40 Captivating Photos That Depict Human Emotion


Though we differ in the way we look and things we believe in, there’s something we all share: emotion. Human emotion is innate in all of us; it’s something we’re born with and something we die with. Happiness, sadness, love, hatred, worries, and indifference – these are things that constantly occur in our daily lives.

Today we share with you 40 powerful depictions of the human emotion. In these photos you’ll see celebrations, sadness in defeat, raw anger, and everything else in between that makes us what we are… human.

Captivating Photos that Depict Human Emotion


Laugh Air plane.2


Laugh with Red Hood.4


Paulina screen shot.

Michelle Black6


Loise Lane8

White dove9

Antonio Gabriele6410

dreams...of dreams...of dreams...11

Painting in shadows12

Painting in shadows - favorite game.13



Salomé G.4016

Don't Fence Me In17

Brett Walker18

Man with Smerk.19

Eric Lafforgue605620

Chimbu Dead Man.21

Sandra Torralba22

Wrong Makeup.23

Nirrimi Joy24

Freckles like stars.25

kelly c5826

tommy & jackson.27

Brett Walker28

Old Guy.29

P.S. Zollo6230

Bud in September.31

Martin Gommel32


Ricardo Liberato34

I'm Feeling Angry Today35

Jelena Balic36




Salomé G.4016

No title.41


feel free and cry.43


Consider me dead.45

Dar’ya Sipyeykina46

Warm Memories. . .47

Leroy Skalstad5448

Young Homeless Couple.49


Tears and doubts.51


I Can't Shake You.53

Leroy Skalstad5448


Eric Lafforgue605620

Sudanese face.57

kelly c5826


Eric Lafforgue605620

Tired dancer.61

P.S. Zollo6230

Jane Among The Ruins.63

Antonio Gabriele6410

light breaks where no sun shines.65

Piers Nye66







CrY and SmiLE.73



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  1. 1 http://lluvia.deviantart.com/
  2. 2 http://lluvia.deviantart.com/art/Laugh-42555319
  3. 3 http://cassetteject.deviantart.com/
  4. 4 http://cassetteject.deviantart.com/art/Laugh-66816171
  5. 5 http://peempek.deviantart.com/
  6. 6 http://www.flickr.com/people/ursylla/
  7. 7 http://www.flickr.com/photos/ursylla/808092229/
  8. 8 http://www.flickr.com/photos/malish/
  9. 9 http://www.flickr.com/photos/malish/235216474/in/pool-bestofhumanemotion
  10. 10 http://www.flickr.com/people/aboutdesouffle/
  11. 11 http://www.flickr.com/photos/aboutdesouffle/405727863/
  12. 12 http://vladimirborowicz.deviantart.com/
  13. 13 http://vladimirborowicz.deviantart.com/art/My-favourite-game-53361696
  14. 14 http://ssuunnddeeww.deviantart.com/
  15. 15 http://ssuunnddeeww.deviantart.com/art/8past8-55437635
  16. 16 http://www.flickr.com/people/vorfas/
  17. 17 http://www.flickr.com/photos/vorfas/390765299/
  18. 18 http://www.flickr.com/people/brettwalker/
  19. 19 http://www.flickr.com/photos/brettwalker/163692401/
  20. 20 http://www.flickr.com/people/mytripsmypics/
  21. 21 http://www.flickr.com/photos/mytripsmypics/1558866868/
  22. 22 http://www.flickr.com/people/sandratorralba/
  23. 23 http://www.flickr.com/photos/sandratorralba/1451819805/
  24. 24 http://pretty-as-a-picture.deviantart.com/
  25. 25 http://pretty-as-a-picture.deviantart.com/art/freckles-like-stars-89379060
  26. 26 http://www.flickr.com/people/kelco/
  27. 27 http://www.flickr.com/photos/kelco/1961763491/
  28. 28 http://www.flickr.com/people/brettwalker/
  29. 29 http://www.flickr.com/photos/brettwalker/228541054/
  30. 30 http://www.flickr.com/people/zollo/
  31. 31 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zollo/1438614834/
  32. 32 http://kwerfeldein.deviantart.com/
  33. 33 http://kwerfeldein.deviantart.com/art/Anger-102986132
  34. 34 http://www.flickr.com/people/liberato/
  35. 35 http://www.flickr.com/photos/liberato/2915235479/
  36. 36 http://esens.deviantart.com/
  37. 37 http://esens.deviantart.com/art/Scream-60887321
  38. 38 http://calvinhollywood.deviantart.com/
  39. 39 http://calvinhollywood.deviantart.com/art/THE-SCREAM-50424023
  40. 40 http://www.flickr.com/people/vorfas/
