Overcoming Physical Flaws When Photographing People - The Face
Photographing people is great fun. Whether I'm using a professional or amateur model, I just love photographing people in my studio, or on location. However, (isn't there always a however?) no body is perfect. Even the supermodels that make thousands of dollars a day have some flaws. It's just that they look perfect because the model and photographer know how to hide the flaws, and what they can't hide can be retouched. In this article, I'm going to talk about female models, but almost everything here also applies to male models as well. You can use these techniques with many different types of photography, including portraiture, fashion, boudoir and nude.
So lets go over the most common facial flaws you will encounter, and what options you have in dealing with them.
A model with a prominent forehead can tilt her chin upwards, or you can lower the camera angle. Use hats, scarves and similar props to cover her forehead. By bringing the edge of a hat or scarf to a couple of inches above the eyebrows, you will give the effect of a much smaller forehead, and even a lower hairline. Bangs will also help with this.
Let me sneak in something for men. If your model is bald, lower the camera position or don't use a hair light. A hat or bandana will cover the sparse area with no indication of balding. This is assuming that baldness bothers your model. Old, bald, wrinkled, so what. Don't we guys have it easy?
For a wrinkled face, try diffuse lighting, a soft focus filter or a three-quarter pose. This will soften the face, and enhance the facial structure. Remember that some models feel that they have earned ever one of their wrinkles, and don't want to hide even one.
A double chin can be hidden by raising the main light or using a high camera angle. Have the model tilt their chin upwards and/or push her chin slightly forward. This stretches out the skin under the chin and even lengthens the neck a little. I often have a model push her chin forward. It's a fast and easy solution to this problem.
Eyes can sometimes be a problem. If they protrude, have the model look downwards. Her eyelids and eyelashes will help to partially conceal the eyes. For sunken eyes, lower the main light to eliminate the shadows in the eye sockets or use a lower lighting ratio.
To hide large ears you can shoot your model in profile, use a scarf or vailed hat to cover the ears, or hide the far ear behind the head and place the near ear in a shadow. If your model has long hair, you can use it to hide large ears too.
Your model may want her nose to look smaller. This can be done by tilting her chin upwards or having her face directly into the camera. Her nose will look shorter, since you are seeing it straight on. Lower the main light to shorten the shadow of her nose or lower the camera position to make the nose look shorter. There are some women that have a larger nose that actually enhances their appearance, so be aware of this. You wouldn't want to hide Angelica Houston's nose, would you?
Some people have problems with glasses, and the reflections they have. This doesn't bother me, but you could tilt the glasses slightly forward by raising the back of the earpieces or move your lights to reduce or eliminate reflection. Your model can also raise or lower her chin. In extreme cases, you may want to remove the lenses, but this doesn't look natural.
I hope this helps you with some of the situations you will encounter. One last thing. I would avoid mentioning any of these problems to the model. Simply use these techniques to correct or minimize the problem. Commenting to the model about a problem will make her self-conscious, tense or unhappy which will show in the photographs. If the model brings up one or more of these problems, just say you can deal with it, and downplay the flaws. The secret, especially with amateur models, is to make them feel comfortable with you, the shoot and themselves. If they are relaxed, your pictures will look great.
Read part 2, Overcoming Physical Flaws When Photographing People - The Body.
If you're interested in photography, stock images of Arizona and Fine Art Prints of Arizona, visit www.TheCreativesCorner.com