The role of empathy in portrait photography
It teaches you to look deeper and to feel things on a deeper level which inherently demands empathy to create something compelling. When I look at portraits that I find compelling, I can’t help but feel that the most important variable that’s responsible for taking a good portrait is empathy. And I define “good” to me as meaning compelling or making you feel something. This, of course, is subjective but it’s hard to imagine you can make an emotionally compelling portrait without the ability to perceive underlying emotion in others to then translate onto a photograph.But how can you make the viewer feel something if you’re focused on yourself, your techniques and not connecting to the subject? Being able to connect to that person or that subject is empathy.
You start to put yourself in their situation, to feel what they feel, to seek to understand their perspective on life or to sense what they are feeling. I think this is what people call having a connection which most of us probably feel with our closest friends.With my closest friends, they simply know what I’m feeling without having to ever ask and they know what to say without any prompt. There’s no mystery because this empathy exists. But the essence of any true human connection is empathy, whether it’s your best friend or a stranger.