Stating facts on why do we say “Cheese” every time we take a photo

The First Man to Create the Term

Who was the first to say “Cheese” is a question you will surely get in every single photography facts quiz. So let’s make sure your team scores that point!


The fun trivia about saying cheese is that we don’t actually know who the first person to say it was! It was probably coined on the spot by some photographer, but the likelihood of us ever finding out their name is slim to none.


We do know one fun photography fact, though. The first notion about “saying cheese” appeared in the 1940s. An article from October 1943 published in The Big Spring Daily Herald and called “Need To Put On A Smile?”


Ambassador Davies was more than happy to share this tidbit with the world: “It’s simple. Just say, “Cheese!” It’s an automatic smile. I learned that from a politician.” 


The “politician” in question just might be none other than Franklin D. Roosevelt, who Ambassador Davies served under.


The second bit of trivia about saying cheese pertains to the “why” part of our question. It really has nothing to do with this delicious dairy product. It all comes down to something much simpler. The first part of the word makes you naturally bring your teeth together, and then the long “e” sound makes you part your lips, forming something close to a smile.

Significant Development in Its Timeline

To be completely honest, we didn’t always showcase our pearly whites for the camera. Another photography fact worth knowing just might be that in the 19th century, only drunkards, peasants, and children used to smile for the camera. Everyone else had to put on a neutral face, which was deemed dignified and desirable at the time. 


Victorian photographers actually used a different phrase with different food. Their equivalent of “Say Cheese” was, in fact, “Say Prunes.” Why? Because it resulted in people tightening their lips, and a small, tightly controlled mouth was considered beautiful. That makes perfect sense since dental hygiene wasn’t exactly a priority in the 1800s.


Photography developed over the years, but it had its fair share of technical limitations. For example, the long exposure time. 1826 brought the very first photograph ever shot: the Window at Le Gras, which took, believe it or not, 8 hours to expose. Then in 1839, Louis Daguerre introduced the daguerreotype and managed to shorten this time down to just 15 minutes. Can you imagine holding a smile for a solid 15 minutes? That would be some Olympic-level muscle exercise.


So when did people switch from prunes to cheese? Around the middle of the 20th century, photography became faster and much more casual. And with those changes came another photography fact. In 1888 George Eastman founded Kodak, and it was Kodak’s $1 Brownie camera that, quite frankly, changed the face of photography only two years later. Ordinary people could afford to buy them, and they were so simple to use that people started capturing everyday moments. And with them came smiles.

Say Cheese Ripple Effect

“You push the button; we do the rest.” That was Kodak’s slogan at the time. And it worked wonders! Kodak cameras, inexpensive and easy to use, brought the joy of photography to the masses. 


Kodak, of course, proceeded to seize the moment by advertising their cameras for all occasions, from super casual to highly formal, and they also marketed smiling faces in photographs. They were most successful, and their marketing efforts likely contributed to the famous “Say Cheese” moment.


With the invention of film came the film industry. Even though most movies made before the 1930s were silent, we could easily see movie posters with the then-famous “gasp” smile. Furthermore, in the movies themselves, we could see our favorite movie stars smiling. With the growing influence of Hollywood, it is not difficult to conclude how saying cheese and smiling in photographs became all the rage.

Countries that Adopted the Words

Ready for yet another Trivia about Saying Cheese? We bet you are!


Not all countries actually use the expression “Say Cheese!” when people are having their photos taken. Some of the quite amusing alternatives involving food are the Chinese “eggplant,” the Norwegian “orange,” the Spanish “potato,” Bulgarian “cabbage,” Polish “jam,” German “cheesecake,” or “sausage,” etc. Meanwhile, most Latin American Countries switched to drinks and now tend to use the phrase “Say ‘whiskey.”


Moreover, there are a number of countries which reference a bird! Serbia, Hungary, and Croatia are some of them. It probably stems from a Victorian tradition in which the photographer had a golden mechanical bird attached to their camera. The “birdies” were animated props that could be made to squawk or warble and, in doing so, attract a child’s attention. The photographer would tell children to “watch the birdie.”


So what do English-speaking countries use? Well, the U.K. and U.S. still mostly use “say cheese.” But it is not only the British and American people that stuck to the dairy product. People in the Czech Republic, Greece, Switzerland, Japan, Turkey, and Slovakia also “Say cheese” or just “Cheese” though in their own languages, not in English, of course.

Do People Still Use It Today?