  41. 41 http://calvinhollywood.deviantart.com/art/THE-SCREAM-50424023
  42. 42 http://chillersbike.deviantart.com/
  43. 43 http://chillersbike.deviantart.com/art/feel-free-and-cry-90813937
  44. 44 http://redfraction.deviantart.com/
  45. 45 http://redfraction.deviantart.com/art/Consider-me-dead-73265320
  46. 46 http://www.flickr.com/people/chant3/
  47. 47 http://www.flickr.com/photos/chant3/3224706144/
  48. 48 http://www.flickr.com/people/wd9hot/
  49. 49 http://www.flickr.com/photos/wd9hot/475295701/
  50. 50 http://www.flickr.com/people/all_the_names_are_already_taken_pfff/
  51. 51 http://www.flickr.com/photos/all_the_names_are_already_taken_pfff/135624379/
  52. 52 http://www.flickr.com/people/nicktoday/
  53. 53 http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicktoday/2831259995/
  54. 54 http://www.flickr.com/people/wd9hot/
  55. 55 http://www.flickr.com/photos/wd9hot/2528736855/
  56. 56 http://www.flickr.com/people/mytripsmypics/
  57. 57 http://www.flickr.com/photos/mytripsmypics/1014810155/
  58. 58 http://www.flickr.com/people/kelco/
  59. 59 http://www.flickr.com/photos/kelco/2152042633/
  60. 60 http://www.flickr.com/people/mytripsmypics/
  61. 61 http://www.flickr.com/photos/mytripsmypics/207877955/
  62. 62 http://www.flickr.com/people/zollo/
  63. 63 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zollo/1347765836/
  64. 64 http://www.flickr.com/people/aboutdesouffle/
  65. 65 http://www.flickr.com/photos/aboutdesouffle/222039056/in/pool-bestofhumanemotion
  66. 66 http://www.flickr.com/people/21204781@N07/
  67. 67 http://www.flickr.com/photos/21204781@N07/2501994750/
  68. 68 http://godinc.deviantart.com/
  69. 69 http://godinc.deviantart.com/art/cry-110306779
  70. 70 http://oksanax.deviantart.com/
  71. 71 http://oksanax.deviantart.com/art/Cry-46431774
  72. 72 http://taykut.deviantart.com/
  73. 73 http://taykut.deviantart.com/art/CrY-and-SmiLE-69267681
  74. 74 http://fatigued.deviantart.com/
  75. 75 http://fatigued.deviantart.com/art/cry-92182490
  76. 76 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/01/18/the-beauty-of-urban-decay/
  77. 77 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/02/01/35-examples-of-beautiful-city-photography/
  78. 78 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/03/01/showcase-of-beautiful-shadow-photography/

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Jacob Gube is the Founder and Chief Editor of Six Revisions, a web publication for web developers and designers, and the Deputy Editor of Design Instruct, a web magazine for designers and digital artists. He has over seven years of experience as professional web developer and web designer and has written a book on JavaScript.

  1. 1

    Cool pictures, but honestly a little too artsy. I’d rather see some simple, raw, unpolished pictures of emotion. I think that would get the point across better.

  2. 2

    Great idea for a post but I also agree with John. Simple, real, honest pictures of human emotion mean more to me.

    To the haters of SM, chill out or make your own blog that does a better job. The photogaphy and typography posts are not inherently “useless” just because they didn’t give you free icons or baby you through ajax…

  3. 3

    Matt Litherland

    April 14, 2009 3:21 am

    Ooo Comment N0.1!

    some really nice photos here! Keep up the good work!

  4. 4

    I don’t know how you do it. resource after resource – just awesome. Thanks guys!

  5. 5

    I don’t know how you guys do it. Resource after awesome resource. Thanks guys!

  6. 6


  7. 7

    GIRUGAMESH is my favourite. :3

  8. 8

    A.B.C. Photography

    April 14, 2009 4:22 am

    I can add one more :-)

  9. 9

    Maximum pics in dis category are mindblowing.. bt sm are not that good

  10. 10

    awesome!… amazing collection…

  11. 11

    Brett Walker and Catherine are fav’d here. Actually interesting to see such an article because the expression of human emotion on work seen today can be of high value.

