Preparing for Posterity
…with candid photographs
…with candid photographs
This Post: Light, Posing, Angles, Expression, Perspective
Use daylight, never flash, which is cruel;
Flattering light: from a window during bright hours, or outside if very early morning or evening, or overcast.
Avoid direct sunlight where possible, or if you must then position them with the sun behind them, i.e. it would be on you, the photographer, (no, listen): make sure the picture doesn’t include the orb of the sun (‘hide’ it behind your subject’s head, for example), and turn on your flash. This will light up the natural areas of shadows on the face, while the sun behind her head produces a glowing halo effect, and the final result can be stunning.
Taken on stage, but the principle is the same – the light behind the subject is a stage light. Note that the picture is taken from below and from a distance using a telephoto lens – both flattering choices.
Useful if they’re holding something that will reflect – say a sheaf of papers, which while not in the final shot, will bounce light back into the areas of the face which go naturally into shadow – under the chin, the corners either side of the nose, the eye sockets. If reflected on the cheek they can give a glowing look that’s very flattering.
In this case there is some flash on the child’s face, but the pool is providing an excellent reflector as well.
AVOID: Bright light such as flash or direct sunlight.
Don’t take pictures of the subject head on, but ideally in profile or three quarters so that one can see both her eyes. A wonderful pose is to position her seated or standing facing you but at 45 degrees, then ask her to twist her head round to look at you without moving the rest of her body. It stretches the neck and minimises the double chin.
Mum, taken in the early 90’s also demonstrating the three-quarters pose. The sun was just in the right place lighting up her face and leaving her body in shade, so I decided to take the grab shot from above her head, usually not recommended.
Use the wind: If it’s windy and you’re outside, you’re in luck, particularly on an overcast day. Windblown hair can look romantic in a candid portrait (or for example if the subject is laughingly trying to tame it), provided it doesn’t also make her look like she’s having a bad hair day. Most of the time it will look best if the hair is blowing away from the face. These sorts of pictures become much stronger and more stunning if they are turned into monochrome. Bright red anoraks and noses recovering from heavy colds are thus neutralised…
The original picture showed more of Marina, but I liked the effect of just concentrating on her face. This is what I mean about romantic hair, and the ‘heroic’ image of taking the picture from a lower viewpoint.