From prunes to cheese and from cheese to …? Times brings new trends. So do we still say “Say Cheese”? We do, but it seems a lot less prevalent than before. Nowadays, it is an instruction we mostly use when taking photos of children. Or teens and adults, but mostly because the majority of people find this phrase rather “cheesy” and will laugh at it because of how old-fashioned it is starting to become. 


Photographers these days quite often prefer to use something like “Say, one, two, three” because it has the same effect as saying cheese. So perhaps we can argue that this phrase may have become a bit outdated.


Finally, many argue that the word “cheese” actually makes us smile by positioning our mouths in a rather unnatural shape. So, are there any “non-dairy’’ alternatives?  Many photographers advise having people instead say words that end in the ‘uh’ sound. Words such as “yoga” or “mocha.” Supposedly, such words will stretch the mouth into a more natural-looking smile shape. Or just make a bad joke to make people burst out laughing, whichever you find easier!

The Basics of Kitten Play

If you have ever thought that Garfield had such a wonderful life and that you’d be so much happier as a cat, now it is your time. More and more couples across the globe are enjoying pet play, and kitten play is a unique subculture of BDSM. If you want to learn more about how to become a kitty, we will try to cover everything and answer all of your questions.

Pet Play as Dominance/Submission

Dominance and submission is a part of BDSM, and pet play is just one of the categories of Dom/Sub relationships. As with any such relationship, pet play also has an owner-master system, where the submissive person will act as a pet. When it comes to animals, any animal can be involved in pet play. The submissive person can take the role of dog, bunny, cat, or any other animal they see fit.

Common kinks in this unique subculture also involve collars, leashes, and other appropriate things for a “human pet.” Unlike in the regular Dom/Sub subculture, here, the submissive person is not in the role of a slave — they will act as a pet. However, the idea is to act in a way the animal would. Therefore, the pet may go over boundaries that will require “punishment.”

Is Kitten Play Bestiality?

Contrary to popular belief, kitten play has nothing to do with bestiality. The main idea behind pet play is power exchange. Although the relationships are about dominance and submission, they have nothing to do with bestiality. While people still have some animal traits, that’s not the main focus of the relationship.

If you ever had a pet, you know how animals are dependent on their owners. They require us to take them for a walk, feed them, train, and everything else. And this is what kitten play is about. In essence, it is still an owner/owned relationship, the main focus being on power play and submission.

Kitten Play Does Not Require Sex

What is interesting in kitten play is that it doesn’t require sex to be enjoyable. Similarly to how many love bondage and rope play. Bondage doesn’t need to involve sex, and many get the thrill from being restrained or immobile. Kitten play works the same way. People enjoy this unique lifestyle, and its focus is on the exchange of power instead of penetration.

A submissive person enjoys his status, and it doesn’t have to revolve around sex. They will get the opportunity to play the role of a cat and do whatever kittens love to do. That can involve petting, cuddling, sitting in a cardboard box, sleeping, playing with ping pong balls, and everything else you can see on numerous cat videos online.

Kitten Play Costume and Accessories

Since genetically engineered catgirls are not yet available, you will need some kind of costume if you want to be a part of the kitten play. We should mention that you won’t need to get a full cat costume. Usually, accessories are more than enough. So, let’s go through some of the most common things you can get for yourself that will help you become a kitten.

One of the most obvious accessories you should get is cat ears. Fortunately, these aren’t hard to find, and they come in all shapes and sizes. You can get headphones with cat ears, headbands, hair clips, hats, and so on.

The next thing on the list would probably be the tail, and there are two ways to go around this. The first one is to attach the tail to your clothes or underwear. In this case, you will need to get a replica of the cattail. But for those who are into the sexual part of the relationship as well, butt plug tails might be the best option. Anal tails work the same way as any other anal plug. Except that there is a tail at the base of the toy. Today, there is a vast choice of different “animal” tails, but you should look for one resembling a kitty’s tail. Here is to have a better look of what cat tail plugs look like.

Other things you can get are collars, and you can find appropriate clothes like cat socks. However, there is no need to go for a full cat costume (unless you want to). The main focus should be behavior and power play.

Cat Tail Butt Plug Description

There are two parts important for cattail plugs. The first one is rather similar to the regular butt plug. While it may vary, it usually has the same design as the most common plugs with a flared base and pointy top. Naturally, the design may vary slightly, but the main focus is on the second part of the plug, which is the tail.

Tails are designed to look like cats’ tails, and they come in many different colors. Usually, cattails are flexible but less fluffy compared to fox’s tails.

