Portraiture is a tricky business. With so many different body types, it’s important to have an arsenal of poses that accentuate the positives of how someone looks while masking unflattering aspects of their physique. Yet, a lot of portrait photographers make the mistake of actually highlighting things that their subjects want to be hidden.
In this quick guide, we offer up three portrait photography mistakes and provide easy solutions for overcoming them.
Looking the Wrong Way
When taking a portrait of someone, it’s important for that person to have space in which to look. That is, they need to be situated in the frame such that they aren’t looking straight into the edge of the frame. By giving your subject room in which to look, the portrait will have a much greater feeling of space - your subject won’t feel cramped, and the image will have the illusion of greater scale. This isn’t to say that you always have to compose the shot with your subject positioned like the one in the image above, but just keep in mind that giving the subject room to gaze into will give your viewers a better experience as they interact with the photo.
Having Shoulders Square to the Camera
Our shoulders are the broadest part of our body and having that feature accentuated isn’t usually on people’s wish list for their portrait. This is especially true for many female clients, who want less shoulder and more curve in the shot. To accomplish this, simply have your subject turn slightly to the left or right. This will eliminate the head-on view of the shoulders and will minimize the view of the waist as well. A slightly side-on view also accentuates the curvature of a woman’s body, giving you a much more pleasing result.
Not Hiding Neck Creases
Much like people don’t want their shoulders to be highlighted in their portrait, they also don’t want those unflattering neck creases to be evident either. Neck creases can happen to anyone, particularly if their body is turned away from the camera and they are looking back towards you. But masking ugly neck creases is easily accomplished. Have your subject use a wardrobe piece, like a scarf or a high collar to mask their neck. Alternatively, you can shoot from a higher angle such that the subject’s face and chin block the view of their neck. You can also have the subject turn more from their waist, reducing the rotation of the neck and resulting in fewer neck creases.
Regardless of whether you’re a professional portrait photographer or a proud mom taking photos of her kids, these quick tips will help you compose a better portrait. No one wants to see neck creases and broad shoulders, nor do they want to spend time gazing at a portrait of a person staring into the corner of the frame. Implementing these easy fixes won’t take much time or effort, but the results will be worth it!