subcontography

How often do you notice your reaction to a particular photo you see in a magazine or on Instagram? Why some profile pictures look trustworthy and win your business while others turn you away? Why you scroll impatiently through some Instagram photos, while others make you stop, look, like them and look again?

The secret is in our subconscious that reads more than we think we can see. Let’s look at the example below…

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What do you think about this woman? She is confident and a good leader, isn’t she? Melissa asked me to help her with profile pictures and photos for social media. We won't reveal what our goal was just yet, but notice that there are no other objects in the picture that would help to create a story. Then what is your impression built upon?

Left. Right. Center. 

Our subconscious sees left as our past and right as our future. Positioning Melissa right in the middle gives your brain a sense of the present moment. You can use this knowledge in your family photos too but remember to play a “balance trick”: place the youngest person in the past (left) and the oldest person in the future (right). Why? Because there is enough energy in babies to make the past feel like the present and placing grandma on the right will “charge” her with a lot of live energy and bring her to your future. Get the idea?

Pose

We would not get the same confident feeling if Melissa was, for example, leaning against a wall. What do we feel when someone is using a wall or some other support? Our subconscious thinks that the person is not strong enough to stand on her/his own feet. Do you know what is the steadiest shape? A triangle! It’s inherently rigid! And that is what we have here!

Melissa is looking directly at you. Her arms and hands are visible and in an open position. She is ready for communication. Her slightly open mouth gives your brain a hint that she is about to start a conversation... If she had crossed her arms on her chest, the feeling would be completely different. You would probably feel some distance and maybe even some arrogance.

Colors

Let's see how each color affects our subconscious.

Blue gives us a feeling of strength and makes this person feel trustworthy. Yellow is very optimistic and a happy color. White is all about honestly, purity and a new beginning. Red is the color of passion and courage.

A good balance of colors in the photo will define the focus. In the example photo, we have an optimistic, brave, strong and trustworthy woman who is ready to lead you on your new endeavor. Red lipstick added just enough red to feel the courage. If instead of red lipstick, she wore a red suit, how would your feeling about this photo change?

These are just a few aspects of this big and interesting topic. I could talk more about the background of the photo (natural, with texture, neutral, but not plain) or how we achieved a formal, but not boring, outfit (hint: don’t wear a plain white shirt). Or what objects (phone, notebook, cup of coffee, watch, etc.) we could add into the picture to send another message to the viewer’s mind. By now you are probably wondering how terribly difficult it must be for a person to think about it all and still look natural. Well, ask Melissa (you can find her review on my Facebook page). :) She had no clue that all this work was going on in the background. In our photo session we just had fun and chatted about life. 

In the same photo session we created a few more completely different stories/moods. Here is one of them...

Try to analyze it in a similar manner. What does this photo make you feel and why? I would be happy to hear your thoughts! Please share them with me here.  

PS Can you guess what business Melissa is in?

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