1. Never shoot your subject head on! Did you know when you photograph a person with both of their shoulders and toes pointing at you, you are creating a very unflattering image? The body position creates a block to the flow of light. The broad shoulders add at least 10 pounds to your subject. If you are photographing a quarterback or linebacker, then go for it, but if not, don’t do it! Instead, turn your subject at an angle away from the camera. If the head angle is correct, you should not be able to see the subject’s far ear.
Never have your subjects face into the sun! Unless you want your subjects to mimic their favorite Kung-Fu movie, don’t face them into the sunlight! Putting the sun behind your subjects provides a nice hair light and gives depth to your portrait. With Myrtle Beach photography it can be tricky with sunrise and sunset!
3. Do not shoot up the subject’s nose! I have seen this done all too often—by accident I’m sure, but then again… You usually want the camera to be slightly above looking down on your subject. It is also OK to be the same height. Watch closely when framing your image. Can you see nostrils, and how far up does it go?
4. Avoid large whites of the eyes! You want the subject’s iris to be in the middle of their eye. Look at your subject. Ask them to keep their face toward you but look to the right with their eyes. Now all you see is white. That creates a very poor image. If you need to move your subject’s head in off camera direction, have them focus on a mid point in front of them or gaze back at you with the eyes.
5. Never pose a subject so close to a background that you get a hard black shadow. Most people think if they are not using flash, that shadows upon backdrops are not an issue. That is not true. Our own bodies will cast a shadow from the sun. It is important to let that light wrap around your subject to create a softer light. When you can, pull your subject six feet or more away from the backdrop.
6. Do not put your subjects in weird, uncomfortable poses! Chances are if it doesn’t really “look” natural, it’s not! Although sometimes it is fun as a warm up or ice breaker to play around with goofy silly “odd” poses, your client will not be happy with a rigid awkward scene. When they look back at that moment, all they will be able to remember is how strange they felt creating it. You are more a producer than the director of that moment.
7. Never pose a man in a feminine pose unless asked to do so! When photographing men, it’s always good to make them look masculine. Posing can shift that masculine look to feminine it not done right. Do not use the same depth of head tilting you would use for a woman. Make sure to use his shoulders, and arms as hard right angles, to show a sign of strength.
8. Avoid shooting your subject’s behind! This rule applies to every person except infants and babies—and even then should be used with finesse and not overdone. I recently stumbled upon a local photographer who has several shots on his website with teenage and adult subjects bent over with their behind sticking way out in front of the camera. Unless your subject is posing for porn, this is ridiculous. Remember what ever is closest to the camera will appear the largest. Not flattering at all!!
9. Avoid objects in the background that ruin your image! You framed your portrait, took the time to get the body angles right and the expression, then you took the shot. If you are only focused on the subject, you might miss the tree or flagpole that is growing out of the top of their head! You may or not be able to Photoshop it, so get it right the first time and notice your background space. Is it OK?
10. Avoid glasses glare! First, kindly ask your subject if they feel OK taking some shots without their glasses. If they don’t wear them all the time, it will work. If you have control over the lighting, take them outside in the shade and use a reflector. If you are indoors, bounce your flash from the ceiling or nearby wall to avoid the glare. If you’re not able to bounce, shoot from a bit higher angle and ask the subject to sit or stand up straight, lean forward slightly, and maybe lower the chin a tiny bit. Do not lose the neck; if you do you are shooting too high.
About the Author
If you are looking for some great examples, check out Myrtle Beach photographer D. Marie. D. Marie Photography is located in Myrtle Beach, SC. With over 15 years in the industry, we are a full service photography company and can help you with any of your photo needs. Please visit us online at http://www.dmarie-photography.com. More tips and articles are available at our Myrtle Beach Photography Blog http://www.myrtlebeachphotographybydmarie.blogspot.com
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