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Eyeline: Where Is the Subject Looking?

When you're photographing people, pay attention to where their eyes are looking, because the subject's gaze can dictate a lot about the feel of the shot (see Figure 4):

  • Looking straight into the camera: This shot will have intensity and directness.
  • Looking off-frame: The viewer's eyes will tend to follow those of the subject, so if the subject is looking off-frame, it will likely pull focus from your shot.
  • Looking at something in the frame: This will tend to center the shot. If your subject's eyes are wandering, your shot will have motion, and can even feel anxious or unsteady. (This isn't necessarily a bad thing.)

Playing with eyeline is a fun way to change the feel of your shot. Occasionally this technique will require the participation of your subject.

Figure 4

Figure 4 Combined with her expression, this subject's eyeline clearly tells the viewer where the excitement is.

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