These plugs are usually made of metal, but you can easily find ones made of silicone as well. It is important to find any non-porous material, and most cat plugs online are made using those

The tail, on the other hand, is usually made from synthetic fur, and the length can vary as well. Some models come with a bell, so it would be easier for the owner to keep track of their feline pets.


As that song says: “Everybody wants to be a cat.” If you ever felt like being a cat would be the best thing in the universe, you should probably try kitten play. This unique subculture is a part of the BDSM, and it revolves around dominance and submission.

Now, many make a mistake believing that it has something to do with bestiality. No — the main aspect of this subculture is actually power play. The submissive person can find accessories like kitten ears, and they will act and behave as a cat would. Needless to say, the dominant person will take the role of an owner, and they will take care of their feline friend.

Kitten play can be sexual as well, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s up to you to decide what kind of cat you want to be and finally experience that amazing cat life.

Showing Depth And Emotion In Photos

Marie Curtis, the Australian photographer behind My Captured Life, is known for her ability to show depth and emotion in the images she takes of everyday life. The result is photos that are clearly artistic while still capturing the essence of daily life and childhood.

Marie explores her approach in-depth in her Beyond the Wanderlust workshop Art & SouI: Adding Depth and Emotion to Storytelling Images. When Marie refers to “depth,” she is describing images with three different kinds of depth: great visual or spatial depth; emotional depth showing the ability to engage and connect with the viewer; and creative depth.

Here Marie shares her top five tips for creating depth in images:

Capturing ‘the moment’ and fostering connection

Emotional depth comes from the ability to convey a feeling to the viewer. The most important step in making meaningful images is to capture honest, raw and emotive moments. Whether it is a tender embrace between a mother and child, the moment the cold water hits your subject’s feet, or the moment a giggle turns into a belly laugh – capturing that moment that will elicit an emotional response that will engage the viewer. There are a number of things photographer can do to help themselves recognise the ‘moment’ but the most important thing is to exercise patience and use the power of observation to watch people’s posture, facial expressions, body movements and body language to help anticipate what will happen next. In addition, photographers need to remember that people are complex, multi-faceted human beings so it’s important to remember that ‘the moment’ doesn’t just have to be one of joy. While it’s wonderful to catch a bursting smile, to tell the full story of a person’s individual character, we should not shy away from capturing a range of emotions in our photographs.


Composition is a very important aspect to consider when striving to make images with greater depth. Unlike capturing “the moment,” composition is one area that photographers do have control over. By making intentional decisions about how photographs are put together, photographers can add spatial and emotional depth. Photography is essentially taking a three dimensional scene and replicating it on a two dimensional medium. So how do photographers take something that is essentially a rectangle and give it the illusion of spatial depth? Firstly, they can compose photographs by layering them so that the important elements fall within the foreground, middle ground and background of the scene, drawing the viewer’s eye into the photograph. Photographers can also use leading lines within the scene to draw the viewer’s eyes into the photograph and use framing to bring a greater focus to the subject. Photographers can utilize negative space to give a feeling of isolation and help the subject stand out, or change perspective by shooting from below, shooting from above, or shooting at eye level to change the feeling that is conveyed.

Utilizing light

Light and how you use it is one of the major determining factors for the mood and emotional depth of an image. Light and mood are intimately connected in our minds – the emotional unease you feel walking through a dark area at night differs from the feeling of comfort and nostalgia that is summoned by the golden light of the setting sun. Photographers can use light in photographs to tap into the emotional connection we all have with it. The fall of light and shadow doesn’t just tell us how we should feel looking at the image but also gives us visual clues about the spatial dimensions and depth of the frame. To best utilize light in images, photographers first need to constantly observe how and where light and shadows fall within a frame and adjust their position (or the subject’s position) and exposure accordingly. Whether you are shooting into the light, using low light, soft window light, harsh middle-of-the-day, or golden light at sunrise and sunset, light it is all just a matter of training the eye to notice the subtleties of each kind of light. And don’t forget to crank that ISO if and when you need to!

Embracing movement

Using movement to help tell a story is a great way to add depth to an image. Photography is all about capturing a still image – freezing that tiny fraction of a moment forever. The way photographers use movement in their images can not only make them more compelling and dynamic but also alter the mood of the image entirely. Ultimately, photographers want the viewer to feel as much a part of the scene as possible. Photographers can enhance the viewer’s engagement and experience simply by utilising a fast shutter speed to freeze motion. This is a unique way of seeing rapid, fleeting moments, such as an enthusiastic child mid-jump or the splashing of water droplets, in the kind of detail you wouldn’t be able to take in in real time. In contrast, by utilising a slow shutter speed photographers can cause the source of the movement, such as a fast moving child, to be intentionally blurred giving a sense of chaos and motion.

