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Conveying Emotions

Lesson 12 from: Adventure Photography Pro

Alex Strohl

Conveying Emotions

Lesson 12 from: Adventure Photography Pro

Alex Strohl

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Lesson Info

12. Conveying Emotions

The fact alone that an image can make someone feel something, is remarkable. Learn about the different ways you can be strategic with making your audience feel an emotion.


Class Trailer



Workshop Intro






Gear - My Camera Bags


Mastering Camera Settings


Blue Hour, A How-To


Photos That Move Us


Visual Storytelling 101


Endurance In A World Of Sprinting


Keeping Your Ideas Fresh


Building Your Story Arc


Shooting More: Action Plan


Conveying Emotions


In the Field


The Assignment: Himalaya Pre-Pro


In the Field: The Himalaya Defender Shoot


The Assignment: Canon Pre-Pro


In the Field: Canon USA Shoot




Keywords & Organizing Images


Commercial Grading


Masking & Radial Filters


Perspective Correction


HDR (Hand-Held)


Black & White Edits


Before & Afters


Moody Grading


IG Export Settings


Web Export Settings


Clone Stamping & Patch Tools


Grading in Lightroom


Hand-Held Panoramas


Radial Filters Pt 2


Delivering Files to Clients


Archiving & Organizing Images


My Favorite Software




Let's Talk Business


Building A Desirable Portfolio


How to Contact Clients


Prospecting: Finding Brands That Fit You


Getting Clients To See Our Value


Paid to Travel the World


The Art of Making Moodboards & Treatments


Keys To A Fulfilling Career


Three Things You Need To Know Before Pitching


Finding Your Value Proposition


Media Kit: A Walk Through


How I Built My Audience


Social Media Landscape


Module Recap


Bonus - Everything To Know About Filters


Do You Need Lens Filters?


Filters in The Field


Bonus - Find Your Path


Find Your Path


Bonus - How To Print Your Work


Why Print or Sell Photos


Preparing Photos for Print


Reviewing Major U.S Printers


Lesson Info

Conveying Emotions

(gentle music) Being able to move people through photography is one of my greatest pleasures in life. And I don't say this lightly. The fact alone that an image can make someone feel a certain way, still blows my mind. I feel like as a photographer, this is a great responsibility to bear, and my most sincere intention is to use that wisely. The base here is that there isn't a step-by-step recipe to convey emotions in your work. It's not like top three things to do to do that. However, there's ways you can get as close as possible. And to me, everything begins with one word. Empathy. (camera shutter clicks) Here's two insights on empathy. First is put yourself in the shoes of the person you're photographing. Read the situation, then adjust. Number two, put yourself in the shoes of the viewer. In what context is the viewer going to see this image? In a magazine, in a show, on Instagram, on your websites? Will they have time to go through the image or will they not have any time? So jus...

t think about that environment the viewers gonna be in before you even produce the image because that may alter how you build your scene. And honestly, the fact alone that you're doing either of those things puts you in a small group of photographers who want to understand how emotion work, how it drives change, how we process visual information. And just that will set your work apart. So just start with empathy. Now let's talk about bringing the viewer in. One very effective way you can have your audience be in the front seat with you is to feature subjects in your work, humans. We've all seen this photo of the back of somebody's head looking at a beautiful vista. (camera shutter clicks) It works. We, as the viewer, imagine that we're there with them. You know, I strive to include subjects in my work in new and creative ways to go beyond. (upbeat music) (camera shutter clicking) But the lesson here is that the more humans in your work, the more empathy you will create in the viewer. Because humans look for humans in photos and it works. (camera shutter clicks) This one sounds a bit cliche. Of course, we think we're there, but are we? when I look at images from five years ago, some I don't even recall taking. And that means I was just too focused on getting the shot. Without the shadow of a doubt, these images I don't even remember taking, they probably feel flat now and they don't carry much. For the past three years, I've made it a point to shoot less images and to do so with way more intention. So once I leave the doorstep or the car I'm traveling in, the tent, I do my best to be there. I start looking at the trees, at the ocean, hear a bird. What bird is it? I watch the pattern that my boots leave in the mud. All these things are just part of being present. Honestly, it's harder than it sounds because we always revert to our internal thoughts when we're outside. But I just force myself to go back here. When we're in tune with the moments we photograph, they carry that much more weight. And ultimately, our emotions at that moment shine through our work. (camera shutter clicks) Another big one is that you need to have a theme through your work. Let's look at a few examples here. (camera shutter clicking) My good friend Chris Burkard. When I look at his photos, I feel like stoke, love, excitement. He's excited to be in these crazy places, and I feel that. Next up, good friend Forrest Mankins. I just feel one word. Nostalgia. This craving for these past moments, and I feel that. Benjamin Hardman. What do I feel? Cold. Honestly, I feel cold. And that's the way he wants to make me feel. Looking at Galen Rowell, legendary outdoor photographer, I feel serenity. I'm in awe. All these photographers have a theme that runs through their work, and we feel a certain way when we look at it. You need to think about that for you. Their work says that because they just feel that way when they're shooting. They identified that long ago, and now it's become part of their signature. For me, for example, it's about details that remind us our place in nature and how we as humans interact with the outdoors. (gentle music) (camera shutter clicks) I want the viewer to feel at peace when they view my work. I want the silence to come through. Just look back at your work and try to describe it. And if you can't, have your peers describe it. Ask a friend. Please, just don't blatantly copy someone else's work. It won't take you very far. And it for sure won't convey any emotions. You might be able to hack yourself out for a few months or years, but it won't hold up because it will be hard for you to talk about it because you won't feel anything about it. So just do it for yourself. Let's go over a few other examples. (camera shutter clicks) In this photo, I was on a kayak on a lake and there's this lone tree barely way up there in the mountain. So I turn around because I wanna take a photo of it. So, go back to the car, I grab my 100-400, because I saw that tree, that lonely tree, and it's like one of a thousand in there. I zoomed in pretty close. And that's the way I felt in that place. A small kayak adrift on this massive lake. And in a strange way, I could identify with that tree. (camera shutter clicks) This photo is one of my favorite photos ever. I liked looking at it because of a few things. My connection to the subject, Andrea, my wife. Also because of the moment. We hit the road very early before sunrise, and she fell asleep as soon as she got into the car. She usually does that. As the sun rose, I kept looking over my shoulder at the light on her, and it was so soft. I just had to stop. I just parked slowly. And she was sitting the wrong way from my camera, so I tip-toed out of the car, sort of closed the door, and shot the frame from the other side of the car outside. My favorite photos are often the ones where people don't see me. She was blissfully unaware of the camera, and that carries, to me, a more sincere emotion. (camera shutter clicks) With this image, I have one clear message. Cold. I was cold. The subject was cold. And the fact that I waited until blue hour to shoot emphasizes that. Blue means cold subconsciously. And the light is really soft, and the subject is wearing all their layers, right, 'cause we waited for that blue hour. So all these things drive the photo towards that cold feeling. So I walked around the subject looking for the largest snow drifts I could find, just so I could carry even more cold. It was windy. Just take your time. Even when you're in an uncomfortable place, to properly scout around, be intentional with your message and match that to the conditions. (camera shutter clicks) This is a photo of Julian that's at the end of the day in the Swiss Alps. We're just coming back from a long hike and we're pretty thirsty and quite sweaty. And just having access to the spring water stream that's coming out of nowhere was pretty crazy. It's a pretty normal thing for Switzerland. For most of the world though, there's no spring water coming out of everywhere. So I wanted to make a photo that was almost eerie. The light's surreal. He's just drinking away out of that stream. I wanted the viewer to feel like they're just waiting for their turn. Because that's what I felt. I was just waiting for my turn. So I just framed it in a way that feels like that. Okay, you've seen the example. That's the way I try to bring emotions into my photographs. I try to be in tune with my mind and what's happening in front of me, either it's before the shoot or just while I'm taking the photo. So I just try to be very curious and I try to focus on everything that's happening. I'm like in this hyper-aware sense. And keeping that sense super sharp will just help you bring all these emotions in because you've been feeling them for the whole day.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

