aside from the sharpness in the eyes. i think what made them pop are the catchlights.
for me sometimes even if the eyes are not as sharp so long as there's catchlights? it works.
Thanks. Teary eyes certainly make for having great catchlights. I thought his eyes were extremely sharp right out of the camera even when veiwed full size so I did no sharpening.
Somewhere buried in a closet is a series of me when I was about his age (about 68 years ago) that looked a lot like this series.