How to find the good side of a persons face for a Portrait?
In this portrait tutorial that Photographer Joe Edelman shares on YouTube, he will talk about portrait posing and how to find your subjects good side. When it comes to picking a subject’s best side for a portrait, there is a LOT of information online and in books that is based on science but unfortunately most of the science leaves out the variables of makeup and hair styles and camera angles and lighting and all that photography stuff.
So I want to explain the science to you – in layman’s terms and Be sure to stay tuned until the end and I will explain what my experience has taught me about which is the best side and how to make that decision when shooting a portrait.
So the science has taught us that we want to try to create balance and symmetry in the face to make our subject look their best
Remember that photographing people is a relationship game. So when I meet a model or a portrait subject for the first time I spend a few minutes talking with them to break the ice and while I am doing that I study them. I pay attention to their personality, their body language and yes – their face – specifically, I want to see how symmetrical their face is.
Public Service Announcement If you ever meet a someone with a perfectly symmetrical face – remain calm – don’t walk – RUN in the other direction – the Aliens have landed!!! NO human being is perfectly symmetrical
So I am looking to see if the person has a particularly crooked jaw or smile or nose and most importantly I am looking to see which eye is larger and if it is noticeably larger or just barely larger. I am also going to say things to get the person to smile and laugh during our conversation because sometimes that will cause one eye to be considerably larger than the other or even for a smile to go crooked.
Once I have gathered all of that information, I can begin to make decisions about camera angles and lighting to flatter the face. By this time, I know what features I may need to hide.
I don’t pay too much attention to the left side of the face science – mainly because I know I can control perception of the face with lighting and camera angle and makeup and hair styling, so for me the MOST important factor in determining the best side is which eye is the smallest.
If there is very little difference between the two eyes – I will frequently photograph a person looking straight into my lens which is a very powerful view.
If one eye is noticeably smaller, then I simply use perspective to balance things out to get closer to that beauty concept of both sides of the face being equal.
The simple solution is to place the smaller eye closer to the camera lens which will make it look larger in relationship to the larger eye – hence – making them closer in size. You can do this with a ¾ turn of the face. Make sure the nose doesn’t break the edge of the face and be sure that you can still see the edge of the far eye – you don’t want the eye falling out of the face.
Text, image and video via Joe Edelman