In most portraits, the focus of the subject is on her face – the eyes in particular. Studies have shown that, even as infants, we prefer looking at faces. Babies’ interest, measured in length of time they will look before turning away, is exponentially greater for faces than for non-face images.
But there are ways you can pose and position your subject’s face in a way that flatters your subject. And some universal rules to follow.
1. Never shoot up your subject’s nose. Aim to make the nostrils look like lines instead of circles. With older children and grown ups, simply remind them to bring their chin down. For babies, you’ll need to gently position the heads down yourself or reposition your camera angle.
Compare the follow images:
The first one I would never show the client. It’s from the chopping block. Baby wiggled and pulled her head back. You can see up her nose and into her mouth. This isn’t a flattering angle. In the second image, both babies are facing the camera, heads angles down so we can focus on their faces instead of seeing up their noses. The second image is in the clients’ final gallery. We can focus on how beautiful the twins are!
2. Chin out and down! When getting their picture taken, people have a tendency to lift their chins and tilt their heads back, thinking it will remove their double chins or make them look leaner. The opposite is true. Instead, tell your subjects (and try this yourself in the mirror!) – lean your chin out, then down. This will create a long, lean neck, and position the face over the chin. Your subject will look thinner.
3. Women turn heads toward the higher shoulder. Men toward the lower. The female body form looks more feminine when she leans over the shrugged shoulder or the shoulder nearer the lens. So does the male. So when posing men, if not straight up, have them turn away from the higher shoulder, or tilt away from camera to look masculine.
She looks very feminine and he looks very masculine.
Easy enough, right?