Embracing creativity, breaking the rules and imperfection

Artistic perfection happens when an emotional response is elicited from the viewer and this can be achieved despite of, or even because of, a lack of technical perfection. Being able to embrace creativity and let go of expectation by simply focusing on the best way to convey a mood can go a long way in connecting on an emotional level with the viewer. Adding creative depth to an image can be done in any number of ways. By carefully observing our environment and embracing points of interest, such as sunbursts, sunflares, shadows, patterns and reflections, and incorporating them into our compositions photographers can add another layer of intrigue and depth to our images.

8 Tips for Capturing Genuine Emotion in Your Photos

Photography may be a highly visual art, but like any other art form, it’s not all about the aesthetics—it’s about telling a story. This is particularly true when photographing people as your subjects. Capturing authentic emotions and feelings in an image is key to creating beautiful, truly compelling images that speak to your audience on a more personal level.

There are many different emotions that can be depicted in an image. In all of our photographs, we strive to highlight joy, happiness, sorrow, despair, and love, although the interpretation can differ depending on the viewer. The challenge in capturing an emotion, however, is in making it appear genuine.

Tips for Capturing Genuine Emotion in Photos

Capture Your Subjects in a Familiar Environment
Taking photos of your subjects in a location that is familiar to them allows them to feel more comfortable with you and your camera. You may even want to choose a place that has special meaning to your subjects, as this can help elicit a strong emotional response.

During the actual shoot, ask your subjects to show you around this particular location—whether it’s their home, the restaurant where they got engaged, or the bowling alley where they had their first date. Encourage them to tell you stories of their special moments and ask them to show you their favorite objects or spots in that particular location. Talking about meaningful events may help your subjects act more naturally in displaying affection, while including relevant elements can help add context to the composition.

Give Minimal Direction and Do Not Intervene
Don’t direct your subjects. Doing so can prevent you from getting their real emotions on camera, as they will be too focused on holding a pose that may or may not come naturally to them. Just guide them minimally on where to place their hands, how to tilt their heads, and more. If you really must provide some direction for the purpose of utilizing the available light or the environment, learn to pose your subjects in a way that won’t make them feel self-conscious or uncomfortable.

It’s important to remember that you should only provide subtle guidance in the beginning. Once your subjects feel more comfortable in front of the camera, allow them to freely interact with each other—and do not interfere. If possible, move further away so they can feel more at ease. The goal is to make your subjects forget that the camera is even there, so strive to make yourself as invisible and unobtrusive as possible.

Note that love can manifest on the face and through hand gestures, so try to focus on or include the face and hands while shooting.

Give Your Subjects Something to Do
The best way to elicit genuine emotion is to have your subjects act as naturally as possible, so make sure the activity you choose will bring that out. For instance, if you are trying to take romantic photos with a couple as your subject, ask them to cuddle or do something they normally do on a daily basis. If you are trying to capture the love between a man and his canine best friend, let them play their usual games, practice their favorite tricks, and do any other activities that they both enjoy.

Allowing your subjects to do other things will help prevent them from consciously or subconsciously posing for the camera, and should enable you to capture their emotions at their most genuine state.

Learn to Anticipate Important Moments
Another thing you must be mindful of when attempting to capture authentic emotions in your photos is to be on the lookout for possible instances wherein you’ll be able to catch your subjects at their most unguarded. These moments can happen when you least expect it, but if you remain alert and observant, you should be able to catch them. Also, make sure that your camera is ready to snap that shot at a moment’s notice—you won’t have time to fiddle around with your settings.

But even when you are able to capture these shots, you shouldn’t stop there. That split-second right after the height of one’s emotions can also be a good time to capture photos, as it is usually during this time when your subject’s face and body become more relaxed and natural.

Focus on the Eyes
The eyes can convey true emotions regardless of what the other facial features indicate. A smiling person can still convey a different conflicting emotion—sadness, despair, and even fear—through their eyes. Therefore, if you want to determine what a person is truly feeling, you only need to focus on their eyes.

However, if a subject’s eyes are closed due to some type of strong emotion, that’s fine. Overwhelming feelings can often make a person close their eyes, such as when they are crying, feeling pain, or experiencing extreme happiness and contentment.

