Silverstrand Photography Blog

Local photography company in Saratoga Springs, UT. Families, corporate, sports.

Tuesday’s Tips and Tricks | Posing and Camera Angles

Wow, it’s been awhile since I posted the last Tuesday’s Tips and Tricks.  Sorry about that.  I know today is Monday… but I’m just excited to post this! haha  🙂

Today, let’s learn a little about posing and camera angles.  The following information is from a book titled: K-I-S-S Guide to Photography.

Tip: for a portrait sitter… have them lean toward the camera.

Don’t just let portraits happen, control them.  Be in charge and tell the sitter how you want them to pose.  They will be grateful because they probably don’t know what to do themselves.

  • If a man is going bald, shoot from below the chin line and use side lighting (never top or front lighting)
  • If your subject has a double chin, shoot from slightly above head height and have them stretch forward and look up at the camera

In a post by mcpactions, they state:

When photographing women of almost any age, we want them to look their best and feel better about themselves when they leave the shoot than before they came.

There are a number of lighting tricks and posing styles we can use to help make our subjects feel and look their best.

For today’s post I will be discussing chins.  Nobody wants a double chin, at least nobody I know of.  And if they have one, they likely do not want it obvious in photos.  If posed incorrectly of from an unflattering position, a photographer can actually give the appearance of a double chin on someone who does not have one.

To minimize excess chins or to make sure we do not stick one on someone there are 2 helpful tips.

  1. Chin Down – when shooting, constantly tell your subject to tilt their chin down a bit. They will not know why you are saying this, nor do you need to tell them. Just say it as naturally as you would asking them to look or tilt to the right or left.  An inch makes a HUGE difference.
  2. Get above your subject and shoot slightly down on them.  This helps give an overall slimming effect too.  So if you are blessed with height, this may happen naturally for you.  I am 5’2” so for me to get height, you will see me on step stools, steps, or even climbing up on chairs.  Anything to get about a foot higher than the subject.  This is not always possible though.  And in those cases I rely on #1.

In the 1st photo, the photographer was lower than the model and chin not down.  In the second photo you can see she was tilting her head back (artsy but not so flattering).  And then the 3rd photo – perfect facial shape and defined chin.  As you can see my model was not heavy at all, but she did have a round shaped face.  Trust me, she will want number 3 for her friends to see on Facebook, not 1 or 2.

There are times were you can break both these rules.  If for example your subject is super slim, you may do the reverse.  Also when trying to get an artistic style – you may actually shoot from way low instead. You can get away with this more on wide angle shots.  So rules can be broken…

  • Many people display their nervousness by tensing their mouth.  Ask them to fill their cheeks with air and blow it out – hard.  This relaxes their mouth and makes them feel so silly they almost always laugh.  There’s your great happy portrait.
  • If the subject has a long nose, have them look straight at the camera with their head strait, and use as long a focal length as possible.  The long lens (telephoto mode on a compact camera) will compress the perspective, making the nose look shorter.
  • Some people stare when they are nervous.  Just quietly ask them to close their eyes and lower their chin to their chest.  After a few seconds get them to slowly lift the head and open their eyes as they do.  Stare gone. – magic!
  • To produce a dynamic, “I’m-in-charge” portrait, shoot from about the chest height looking up at your sitter.  The sitter should keep his head still and simply look down at the camera with his or her eyes.  A lot of corporate portraits are shot like this.

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The great portraitist Yousuf Karsh was making a portrait of the larger-than-life British prime minister Winston Churchill, who, as usual, was smoking a cigar.  However, Karsh was having problems getting Churchill’s trademark “British Bulldog” expression.

Legend has it that the photographer jumped out from behind his camera, snatched the cigar from Churchill’s mouth, and stuck it between his fingers.  Churchill was furious and glared at the camera, creating a very famous portrait.

Right after he captured the above picture, he got this:

It’s amazing how fast expressions change.  Have your camera ready!

Come back for more Tuesday’s Tips and Tricks!


2 responses to “Tuesday’s Tips and Tricks | Posing and Camera Angles

  1. Simba Falby July 28, 2010 at 2:57 am

    Great tips. I’m trying to get into photography myself and I really thought “chin up” would get the desired effect but as I can see in the illustration that is not the case.

    Very interesting.

  2. Randy November 9, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    I’ve definitely noticed this in photos I’ve taken of my wife. She’s not heavy at all but does have kind of a softer jaw line which can look like a double chin. She’s very pretty and in most photos I’ve taken of her she looks fantastic but in others I manage to make her look heavy. After reading your article I looked back through photos I’ve taken of her and without exception she’s looking up or I’m lower down on all of the ones that don’t look good. This helps a lot. Thanks!

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