Taking Flattering Photographs
As a photographer it is your responsibility to flatter the people in your pictures. You don’t want your photos to wind up next to a banana peel in your client’s bathroom trash. We’ve all discarded unflattering photos of ourselves, ones that display a triple chin or an ungraceful stance. Fortunately, there are a few tips that you can use to avoid awkward body positions or uncomplimentary shots so you get flattering photographs.
1. Wear the right outfit
First, encourage your subjects to wear clothing that they feel attractive in. It sounds simple and it is. If people aren’t comfortable during the photography session, the final product will reflect that. People’s styles will vary, but a good rule is to stay away from clothing that is too tight or too loose. Tight clothing can accentuate unwanted curves and too-loose clothing can drown a person, also unflattering.
Horizontal stripes can visually widen someone’s body, so this may be a pattern to nix in your next photography session. In addition to selecting flattering patterns, look for colors that make your subject feel beautiful. Those who want to look thinner in photographs should wear dark shades. Black is a figure-trimming color. You can also try other hues like navy blue, mocha, burnt orange or a variety of others. But above all, your clients should feel comfortable and gorgeous no matter what color they wear.
2. Angles to Avoid
Gone are the days when every photograph is taken from a straight-on angle. As a photographer you are a creator; there are endless possibilities for interesting angles and shots. There are also some angles that you may want to stay away from in order to best flatter your subjects, whether large or thin.
For those cute sitting pictures, make sure your subjects’ legs aren’t flattened or squashed. By lifting up their legs about a fourth of an inch, it creates an allusion that they are fully sitting down and results in a more flattering photo. Likewise, encourage your clients not to flatten their arms against their body.
Good posture is key for portrait photographs. When your subjects sit down, make sure they are sitting straight up. It is even a good idea to lean forward a bit. Otherwise, parts of the body can end up looking larger than the head. Tell your clients to bring their head forward a little and tilt it down slightly. The forward position will decrease the chance of neck wrinkles or a double chin.
In most cases, don’t photograph people upwards. For the most flattering results, shoot from eye-level or looking downward. Of course there will be cases where an upward angle provides a unique and creative photographic effect. In this case, the people may be more of a prop and not the main focus. Experiment with various angles and you can pull the best results from those. For standing shots, the most flattering angle is rarely straight on or completely from the side. If you photograph your subject from a 45 degree angle, it’s the most slimming shot. People appear thinner from that angle than straight on.
3. Help your subjects feel comfortable
Ask the person you’re photographing what they want out of the session. Your job isn’t just to take the photographs, there is a type of psychological duty that accompanies your role as a photographer. You should help the people you’re working with feel beautiful, natural and comfortable. You want to capture natural beauty, authentic smiles, laughs and dimples. If someone isn’t comfortable with their body or their profile, there are endless ways to work with them personally to make sure they are happy with the way they look in their pictures.
Find the Light: Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace (video)