The Power of Faceless : 5 Times You Should Consider A Faceless Portrait
one of the biggest things i have learned about photography and storytelling is that you don’t need to include your subject’s face in order to create a strong image. in fact, purposefully creating a faceless portrait has it’s benefits and can actually make an image more compelling. there are several times when you may want to consider omitting your subject’s face in a portrait and so many ways you can do so. while we can tell a lot about a person by their face, sometimes their face can take away from the story we are trying to tell in our image.
if you need help seeing the beauty in the little moments of your everyday, be sure to check out my ebook the everyday photograph.
this post contains affiliate links. thank you in advance for supporting bethadilly photography.
The Power of Faceless: 5 Times You Should Consider A Faceless Portrait
1. To Create Realism
real life doesn’t mean your subject is always looking at you, it means that they are interacting with their environment. a faceless portrait could be as simple as capturing a moment from above, as your subject naturally goes about their activity. in the image above, i purposefully chose to photograph a faceless portrait to keep the viewer’s attention on the block in the baby’s hand. even though the baby’s face isn’t shown, her head is tilted towards the block, guiding us to look at when she is looking at.
need help photographing successfully from above?
2. To Create Surprise or Tension
one of the reasons why a faceless portrait can be so powerful is because it surprises the viewer. the viewer expects to see eyes, nose and mouth when presented with a human subject. by omitting the face entirely, you are creatively creating surprise or tension with your viewer. when a viewer is surprised, they tend to look at a photo a little longer because of their reaction. in the self portrait above, i omitted my face with my moving hair. because i am faceless towards the camera with most of my body within the frame, the viewer would initially expect to see my face. when they don’t, they are caught by surprise, making this a more powerful portrait that leaves a lasting impression…all because it is faceless.
to read more about self portraits, be sure to check out the modern self portrait: how to get more creative with selfies.
3. To Build Curiosity
a faceless portrait is known to surprise the viewer, but it is also known to build curiosity. this can be done by turning your subject away from the camera, or photographing them from behind with their back towards the camera. when a subject is turned away from the camera, whether it is just with their head or with their entire body, the viewer is instantly curious about what is drawing their attention away from the camera. this can help create a stronger image that tells a story. in the image above, the baby’s head is turned away from the camera and looking out the window. this encourages the viewer to wonder what is drawing her attention and makes them think about what is beyond the window.
4. To Create A Story
sometimes it is better to create a faceless portrait in order to tell a clear story. when a viewer is looking at a photo that contains a face, their eye immediately goes to the subject’s eyes. but sometimes, that is not where you want your viewer to look. sometimes that is not the story you are trying to tell. in the image above, i was telling a story of a baby learning to feed herself. i wanted the viewer’s eye to focus on the baby’s hand and the cheerios on the tray. because i knew that the viewer would look at the baby’s face if i kept it within the frame, i purposefully cropped it in camera with my composition when shooting with my wide angle lens.
5. To Be Creative
as we become creative with our photographing and storytelling, this means placing our focus on different focal points in order to tell a stronger story. in the image above, i wanted to tell a story of the baby pulling herself up on the side of the crib and used a low aperture of f/1.4 on my wide angle lens to place sharp focus on her little hands and blur her in the background. because her face is not in focus, the viewer is told that the story is to remain in her little hands.
when taking portraits of people, be sure to consider how creating a faceless portrait can add more interest to your image and build it’s strength. by being creative with your aperture and focal points, using creative crops, shooting from above, having your subject turn away, or purposefully obstructing their face with another object you are helping to create a strong story that your viewer will appreciate. remember, while portraits are beautiful, sometimes a faceless portrait can prove to be very powerful.
be sure to join my exclusive email list to receive my latest photography tips and tutorials. it’s free!
need some photography tips + inspiration? check out what posts are trending below.