  12. 12

    I agree with most of the other comments made, the photos aren’t really breathtaking. The just good photos, i don’t see true emotion i can see some make a face that looks angry or sad but i don’t feel that. The images are a let down after reading the title.

  13. 13

    Great images.

  14. 14

    Great collection

  15. 15

    I agree with John. A lot of these are quite the opposite of the point of the piece, and don’t show ANY emotion. Antonio Gabriele’s image is almost comedic in its clumsy use of composition, and shows a lack of emotion from both the subject and the artist that is quite extraordinary.

  16. 16


    April 14, 2009 5:12 am

    Great photos

  17. 17

    Lucky 11 Studios

    April 14, 2009 5:47 am

    Decent. But honestly, there are some really cheesy shots in this list. Like CHEESE-wait for it- EEEEYYYYY.

    But overall, you guys do some great work.

  18. 18

    отличная подборка!

  19. 19

    I just couldn’t help myself from saying “WOW”. Photographers are true innovators!

  20. 20

    Vast majority of these photos are amazing. I don’t know a great deal about photography but I paused to look a few of these photos for quite a while. Thanks

  21. 21

    To be honest – it’s just a collection of images! The standard of Smashing! articles is really dropping!

  22. 22

    A good collection on the whole,..but aren’t some professional model jobs ? It’s unprepared
    raw images that would expose the real human in us.

  23. 23

    I also agree with John. Many of these images don’t ring true.

  24. 24

    really nice view to say emotions

  25. 25

    bah, smashing mag creeping ever further downhill.

    This used to be a web design blog, not a glorified flickr group.

    1/10, these wouldn’t help a bit with any of my current or previous web projects.

  26. 26

    Great collection.

  27. 27
  28. 28

    What’s the point ? Yes, photo is cool, but if I want such a collection, I went on Flickr. Please, stop those useless listings and keep on less but better articles like recent ones. You’re so accurate on subjects that really relate to web design.

  29. 29

    This site is not all about web design dude, photography is a great skill and a huge part of any kind of design, im sure you hate Typography too? Maybe “they are so accurate” because thats ALL you know about.

    Keep it up smashing

  30. 30

    I like this kind of articles. I really don’t know about thos who complain, but watching some pretty images before working really gives some inspiration. As my Art teacher said, “you always need to see pretty stuff. Always”. Perhaps you only want to watch web designs because that’s more easy to get “inspired” by them? Look inspiration everywhere, people.

    BTW, the “old people” photos are my favourite. All of them. There is something about their eyes, like they know every secret of the world. They probably do.

  31. 31

    utterly beautiful….I want to buy prints!!!

  32. 32


  33. 33

    Seems black and white is a tool of choice. As in the past with non digital manipulated photography.

  34. 34
  35. 35

    Boring. Since when has this become a photography site?? At least relate it web design some how.

  36. 36

    Some of these were really great and some really did not belong in the list at all as their quality in contrast to the others just did not compare. Overall I have to say though these were mind blowing and some of them are very much so photo journalistic quality!!! ~ Jordan Dossett.

  37. 37

    I was captivated by the photo of the grandfather or father holding his son; they have the same expression and look alike, it brought me into their world.

    I take shots of nature, but I would like to graduate to humans soon

    keep up the good work!

  38. 38


    April 14, 2009 3:09 pm

    Nice images! Posts like this make me want to get out my camera and play around with it a bit.

    I don’t know about everyone else, but I got the impression that Smashing Magazine is a DESIGN site, not strictly devoted to the web. Therefore, photography inspiration has its place here just as much as a showcase of websites. Not to mention photography can be a large part of web design. Where do you think all those stock images you use came from?

  39. 39

    I again agree with the sentiments of John, however for all those whining that they thought this was a web design blog and who seem to be offended that this article has been added, why click on the link to this page???

    Its like saying oh look Football is on Channel 3 I think I’ll turn over and watch it although I have no interest in it and them complain how I didn’t enjoy it….get a life.

  40. 40

    Caroline Schnapp

    April 14, 2009 3:40 pm

    Dave (post 36), eat my pussy.

    Many of the pictures are ‘pretty’, but I’ve not seen many that convey real emotion, however subtle, except the one used in the teaser (Catherine), the ones by Eric Lafforgue… and some toward the end, but then these ‘tearful’ ones felt exploitative and just didn’t touch me.

  41. 41

    here is the right link to the “angry stanic” portrait :

    Angry Satanic by Salomé G..