Keep on Shooting
Shooting continuously will allow you to capture all sorts of moments, from the intimate, to the funny, to those other candid yet meaningful shots that otherwise won’t be captured had you not been ready to take them.

Use your camera’s continuous shooting mode and shoot a particular moment in bursts to make sure that you capture plenty of shots to choose from. This gives you a higher chance of getting just the right photo at exactly the right time.

Zoom in on Other Details
“The devil is in the details”—or so they say. In photography, this could not be more true. Focusing on the right details can actually help convey emotions in your photos. You can try zooming in on the body language of your subjects, how their hands grip, their posture, and even tiny details like tears and sweat. All of these details can present you with extremely powerful ways of conveying what your subjects are truly feeling, as these are often harder to fake.

In some cases, these details can also be an object that signifies love, such as the engagement ring on woman’s finger or a child’s worn-out teddy bear that was given to him by his grandfather.

Use the Element of Surprise
Take several surprise shots. This allows you to catch your subjects off-guard, which will help show their natural feelings. Most of the time, surprising your subject can give you the most memorable shots you can hope to get. You can do this during times when your subjects are not aware that they’re being taken a photo of, and during any other instances that you wouldn’t normally take a photo of.

And if all else fails, go ahead and attempt to create posed and carefully planned shots that show the emotions you want to depict in your photos.

9 Ways To Evoke Emotion & Feeling In Your iPhone Photos

One of the most powerful, yet difficult, elements to master in photography is capturing emotion and feeling. A really great image is one that conveys a mood and pulls the viewer into the scene. If a photo tells a story and tugs at the heartstrings, it’s successful. In this tutorial you’ll discover how to use light, location, weather, colors, movement, subject matter and composition to create extraordinary iPhone photos that connect with the viewer, evoking emotion and feeling that help tell the story you want to convey.

Of course, feelings and emotion are subjective, and each of us may feel differently when we look at a particular image. But in general, there are certain things that help to create certain moods in your photos. Knowing how to use them is always going to help you to create more atmospheric and engaging pictures.

As you’re reading through this article, take some time to really look at each picture and think about how you feel and what kind of emotions they evoke. Your feelings may not match exactly to my descriptions, but I hope that they all make you feel something!

So let’s take a look at nine ways to create more meaningful iPhone photos that connect with the viewer because of the mood that you’ve created.

Take Candid Portraits

Photographing people is the obvious choice for creating emotion and feeling in a picture. People naturally convey different moods and emotions by their facial expression, body language, and even their hair style and clothing. All of these things contribute to the story that you’re attempting to tell.

When we take photos of people, we often get them to pose, look into the camera, smile and “say cheese.” But this isn’t usually the best way to capture the true emotion and personality of your subject. It can come across as fake and unnatural, and it’s unlikely to evoke much feeling in the viewer.

Photographing people doing something they love, or going about their daily lives, is often the best way to convey their personality to the viewer. So try taking candid shots of people, where the person isn’t aware that you’re taking their picture.

Photograph your family or friends engaged in their own environment without drawing attention to the camera. That way you’ll capture their true emotions in your pictures. They’re more likely to have the most natural smile, show real excitement, or perhaps quiet thoughtfulness in these situations.

Alternatively, try your hand at candid street photography. Photographing people discretely as they go about their everyday lives can result in the most fantastic images that convey a whole range of different emotions.

Capture Emotion In Posed Portraits

Obviously, you’re not always going to be shooting candid portrait photography. Sometimes you’ll be photographing a specific person and you’ll want them to pose for you. But this doesn’t have to mean that you capture them in a standard pose with a fake smile on their face.

Most people get cheesy or shy when they get in front of the camera, so it’s best to first of all make your subject feel very comfortable. Interact and make conversation with your subject, or make them laugh, in order to help them feel more at ease and draw out their true feelings and emotions.

Have them move around and try many different poses and positions. Try to convey your creative vision to them so they can imagine and portray the emotion. Make it fun so they feel at ease. Try using props so they have something to focus on, making them feel less self-conscious.

Always anticipate what may happen next so that you’re ready with your camera to capture a moment that shows the true personality of your subject, or an expression that will evoke a certain emotion in the viewer.

Photographing your subject while they’re looking away from the camera, letting them decide what facial expression to use, often results in a more natural feel to the image.

That said, a close-up shot where the subject is looking directly into the lens can be very powerful and create a strong connection with the viewer. It just needs to look natural.

