Human emotions are best represented in close-up portraits than picture of people from head to foot in a certain or non-certain environment. But to give a contra-example: sadness is a human emotion; sadness is felt be the one who looks at a picture in which a man is sitting next to a grave.
When thinking about capturing human emotions in Photography, you should make the difference between spontaneous and classic. Classic is when you tell your model to “play” a certain emotion, but, in Photography, acting will never have the same impact as spontaneous natural feelings captured in the reality of the surrounding.
Joy, sadness, desperate, fear, etc transfigures the face of people and if well represented and captured, we fell a bit of what they felt. Think for a bit at the impressive pictures taken in Iran, Africa, India – people in war, people dying of hunger: the expression on those peoples faces make the word shake.
Emotions vary in intensity and, depending on the subjects personality, they will be more or less shown. Sometimes its all about being at the right time in the right place. But still there is a trick for emotions hunters: photograph people before they notice you are around. Technically, use the zoom to get the attention closer to the face.
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