I first noticed this whenever I talk to someone who is taller than me or is physically standing or sitting in a position where they have to look downwards towards me. Their peripheral vision lies above my head, so they cannot really dart left and right with their eyes in distraction because it is a lot more obvious that they’re not paying full attention to me. So they give you their undivided attention, fully focusing downwards. There is something intimate and familiar about a downward glance. It’s a warmer, more inviting look that communicates acknowledgement and attention.
When I take portraits of people, I always try to shoot at eye-level or from an inch or two below them so they’re looking downwards towards the camera. This not only subconsciously puts them in an elevated position of power, it also lets the viewers see and connect to them as a person first. In this series of photos I have photographed people from above and below eye level to show the difference between how people can be perceived simply by changing this angle of view.
Often, as travel photographers moving through a region, we have a few minutes, seconds even, to try to connect with strangers. We have moments to create a portrait of them that tries to capture their spirit as best as we can and simple thoughts such as this help us make more intimate work that is more representative and kinder to the people these images portray.