Don’t be afraid to try something different. How about asking your subject to close their eyes? This can create a mood of natural tranquility in your photo and a little sense of mystery.

Create Mood With Non-Human Subjects

You may think that you can’t capture emotion with inanimate objects, but you can certainly create mood and atmosphere with any kind of subject. This will evoke particular emotions within the viewer, helping you to tell your visual story.

There are many other things you could use for your subject other than people. Buildings, trees, fog, water, sunsets, landscapes, flowers and animals are all great subjects for moody and atmospheric photos that will create some kind of emotional connection with the viewer.

Find a subject that piques your interest, and think of a way to capture that scene so that it transports the viewer to another time or place, or evokes a certain feeling that makes them engage with the photo.

This might be a feeling of happiness, calmness, sadness, fear, inquisitiveness, or any other other emotion that you want to convey.

Depending on factors such as light, color and composition, you can create different kinds of mood and atmosphere within your photos. We’re going to take a look at some of the ways to do this in the rest of the article.

Let The Weather Create Atmosphere

We can’t control the weather, but we can use it to our advantage to create different moods within our photos.

Sunshine evokes feelings of happiness, excitement and freedom. Try using lens flare to your advantage to create wonderful streaks of light that add a dreamy feel to your photo.

Rainy weather creates a dark and moody atmosphere with its dreary color palette. It can evoke feelings of sadness and lonliness, but you can always add a splash of color with a prop such as an umbrella to lighten the mood.

Think about how different types of cloud affect the mood of your photo. Dark storm clouds will add drama to any image, whereas white fluffy clouds create a care-free, happy feeling. Delicate, wispy clouds tend to create a calmer feel in your image.

Fog and mist are wonderful for creating a mysterious atmosphere in your photos. The viewer will be intrigued as to what lies beyond the mist, and it may even evoke feelings of fear or anxiety.

Use Color To Set The Mood

Color can greatly affect the mood of a photo. Certain colors and tones suggest certain moods that will evoke different emotions in the viewer.

Bright, vivid colors usually convey a sense of happiness and cheerfulness. Vivid colors that contrast with each other can create tension and excitement. Colors that are more subdued and muted tend to create a content feeling of calmness and peacefulness.

The type of light you shoot in can have a big effect on the colors in your photos. The cool blue colors that you get during blue hour (just before sunrise and just after sunset) suggest a feeling of coldness and tranquility, and sometimes even sadness.

Warmer colors, such as the orange hues that appear during golden hour (just after sunrise and just before sunset) tend to be more stimulating and evoke feelings of warmth, happiness and excitement.

Bright whites suggest purity, innocence, cleanliness and perfection. It offers a sense of peace and calm, comfort and hope.

Dark colors and black can be foreboding and intimidating, suggesting apprehension, fear, mystery and sadness.

Don’t forget, you can change the color and tone of your images in post-processing if necessary. Converting a photo to a brown sepia tone will give it a timeless, vintage feel.

Utilize Light & Shade

How you use light and shade in your photography can have a dramatic effect on the mood of your images. Soft light, harsh shadows, silhouettes, sun flare and contrast are some of the lighting considerations that you should think about when trying to convey a certain mood in your photos.

Using the sun to backlight your subject will create a silhouette that makes your subject appear ominous and mysterious, or even strong and powerful. Silhouettes tend to evoke strong emotions in the viewer. They become instantly drawn to the story of this mysterious subject.

Use can use bright light and a great expansive blue sky to create a happy, joyful mood in your photos. In bright daylight, watch out for the direction of the light which may cause harsh shadows on your subject.

Allowing more shadows and darker areas in your frame helps to convey a sense of mystery, and can evoke feelings of suspense, gloom or fear. Photos with lots of tonal contrast, that include very light areas and very dark areas, help to communicate a more dramatic mood.

Low contrast photos, where the tones are more similar in brightness, have a very different effect. They tend to create a more calm and serene mood.

Capture Movement

Capturing movement in a scene can do a lot to help convey a certain mood in an image. Depending on whether the movement is frozen or blurred, the mood in the image will be different.

Capturing someone in mid-jump creates a fun, joyful and exciting photo. If you shoot with a bright light source such as the setting sun, you can create stunning silhouettes of jumping or dancing subjects.

You could also have your subject throw leaves or other objects up into the air to create a fun and dynamic image.

If the moving subject is captured as a blur, this conveys a sense of speed and urgency. It makes the viewer wonder how fast the subject is moving, what they’re running from, etc. This can create feelings of tension in the image.

