Tong Ming is a photographer who enjoys shooting people as his subject. Read this article to learn what it takes to set the mood and capture emotions with the trusty Canon EOS 6D Mark II.

It’s said that an image speaks a thousand words. This is especially true when the shot captures all the emotions. The more emotional the shot is, the greater the connection we feel to it. From happiness to anger and fear, I’ll attempt to share some key tips to picture moods and emotions in a photograph, right from the pre-planning stage to composing your shot and building a rapport with the model you’re shooting.

Know your location

It’s never nice to turn up to a shoot only to find out that your location is closed for a private event. As idiot proof as it sounds, check the weather forecast beforehand if it’s an outdoor shoot and the booking details if it’s at a place that is open for the public to freely use. The weather definitely plays a part in bringing out emotions of your model. On days where gloom paints the skies, I tend to direct the model to project a more moody shot. Naturally, the weather plays a part in moods.


Canon EOS 6D Mark II | EF50mm f/1.8 STM| f/1.8 | ISO 1600 | 1/80 sec

Always have a theme

Have an idea, mood or theme in mind that you will be going for, it will make things much easier for you and your model to work towards. Sometimes, before the shoot, we would decide and pick a theme or mood that we would follow. During the shoots, I’ll then use lesser verbal instructions and allow the model a bit more freedom to emote.


Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM | f/4.0 | ISO 640 | 1/80 sec

Play Up with Lights

Light play is one of my favourite ways of creating new and eye-catching photos. If a majority of the photos are bright, it will definitely have the tendency to project a happy, light and free feel.  If you are going for a dark, isolated and broody shot, people would tend to feel more down about the person’s emotion.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM | f/4.0 | ISO 640 | 1/80 sec

Save Room for Candid Shots

Something I like to do to conclude my photoshoots is to ask the model to think of something funny to catch them off guard. At that moment, a natural smile beams across.

Canon EOS 6D Mark IV | EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM | f/4.0 | ISO 640 | 1/80 sec

For more of Tong Ming’s work, check out his photos here.