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How to Find the Best Angle to Photograph People

Updated on July 21, 2012
There are lots of factors to consider when doing portrait photography
There are lots of factors to consider when doing portrait photography | Source

Portrait photography can be one of the most challenging types of photography. When doing portrait photography it is important to capture a memorable image that captures the subjects personality and essence.

A portrait gives a photographer the opportunity to capture a subject as they are in that moment and forever freeze it in time. The camera angle can make or break an image and change it from an ordinary portrait to a photograph that will be cherished for years to come.

You don't want to emphasize the parts of a person which they dislike as they will never like the image. Instead you want to emphasize their best features and take away from what they feel are their flaws.

Pay attention to body type

For thin or underweight people: shoot straight on to make them appear toned and emphasize any curves they may have.
For overweight or large builds: shoot them at a slanted angle to minimize their body shape.

This subject may be short, however, the photographer has given her the illusion of height by photographing her low to the ground and accentuating the length from her feet.
This subject may be short, however, the photographer has given her the illusion of height by photographing her low to the ground and accentuating the length from her feet. | Source

Be mindful of height

For tall people: photograph from above so they do not seem elongated and their height is not the focus of the image
For short people: shoot from below to give them the illusion of height and a longer body

When photographing faces

Zoom in to flatter your subjects face. For people with thin faces, having them directly into the camera will make their faces appear fuller. For people with fuller faces, have them look up at the camera or turn their face at an angle to the camera to be sure you do not make them appear larger.

In this image the light source is entirely on the left hand side. This highlights the features on the right side of his face, however leaves his left side in complete shadow.
In this image the light source is entirely on the left hand side. This highlights the features on the right side of his face, however leaves his left side in complete shadow. | Source

Pay attention to lighting

If you shoot with the lighting source behind the subject, their face will be in shadows so to properly light your subject shoot with the light towards them.
To highlight the subjects features: angle the light to the side of your subject
To equally light the subject: distribute the light evenly towards your subject

Watch for reflections

If your subject wears glasses, be sure to shoot slightly above the subject and at a slight angle to avoid glare from the glasses. This technique will also work if you are shooting your subject in front of a window or anything else prone to glare.

Never use overhead lighting

Overhead lighting is almost always unflattering when used in portrait photography - regardless of the shape or size of your subject.

Try different angles

You never know what features your subject will prefer and what they despise, so be sure to play around with different angles to ensure there's at least some shots that they will love! Trying something different may just give you the best shot of the day!

Practice makes perfect!

These tips will help you to take a fantastic image, but practice really does make perfect when it comes to photography. Don't feel discouraged if your first couple of images don't come out the way you want - keep on trying and you will keep on learning!

Also know that most photographers take hundreds of shots at each shoot in order to capture the perfect one and with digital cameras it means you can!

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    • Dave Collado profile image

      Dave Collado 

      4 years ago from San Jose California

      I never knew that about overhead lighting. Thank you!

    • kissayer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristy Sayer 

      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks Helena! It's so easy just to shoot straight on, but sometimes that's exactly why you don't like your photos and the subject doesn't like how they look! Angle is definitely important :)

    • Helena Ricketts profile image

      Helena Ricketts 

      6 years ago from Indiana

      This is excellent information! I especially like the info on angles with body types. It makes sense now so my next photos should be a lot better which will my my mother happy! :)

    • kissayer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristy Sayer 

      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks Dorsi! :)

    • Dorsi profile image

      Dorsi Diaz 

      6 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

      Very useful tips here. The angle you shoot from is so important. Voted up and awesome!

    • kissayer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristy Sayer 

      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thank you! :)

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 

      6 years ago

      Wonderful hub with very useful tips. Like you said "there are a lot of factors to consider with portrait photography" and this article gives great tips on where to start. As with anything, practice makes perfect. Thanks for the great ideas! Rated up, useful, interesting, and awesome.

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