Capturing the motion of running water as a blur tends to create a feeling of calm and peacefulness. This works really well on waterfalls and rivers. You can capture this effect by using a slow shutter app to create a long exposure image. There are thousands of excellent photo apps on the App Store, and the things you can do with apps are absolutely incredible. With that said, the number of photo apps out there is overwhelming, and it’s really hard to know which apps are worth getting.

Consider The Surroundings

The location and surroundings in your scene can have a big impact on the mood created in your photos. They’re just as important as the main subject as they help to tell the story.

Try finding a location that has lots of character, such as a timeworn building, a decrepit interior, a stark empty room, or anything else that would help convey a story. Imagine what the outcome will be and use what you’ve learnt so far to create the mood you want.

Composition is important. You should only include the key elements that are required to convey the mood or emotion. Framing your subject with a doorway or window is a great way of putting your subject in context with their surroundings.

Including a busy background can work in certain situations, as long as it adds context to your photo and helps to tell a story. Your subject should still be clearly visible against the portrait background. Busy backgrounds tend to convey a sense of urgency, tension or confusion.

A picture that contains a lot of negative space tends to create the opposite feelings to a busy background. The empty space evokes feelings such as loneliness or peacefulness.

The distance that you place your subject from the camera also has an effect on how the viewer feels when they look at your photo. If the subject is small and far away in the frame, it tends to create a sense of isolation, loneliness and unfamiliarity.

By contrast, moving closer to the subject so that they fill the frame creates feelings of intimacy and familiarity.

Shoot From Different Angles

Shooting your subject from different angles is another technique that affects the mood and emotion in your iPhone photos.

When photographing your subject, think of the many ways that you can stand or kneel to get an interesting angle or perspective. Capturing your subject at eye level creates a more natural and familiar feel, connecting you directly with subject on an equal footing.

If you shoot from a lower angle, by kneeling or even lying down on the ground, it makes the subject appear larger than life or perhaps a bit ominous. You’re giving the subject more power than if you’d captured them at eye level.

Alternatively, if you shoot from a higher perspective by elevating the camera above your subject, you’ll make them seem smaller and more vulnerable.

Another technique you can use to create drama and excitement is to tilt your camera on an angle when you shoot. Usually we try and aim to get the horizon perfectly level in our photos, but sometimes tilting it can add a fun element to the photo, making the viewer more intrigued.


Conveying mood and emotion in your iPhone photos can take a bit of practice. There’s a lot to consider, but trying out a few of these techniques will help you to broaden and develop your photography skills.

When taking photos, try to be more aware of the elements that will evoke emotions in the viewer and help tell the story you’re trying to convey.

Consider the subject matter, location, weather, light and color in the scene. What can you do to create the mood you want? Maybe it would help to change your composition and shooting angle, or have your subject pose or move in a certain way.

Be creative and imaginative. Take lots of photos and practice changing the mood of your images in post-processing too. Your aim is to create wonderful images filled with emotion. What that emotion is will depend on the story you want to tell!

Now, as you can see from everything we’ve covered, iPhone photography looks really simple on the surface. But when you start digging deeper, it’s really not that simple.

There are so many little-known tricks and techniques you can use to improve your iPhone photos. And we could only share a handful of them in a blog post like this.

But here’s the good news: Once you really understand iPhone photography, you’ll be taking the kind of photos that nobody will even believe were shot with the iPhone!

Photography and the Feelings of Others: From Mirroring Emotions to the Theory of Mind

Photography is powerful because we can place ourselves into the perspective of those we see in an image. Whether it’s street photography, photojournalism or portraiture, we use photography to understand ourselves in relation to people around us.

Think of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, Nick Ut’s Napalm Girl or Richard Avedon’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe. These iconic images capture intent, desire, suffering, pain, ambivalence, and invoke our ability to identify with those in the frame.

Our ability to identify with and imagine someone else’s point of view is deeply ingrained into the architecture of our brain. Photography plays a unique role in triggering the network of brain regions that underlie empathy.

To understand how photographs activate the aforementioned brain network, it’s first necessary to deconstruct emotional processing into simpler components. In this article I’ll describe the brain regions that support one of the most fundamental social skills that humans have: that of imitation.

Also, in using concepts from a subfield of cognitive neuroscience called the Theory of Mind, I’ll show how humans conceptualize the minds of other people and why this is important for our ability to empathize.

Imitation is automatic and a basic requirement for developing practical social skills, like empathy. When we see the expression of other peoples faces there is an unconscious activation of the same muscles.

