Eye Contact – Subtle but important

In Wildlife by Patrick

As photographers, we are taught that the eyes on the subject have to be sharp. No argument here as that can make or break a portrait whether shooting people or wildlife. Having the eye contact with the subject helps connect the viewer to the subject. This got me thinking while shooting in my backyard the other day. What type of eye contact is the best. I took these two pictures moments apart and each have eye contact, but which is better?

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Not a trick question as I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. It is a matter of preference and how it fits into the story you are telling. The picture on the left has the bird intently looking in my direction, but is it looking at me? In this case it is not. Another male downy woodpecker happen to be at one of my feeders and she was staring longingly at him, waiting her turn. Had I not mentioned that would anyone have known. The second frame has the bird looking at me as I am snapping the shot. Personally I like the picture on the right better for that simple reason. Think about the eye contact when shooting your wildlife subjects. It can make for a stronger image.

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