Technology is increasingly putting the potential for a great photograph in the hands of people all around the world. Even if you’ve never had any formal training, taking an awesome photograph can happen at any moment. Here are a few tips for making those moments happen even more often.
For the self-concious non-model types…
Ever wonder how so many celebrities appear to know just how to pose for a photo? A lot of it involves posturing to make the subject appear thinner. Remember that much of what the viewer will see involves perspective, so shooting from extreme angles should be reserved for the sort of thing where you are illustrating something that looks extreme (some sports, musicians, etc.) Here are a few tips to pose a subject.
Double Chins .. Make sure your subject pulls their head, just slightly forward. Double chins appear on thinner subjects if they try to “turtle” their head back into their neck.
It’s in the feet … Ask your subject to plant one foot in front of the other and place their weight on their back foot. This sideways angle will give a “thinning” appearance.
Cock their shoulders … Unbalance your subjects shoulders to avoid emphasizing their width. The head is usually much smaller than the shoulders and adding a little shoulder lean into the photos will lead the viewers eye as well as soften the impact of the shoulder width.
Suck it… in . Not too much! If your subject is sensitive about their weight, ask them to breathe in while pulling their shoulders back.
Hold this … Give your subject an item to hold on to, or place them in an interesting environment. Preferably the item and environment are relatable to the focus of the story. People that are doing something, are much more interesting than “floating” people in front of a backdrop.
Look down … The best camera angle for most subjects is to look slightly up at the person subject, while they are looking down. Looking down at a subject is rarely a flattering angle. The more imposing your subject should be, the more extreme the angle should be.
Stop the staring … Don’t always let every subject stare and smile. Sometimes you need to ask them to either relax, or just look in a different direction. Sometimes looking just off from the camera is enough to make the shot more captivating.It creates a sense of intrigue with the viewer. Another option is to have your subject look at an object within the frame. This generates a second point of interest, as well creates a connection between the two subjects.
Sometimes, no matter how good the subject may be at posing, they get snapped by a lame photographer. Don’t be a lame photographer.
Interesting angles … I know, above I outline some pretty clear examples of “best” angles. Sometimes, you have to ignore that though and go with an interesting angle to add a little bit more pop to a photo. By all means, break away from simply standing at eye-level with your subject. Those sort of photos may work for the casual photographer, but if you are trying to get your work into print, you need to offer something that is interesting to look at.
Get lit … Consider the lighting of your subject. You may be able to utilize natural light, or you may be restricted to the indoors, or require flash. All of these different light sources give a different look to your photos. I won’t go into the technical aspects, but be aware of the light type and direction when you are shooting. Back and sidelighting as well as the casting of interesting shadows (such as through a window blind) can make an otherwise boring shot exciting.
Get tilted … I’ve heard arguments against this, but I think stepping outside of the horizontal/vertical box can often add some fun and drama to your photographs. If a subject looks dull in typical frames, try flipping the camera on a diagonal.
A Final Word…
One of the most important tool to improve your photography is to change your attitude about photography. You can’t see yourself as a reporter that also take photographs. Give yourself a “slash” title. Reporter/photographer. Put as much care and diligence into composing a nice feature photograph as you would put into writing your story.
Remember that your job is tell a story. Photos that merely fill up white space will never fill your inbox with job offers, or even story ideas from subjects. A good photo is what will introduce your reader to your story. It is often even more important that the headline. Try to keep that in mind before you trip the shutter…