Teresa Pilcher Photography

Our Emotional Filter

“We are not moved by reasons, but by emotions.” ― Bangambiki Habyarimana
Why do we have an emotional filter and what purpose does it serve?… In an uncertain world, those who survived always had their emotional radar turned on.. call it instinct, if you will. Our ancient ancestors were at the mercy of wild predators, other humans or impending natural disasters, and they came to trust their instincts above all else. That reliance on instinct undoubtedly saved human lives, allowing those who possessed keen instincts to reproduce. These adaptive traits were then passed on to us, through this natural selection. So for human beings, no less than for any other animal, emotions are the first screen to all information received.

“Instinct is a marvelous thing. It can neither be explained nor ignored.” ― Agatha Christie  Because we are hard-wired to pay attention to other people, we can use this knowledge in our creative process to capture and hold the viewer’s attention.

This image was taken in the Jewish Quarter in Paris, we can only really see two faces but from their gestures it appears they are in the midst of friendly banter. This image conveys emotion for me and I am engaged with these people, their clothes suggest their tradition and history. I particularly like the emphasis on the main subject and on his face which is contrasted against the door in the background. It also captures a timeless quality, this photograph could have been  taken 1yr or 100 yrs ago.

This image was a street portrait of a young woman, I liked her style. This is the second frame shot, initially she looked directly at me capturing my reflection, not exactly what I was after, so I asked her to look at her friends. In her glasses we can see the people and the street reflected. So the reflection gives us more information about her environment and we catch a glimpse of the world through her eyes.

This final image conveys a deep emotion of a man in prayer, there is a candle and a single flower which both convey a story.  With respect for my subjects anonymity, I have processed this image to be more of a suggestion of the man, eliminating details and using highlights to allow him to appear from the dark backdrop. As long as it is done with respect, then I believe it is ok to share this moment.

Emotions within the subjects can be harnessed to set up an emotional response in our viewer, to tap into our empathy. An image can make us smile when humour is used, it can make us feel sad or uncomfortable or it can even allow us to connect spiritually and transcend our everyday existence. Next time you look at an image, ask yourself what does the image makes you feel, and how does this impact on your thought process or reason. The emotional response allows for connection, so the viewer is now actively involved with your image.


How do you feel about capturing private moments of strangers in their everyday lives?

Teresa Pilcher

Teresa Pilcher Photography A Blog on Street Photography

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