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3 Tips for Shooting Subjects’ Faces | 31 Days of Photo Tips, Day 17

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:
don't shoot up your subject's nostrils

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.

des moines iowa photographer his & hers photography

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?


  1. Great points! It just occurred to me that I should create a workbook of your ’31 Days of Photo Tips.’ I’ll never be able to remember all this good stuff. ;o)

  2. OK, so not only did this help me when taking pictures of other people, it helped me feel more comfortable having my own picture taken. I have always hated pictures of myself. Your “chin out & down” tip makes the panic subside at the thought of having my picture taken. Thanks for the double whammy!

  3. Great post. Thanks for the tips. Love the ‘Don’t crop at the joints’ post too!

  4. I am loving your tips through this series – thank you for having some (like this one, and don’t crop at the joints) that are ones I can immediately understand and put into practice. I am such a beginner that some of your other tips are still beyond me but I’m working on it!

  5. oh.my.goodness – that red headed lady is GORGEOUS!! I love her hair, dress and the colored trees in the background – beautiful picture!!

  6. yes, simple enough and perfect! great tips – of course

  7. Great everyday tips – thank you! XOL

  8. great tips! i tell my friends the “chin out and down” one for their drivers licenses. 😛

  9. I will try to remember these tips. Especially the chin one, for myself! I do agree about the nostril thing but that first shot is still adorable. 🙂

  10. simple subtle tips that make a big difference. Thanks DarcY!

  11. gah! I just delivered a baby shoot to a parent with the baby’s chin stuck out – I thought it was the cutest little dimply shot, but I realize her little nostrils are circles not lines. oye

  12. Brenda Hall says:

    Thanks for you tips. I find them extremely helpful

  13. Thank you for sharing these awesome tips, I learned quite a bit from this post and this will reflect in my new shoots.