For example, when someone is sad and frowns you too will active frown muscles and feel similarly to the person you’re looking at, granted to a lesser extent. If you were to prevent the activation of the frown muscles then your ability to perceive sadness would diminish.

Imagine if someone were very upset with you but then you could not embody his or her feelings. Surely that relationship would be strained.

If you would like to see how well you can gauge facial emotions you can take this emotional test developed by developmental psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen (yes, he’s related to Borat).

Imitation is a result of visual information combining with muscle activation, which in turn facilitates empathy. Our capacity to imitate is thought to rely upon a specialized network of brain regions called the human mirror neuron system.

Mirror neurons were first discovered in the early 90s by Italian researchers studying the brain regions responsible for muscle activation. The hallmark trait of mirror neurons are that they become active in a person when that person is observing another person’s motor action, their intention, when viewing faces that depict emotion or when someone is included in a visual-motor task such as throwing a ball or dancing.

The human mirror neuron begins with a brain region called the superior temporal sulcus (STS), which processes body movement, where someone’s attention is directed toward, and emotion. This data rich visual information is transmitted from the STS to the posterior parietal cortex (PPC), which is where mirror neurons are first activated.

The PPC functions to coordinate motor plans (muscle movements for a specific goal) and identifies where other objects are in relation to one’s own body. The STS-PPC connection is thought to support our ability to imitate the movements of those we watch.

The combined visual-motor information from the PPC is then transmitted to the frontal cortex and some of this information is sent to the language-processing region called Broca’s area.

With a simple photograph our brain will unconsciously processes biological motion, attend to where emotions are being directed, activate muscles of those we are observing, and transmits this information to language processing centers where we can consciously express our own emotional reaction.

Theory of Mind

Imitation is a basic social skill that often occurs unconsciously. However, as we age we become much more aware of someone’s emotions not by direct observation by rather by judging their intent. Intent requires us to place ourselves into someone else’s perspective and to hold the belief that other people have minds that are distinct from our own.

The Theory of Mind is a subfield of cognitive neuroscience that studies how humans understand the mental states of other people. The general idea is that the mind is something we cannot see and thus we must believe that it exists in theory, hence the name Theory of Mind. Because mental states are not observable, much of what we know about human behavior is through observing someone’s intent.

It’s quite the step in cognition to go from imitation to understanding someone’s intention. Indeed, understanding the mental state of others is a developmental milestone and it does not happen until about the age of four. The “false-belief test” is one way by which children are determined to have a developed a theory of mind.

In the false-belief test a child is shown a video where a puppet (we’ll call him Riku) leaves a cookie on a table and when Riku leaves the scene another puppet walks in (we’ll call her Akiko). Without Riku noticing, Akiko picks up the cookie and moves it into a cookie jar and then leaves the scene. Riku will re-enter the room but before he does the observing child is asked where Riku will think the cookie is.

Children younger than four will often state that Riku will think the cookie is in the cabinet. Children younger than four are often unable to identify the point of view of another person and do not understand that people have a mind that differs from theirs.

Only recently have neuroscientist been able to identify a brain region that is specific to inferring the mental states of others and this region is called the temporal parietal junction or TPJ. The TPJ is necessary to infer someone else’s beliefs.

Additionally, the TPJ processes the motivation behind someone’s actions, it’s crucial in evaluating another person’s moral judgments, and evidence suggests that the TPJ is a brain structure that is uniquely human. Because other animals don’t seem to have an analogous structure to the TPJ, it is likely that the human brain further evolved to develop a theory of mind, which in has allowed us to deeply examine the beliefs, emotions, and desires of others.

Embodying the Photo

The human mirror neuron system and the brain networks of the Theory of Mind are only some of the brain regions involved in emotional processing. We have evolved to feel the emotions of other people and vision can clearly drive much of our emotional response.

We see someone’s facial expression, imitate his or her emotion, and empathize. We understand intent, which influences how we judge someone’s emotional state, goals and desires. What better way to collectively engage in empathy than to share the images we take?

Photography is important because it can influence our capacity to empathize, it effects our motivation to help others, and help us connect with people through imitation. Seeing children with polio, viewing racial discrimination, watching the total destruction of New Orleans undoubtedly appeal to our emotions and our yearning to help those in need.

The very survival of our species has and still relies on understanding how other feel, attending to the needs of those around us, and working with one another to construct a better society.

Photography is more important than ever because we need visual imagery that reflects our connectedness, especially in a world that can be as inhumane as ours.