We prefer pictures of people in which their pupils are open wide more so than pictures of people in which their pupils are closed down. That’s one reason why we like pictures of people taken in subdued lighting conditions, in the shade and on cloudy days - situations where the pupils are open wider than they are in bright light and on sunny days.
Black-and-white portraiture is attention getting, but contrast is actually more important than removing the color from an image. So think contrast - which you can add with a reflector or flash - when taking people pictures.
The majority of famous painters “illuminated” their subjects from above and to the left. For whatever reason, we seem to like that kind of lighting. Here are three of my pictures that illustrate that lighting technique. Hey, if it works for famous painters and if it works for me, it will work for you!
In very low light and at night, your eyes have an ISO of about 800. Mid-range digital SLRs have a high ISO setting of 1600, and high-end SLRs have high ISO settings of 1600, 3200 and even higher! So in effect, a camera can see better at night that you can - so don’t stop taking pictures when the light gets low and when the sun goes down.
We see colors differently at different times of the day - depending on our mood and emotional sate. Before you make a print, look at it on your monitor at different times of the day to see if you still like your original version. You may want to tweak the color to get the color you like best.Also keep in mind that difference cultures “see” colors differently. For example, in Mexico, blue not black, can signify mourning. Knowing that can help you tell a story - and a different story to a different audience.
You can learn more fact about people pictures, and why we like them in one of my favorite books: Perception and Imaging by Dr. Richard Zakia.
You’ll find more info on seeing at iLab.
Explore the Light,