    Great collection though :-)

  42. 42

    some pictures are really good. Nice colection :)

  43. 43

    Anish Bhattarai

    April 14, 2009 5:55 pm

    Nice collection

  44. 44

    Dave (post 36) and Caroline (post 42).
    Get a room

  45. 45

    Nice collection

  46. 46

    LMFAO @ John (post 45). You damn well beat me to it haha.

    If people have a problem with the photography posts… what the hell is wrong with skipping them. Read your damn web design articles and continue to remain ignorant. I for one will take full advantage of whatever articles Smashing has to offer me.

  47. 47


  48. 48

    catherine photo is very touchy !!
    CEO Eatables.in
    Hyd INDIA

  49. 49

    Fantastic collection. My favorite from here is gun ( No.8 )… I always hope to see some pictures of Réka Valkai in such collenctions/troundups like her http://justelse.deviantart.com/art/The-Story-93167159 … I just love that photo. I only can hope that more and more people will stumble upon her work.

  50. 50

    absolutelyy beautiful..the pics are so captivating n realistic..emotions r soo real..thnks for sharing..!

  51. 51

    Good Collection..

  52. 52

    emotive, beautiful, classic… luv it !

  53. 53

    I also agree with John. Most of them seem fake.
    Jelena Balic’s and Calvin’s photos don’t express anything for me. (and many more)
    Well only one thing…. fake.
    I’m really disappointed with most of your image collections.
    Just try to explain why a photo is great and see the response from us, to start a debate and at the end you’ll see why this collection sucks.

  54. 54

    Very cool Post, Awesome Emotions and expressions. Really lovely ! :)
    I mostly loved Paulina, Painting in shadows,Catherine and r. Really good ones. :)

  55. 55

    splendid, absolutely splendid…

  56. 56

    Robert ( InToGraphics @ the forum )

    April 15, 2009 1:01 am

    When I bumped into the http://www.jeremycowart.com/ website somewhere in 2004, I was convinced I had found the best photographer in the world. In a way, he still is to me, because I still pass by a couple of times a week.

    But the net proved me wrong. Articles likes this remind me that that there is so much other (yet to be discovered by me) talent out there.

    Thanks for this.

  57. 57

    Very very very NICE!!!

  58. 58


  59. 60

    underwhelming mostly… more posts like the amazing brochures and leaflets, less of the lazy crossposts from flickr.

  60. 61

    Cristhian Bedon

    April 15, 2009 4:12 am

    Photography at its best.

  61. 62

    You can draw on inspiration from anywhere so the relevance of this post is still there.

    A couple of photos had lovely contrasts in color that I will be experimenting with on websites so I got something from it ;-)

  62. 63

    hmm very realistic photos. Caterine is very beautiful photo. Thanks for all photos

  63. 64

    Rajehs Kumar Chekuri

    April 15, 2009 4:36 am

    nice pics…….
    nice blog……..

  64. 65

    Great selection of photos, quality photography is something often overlooked for websites, take time over composition, lighting, contrast etc. I agree some wouldn’t look out of place on a stock photo site.

    I really like the colours in Catherine’s image, though smoking on a train line is just asking for trouble

  65. 66

    eh very nice indeed.

  66. 67

    Nice collection of images! Thank you for stepping out of the one-dimensional mindset of web design and bringing inspiration from other areas of design. Keep up the good work!

  67. 68

    Most of these have nothing to do with emotion … they’re just pictures of people … some of them average at best.

    Try harder please :)

  68. 69

    Wayfaring Wanderer

    April 15, 2009 5:23 am

    This makes me want to take portraits as I hardly ever do.

  69. 70

    @Cristhian Bedon (April 15th, 2009, 4:12 am)

    I’m afraid you couldn’t be more wrong. This is average flikr material, not photography at its best, by any standard. Its a quick easy post; and although as a web designer I do find any artistic material of use; this isn’t a great collection, and if on any other site would be ignored completely.

    Personally I find the coding articles of less use, as I’m a web designer, not a web developer. Inspirational articles are great, but this is not inspirational I’m afraid; perhaps for a teenage ameteur who followed a digg link, but not to professional designer.

  70. 71


    Web design is far from one-dimensional … clearly you know nothing of the subject. Also, while I’m here, photography is not a form of design … its an art; semantics I know … but worth pointing out.

  71. 72

    Some photos here are decent, but many are quite the opposite of this post’s topic. Antonio Gabriele’s “photo” looks like a botched collage created in MS Paint. Yuck.

