How to Evoke More Emotions in Your Photos

eric kim street photography black and white hands hanoimonochrome -0005801

One way to make better photos: add more emotions in your photos.

1. What is the purpose of art?

eric kim street photography hanoi ricoh gr ii-0003866

Today I learned the word ‘aesthetic’ comes from a combination of ancient greek words— one referring to ‘sense perception’ and the other one about ‘feeling.’

Aesthetic: from Ancient Greek aisthētikós, “of sense perception”, from aisthánomai, “I feel”).

Which made me realize; photography is all about evoking feelings and emotions in both you and your viewer.

2. The world needs more photos with emotion and soul

eric kim street photography hand gestures-11

A photograph without emotion is dead.

The purpose of a photograph is to stir the emotion of your viewer. To change the thoughts of your viewer. To make your viewer see the world in a different way.

The purpose of a photograph (for you) is to evoke some feelings in your heart. Your soul. Photography should be a chance for you to see the world in a unique perspective.

3. Don’t get distracted

eric kim street photography hand gestures-10

Don’t care so much about your composition in your photos, and certainly not how many social media followers or likes you will get.

You want to keep making photographs to make sense of the world. Not to just make photos.

4. Practical tips on how to get more emotion in your photos

eric kim street photography hand gestures--3

To evoke more emotion, here are some tips:

a. Photograph hand-gestures

Photograph people’s hands against their face, hips, and covering their eyes. The best way to show emotions and feelings in your photos is to photograph hand-gestures.

eric kim street photography hand gestures-1

b. Feel what you photograph

eric kim street photography - hanoi-0005036

If you cannot feel what you photograph, how do you expect the viewer to also feel what you see?

When you make a photo, how do you feel? Depressed? Uplifted? Soulful, lost, or alone?

eric kim street photography - hanoi-0005038

The cliche is to shoot black and white for depressing and sad photos. And color for happy photos. You can do either or— or maybe even switch it. Try to make intentionally sad and moody photos from color, and happy uplifting photos in monochrome.

The aesthetics of your photo (how you post-process your photo) will reflect the emotion in your photo. So post-process well.

For me, I try to post-process my photos to evoke a feeling in myself. So I must make photos that make me feel emotional, before sharing with others.

c. Shoot self-portraits of your own emotional state

eric kim photography hanoi-3 self portrait

If you feel pissed off, shoot a self-portrait of yourself. When you feel happy and excited, photograph how you feel. The emotions will pour forth with authenticity.


Feel what you photograph, and photograph what you feel.

Otherwise, what is the point of photography?


Learn How to Photograph Emotions in Your Photography >

Scroll to Top