When someone says, ‘I don’t like having my photo taken.’ What they are really saying is ‘I don’t want you to take an unflattering portrait of me, tag me and put them on Facebook!’
So, if your friends are threatening to take out a restraining order out on you, if you come near them with a camera, you perhaps need to get to grips with your camera angles. Getting the angle right is an essential part of getting great looking portraits.
It’s in every photographer’s interest to master portraiture quickly: More trust, equals more opportunities to practice your portrait photography, so listen up!
What do I mean by camera angle? Well in this instance it refers to an imaginary line from the centre of your cameras lens, to the eyes of the person you’re photographing.
Low Angle Shot
Placing the camera below the person is known as a low camera angle. This is used in the movies to give the main person sense of power or importance as the viewer is forced to look up to them. But in terms of portraits, this if often a no go zone. Not many people have the physique for low camera angles. It can leave the subject looking ‘a bit chinny’. Your friends will not thank you for taking low camera angled portraits.
For a more flattering portrait use a ‘neutral camera angle,’ this is where the camera and the person’s eyes are on the same level. When the subject is looking straight at the camera this can convey a sense of intimacy between them and the viewer.
High Camera Angle
I find that by far the most flattering of camera angle for portraits is a high camera angle. A high camera angle is where the camera is placed above the person’s eyeline. If you are a short arse like me, stand on the nearest chair to get a bit of additional height. Alternatively turn on live view, so you don’t need to look through the view finder when you hold the camera above your head.
The high camera angle is great for hiding double chins and naturally shows more of the persons eyes as they look up to the camera. For these reasons the high camera angle is a real crowd pleaser when it comes to portraits. Even the most reluctant subjects will be begging you to take their portraits if you use this angle. Note of caution though: too high a camera angle can create a sense of weakness or inferiority in the subject.
To make the most of the persons eyes, get them to look slightly above your camera, this will ensure that the camera sees more of their eyes and less of their eyelids. This will give an overall more flattering look, which your friends will thank you for.
Now to really get your friends thanking you for your photos, you need to get them to pose a little. It doesn’t matter if your subjects is male or female they can both benefit from not being square on to the camera. A slight three quarters turn is a win win situation for the photographer and subject: you will be making the subject look slimmer whilst also adding some depth to your photos.
Let me know how you get on. Hopefully your mates will be hitting the ‘like’ button on their portraits rather than the ‘unfriend’ button. Happy Snapping.
If you love this sort of photo project, don’t forget to give me your email address (on the top right hand corner of this page) as well as monthly updates, you’ll also receive a free ebook ’10 Fun Cool Things You Can Do Right Now With Your DSLR’.Sue Venables
Let me know how you get on and if you enjoy this project then please share it using the buttons below.