One aspect I always struggled with when I began portrait photography, was taking photos NOT of the subject's face. I can already see the questions you must have reading this. "What do you mean not taking a photo of the subject?" Simple. Exactly what you read.
Photos of the person are the top priority. That is clear. But something I had to learn, was that the details are just as important.
I took this photo at a shoot back in 2019. It was around then I realized that the shoot didn't have to be entirely the subject's face. So I began making sure I took photos of other aspects. This easily became one of my favorite photos from the shoot. There is no discernable person in this photo. It is just her shoes.
This was a big step for me. I began to realize just how little details could have as much of an impact as the photographs of people's faces.
I began exploring what details would tell a story. This one was from an engagement/family shoot. The woman was pregnant, so I had them create a heart over her stomach. It showed off the ring but also showed off the love they already had for their unborn daughter.
This is, like the photo of the shoes, one of my favorite photos from this shoot. The framing, the details, and the story it tells just makes me so happy looking at it!
After doing these two shoots, I started looking for more details I could snap that limited how much of the subject was in the photo. Now, please don't take this as I am cutting the subject out altogether, I'm not. They are in fact the main subject, so the majority of the photographs feature around the person's face. I just wanted to challenge myself to find the details I could show.
My desire to capture these shots grew. I've done more and more where the subject isn't even in the photograph. As seen here. This was from a birthday shoot. I put the shoes and bottle of Sangria up on a table to capture them without the birthday girl. The shot captures the end of the night. A party has ended and the shoes have come off.
I love to structure shoots with these shots. They capture so much. Flipping through these photographs, I wish I had understood their importance when I had first begun photography. Back when I thought that the only good photographs were the ones that had the person's face in them. Or the entire person for that matter. But we all have a chance to grow. So take the shots of the faces, of the full body, but make sure to capture the shots that have little to none of your subject. You'll get photographs that tell just as much of a story. And they may even become some of your favorite photos.