Using Eyes to Make Great Travel Photos

Want to make sure your travel photos have impact? Check out this excellent video by award-winning travel photographer Mitchell Kanashkevich. He goes beyond the the standard tips and in less than ten minutes describes how to add emotional weight and a sense of story to your images—all by paying attention to where the eyes are looking:

Most photographers know that eyes are important, but not everyone can explain exactly why. It’s even harder to explain just how to tell a story in your photo. This doesn’t seem to daunt Kanashkevich, whose tutorial puts both of these together in a very understandable manner.

“The eyes of the subject drawing our attention and guiding our gaze is a big, big deal. In photography this is what story telling is all about.”

It’s about capitalizing on the “visual weight” the eyes and gaze bring to the photo and using it to direct the audience’s gaze (and therefore the story).

Eyes looking at something outside the frame

If you’re going for impact and intensity, having your subject look straight at the camera might be the best choice. But if you’re going for a stronger story element, capturing the subject looking at something (whether in the frame or not), will direct the viewer to follow the gaze. (It also feels more candid.)

“Their eyes guide our eyes.”

For the strongest sense of story, Kanashkevich suggests capturing the subject looking “at someone or something within the frame. Whatever they’re looking at gains a purpose, in a sense.”

creating story with where the eyes are looking

What’s fresh about this tutorial is that Kanashkevich is teaching us how to see the world and read between the lines, the way our viewers often do. And rather than simply recycling the standard old tips in a different package (shoot during the golden hour, use the rule of thirds and leading lines, etc.), he teaches about more organic ways of composing photos. He also has some fantastic examples. Definitely refreshing!

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