  72. 73

    Just to follow up on those that say some of pics show no emotion… technically “indifferent” is an emotion… “ennui” as well :)

    (but yeah some of these are nice photos, but I dont really think “emotions” when viewing them)

    ((and this opinion is from a photographer with his own photography company, degrees in photography and art history, and has worked in photography museums and galleries. But again… this is my opinion on the photos, ))

  73. 74

    Most of these look really posed – not about showing true emotion at all.

    I’d love to see a post that shows how photographic content – particularly emotions – contribute to an overall design.

  74. 75

    These are fantastic!

  75. 76

    I want to start my photography after watching this gallery, its just excellent !!

  76. 77

    That’s awesome, great photos…

  77. 78

    This is awesome !! great pics !!!
    I’m actually inspired to do some photography !!!!
    Smashing it again !

  78. 79

    Stunning pictures!
    Keep sharing with us.Thank you.

  79. 80

    Awesome collection…
    I am just out of my words….

    Keep the good work going and capturing people’s emotions

  80. 81

    Sivaprasath Selvaraj

    April 16, 2009 9:52 pm

    This is awesome. great pics.
    I’m actually inspired to do some photography.
    Keep sharing with us.Thank you.

  81. 82

    this is empty.

  82. 83


  83. 84

    very cute and nice capture that should’nt be missed in this post


  84. 85

    amazing shots…truly inspiring..thanks for sharing!

  85. 86

    Your best photo collection ever. Thank you very much for this emotional post

  86. 87

    These are very fantastic!

  87. 88

    Barbara Nicholls

    April 20, 2009 10:49 am

    Wow, these are truly amazing.

  88. 89

    Wow! Definitely bookmarking this page!
    These portraits are so genuine and strong. Love the variety. Way to capture the vastness of emotion!

  89. 90

    Siouxie Boshoff

    April 21, 2009 9:06 am

    Wow. Breathtaking. I could feel the emotion in some f them. Thank you for sharing these!

  90. 91

    To LIFE!

  91. 92

    Most of these seemed like they were trying way too hard. “Models Attempting to Look Deep” would have been a more apt title.

  92. 93
  93. 94

    Ignatz Horowitz

    April 22, 2009 5:41 am

    Some were good, some shouldn’t have been posted…but at least there were no god-awful cartoonish “HDR” wannabes. This site could do better if more effort was put into it.

  94. 95

    Photograps are good. But lacks expression. There is a bit of conciousness amongst all the characters shown here. Don’t make them concious when u click the button.

  95. 96

    To me it’s just a collection of images. Generic ‘human emotions’ have the inverse (desired) effect of making me feel emotionally bland/ placid. Makes some people happy tho

  96. 97

    40 Captivating Photos?? There are only 38…. where are the other 2 ?

  97. 98


  98. 99

    nice clicks dude!

  99. 100

    If the human emotion is generic amateur model poses, then I suppose they are.

  100. 101

    these are some legit photos yo…i really dig the homeboi


  101. 102

    images to be produced further in depth of and in artistic way …… but it is cool………………………….

  102. 103

    i’m doing a project that requires some images. i’m interested in using the one titled ‘martin gommel’ but i do need your permission. it would be greatly appreciated.


  103. 104

    oh, you can e-mail me back at the given e-mail. thanks!

  104. 105

    this is wonderful

  105. 106

    There’s something about the second to last photo that’s just heartbreakingly beautiful. All of them are wonderful.

  106. 107

    Sorry, most of these images look like pro advertising shots.

    They’re all missing the real definition of emotion. – I dialed up Google hunting this subject and this was the first link …hmmm

  107. 108

    Wow! Very beautiful photos. Congratulation to all.

  108. 109

    Its nice but be more real

  109. 110

    i believe these pics were a bunch of blobs………

  110. 111

    some are good but some are not emotional instead they are scary

  111. 113

    An amazing capture, Moreover a nice preparationzzzzzzzzzz…..

  112. 114

    no words….just amazing..!!!

  113. 115

    Deep insight ! Great sharing !

  114. 116

    Great Photos expressing emotions human clearly and attractively.

  115. 117

    I just nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Awards .
    Good Luck and congratulation.
    Best Regards
    Hari Chana
    ps check the rule on my site.

  116. 118

    Great collection.

  117. 119

    Very nice. I like your pics . These are really captivating. U must add pictures of happy faces as well. U can send them to me at my given e mail address. Thanks.


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