Let the eyes tell the story

When to capture portraits with eyes to camera can be a tricky decision. Especially when time is not on your side, you are under pressure with no idea how long you have to capture the moment.

This image of a Moroccan street trader was taken in a busy market in the Atlas mountains. The first thing that caught my eye was the colour of his headscarf. However as soon as he turned to me directly I realised that it was his eyes that were going to tell the most powerful story. His stare seemed to captured both his pride and struggle and made the other shot options feel inconsequential.

When taking street portraits you have a choice. Capture the eyes or find or find a powerful ambient shot which sets up the portrait composition strongly into the context of their environment. You don’t always have a choice, and sometimes straight to camera can detract from the power of the shot by appearing contrived. However just occasionally you can capture their look transforming the shot into a powerful narrative.