A Note From Alex

Ratings and Reviews


Not What I Was Expecting Let me just start by saying that the workshop was very good. There were lots of things that I learned and many insights I took away. Perhaps the greatest bit of wisdom imparted to me was not anything Alex said but how he approached every subject he talked about. I felt that he was talking to me as a friend, very personal and open book. This was both a blessing and a curse as the course tends to meander around and is not as structured as others I've taken. Alex's passion for the highest quality, and craftsmanship in every aspect of his business, is very evident. From the premiums he charges, to the attention to detail in client deliveries. This is where my review is going to give some hopefully constructive criticisms. For someone so focused on a premium experience I was a surprised to find the course a bit sloppily assembled, and the videography and editing lackluster. This is coming from a videographer and someone with a lot of experience in online training. A few short examples to illustrate my point include: repeating segments of the edit (in some instances the exact same segment), poor framing. Colors changing between cuts, and my biggest pet peeve, not leaving photo examples on for long enough to see them. These are all small things, but they add up, and along with the topics meandering, left me a bit disappointed. I'm curious who you would say this class is aimed towards. Amateurs, mid-level, or experts? The assumption of who you are addressing changes throughout the course. I feel like with a bit of work from an instructional designer, and some editing cleanup, you could help hone this course to be one of the best out there. I feel like I need to do a more in depth review than will fit here, to actually explain this well. Let me know if that would be helpful to you. One other note: When I signed up for a workshop on Adventure Photography, I honestly thought it would be more field focused. The field examples were all shoots for products, and not shoots documenting an adventure. I guess I had just hoped to learn that side of the storytelling process more. Getting into the nitty gritty of being wet, cold, and dirty, and still shooting bangers. The section on filters (going out and building the snow cave) was more what I thought this course was going to be. Anyhow, with all that said, I still found it valuable and worthwhile. To summarize, the course feels a bit unpolished and in some ways unfinished though there is still great value. I've taken Jimmy Chin's Masterclass on adventure photography and it felt very structured and highly polished. I purchased "Adventure Pro" on the "finish in a month" discount. I would have felt ripped off if I had paid full price with the course in its current state. Thanks for reading and I hope my criticisms come as helpful. As I've already mentioned I'd be happy to further elaborate.

Topher Hammond

One of the best photography investments I'm only 1/4 of the way through Alex's course and I feel like I already have a loose plan on how I can move forward in my own career as a photographer. I felt like my work was lacking a specific feeling. The way that Alex articulated ideas on how to convey emotion in your imagery and building that overarching story arc for your own life narrative were super helpful to focus on how to make my work better. Super looking forward to the rest of this course. Thanks Alex and team!

Sergi Mas de xaxars Rosell

Great Workshop I learned quite a lot with this workshop. Because I'm in the industry for 5 years now, there were a few things I already knew. On the other hand, Alex showed me different and more effective ways to improve my business. I like the way he gives the lessons, always in a personal and close way. This is the knowledge I wish I had when I started. Totally worth it!

Student Work