions. Once I had taken the photo it may already had been taken at a composition that is not aligned with another image that was also worth using if that makes sense. It was challenging experience to work with the environment as well as trying to capture natural expressions with the subject. I enjoyed putting these together, I further strengthened my belief that using the lighting and colour to enhance the subjects or environments emotion and atmosphere is important and effective. It has not only made me think about my project as finding new ways to take photos, but it has made me lean more towards the side of using it to enhancing emotion.



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