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Super quick (and easy!) tip for more flattering portraits

One of my goals when I take portraits is to make sure the resulting photograph is flattering to the subject. There are a ton of techniques one can use to improve a portrait from lighting to digital alteration but one of the very best and quickest ways also happens to be one of the easiest. Here are three photos of the same subject taken from three different perspectives (uh, please forgive the model). In the first, the camera was slightly below the subject shooting up, then at eye-level in the second, and finally a few inches above the subject:

BelowEye-levelAbove

It’s clear to me that the last photo is the most flattering. Not only does this perspective make me look thinner, notice that it also opens up the eyes and hides wrinkle-revealing shadows. A few inches of elevation above the subject’s eye-level is all you need.

John Watson

John is the original founder of Photodoto, but after running it for 4 years he had to focus on different things. If you’re interested in what John has been up to recently, you can check is personal blog or browse his photo blog.

  • That’s amazing how much of a difference a few inches of elevation can make!

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  • Amen to that John. This is something I learned as well, and one of my best tools for portrait photography is my step ladder. It’s the simple things that make the big difference.

  • Great tip!

  • Phil

    This works great until this guy looks like me and the top of his head throws off a shine that will blind the camera!

  • Thanks for the tip!

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  • Great tip! This was something I had to teach the husband years ago. I have a theory that more women know this than men, even those not so much interested in photography. We’re more prone to taking self-portraits and we all discover early on that we look best when the camera’s pointing slightly down at us. The secret’s out. :)
    -Lisa

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  • Another thing that makes the third photo work better than the second one is the catchlight location in the eyes. They’re centered in the second photo, which looks unnatural. Having them toward the bottom in the third isn’t ideal, but it’s much better than centered.

    Another contributing factor to the thinness is that the lighting is “short” – that is, part of the face is in shadow.

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