RE: How to Pose and Light for Portraits of Bigger People

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by AgentDrex, Jun 29, 2011.

  1. AgentDrex

    AgentDrex Well-Known Member

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    A few of my friends are, how would you say, a little heavier. If I take photos of them, what is the best way to pose and light them? I know head-shots would work but I'm thinking in terms of including their whole person in the photo.

    I don't have lights, I use natural lighting (in my case, the sun) and a homemade reflector. But please include lighting tips with actual lights as well...I will end up putting together a nice kit at some point in the near-to-distant future...

    I realize I should just search the threads for previous discussions of this topic but since I'm a jerk, I'm asking for any input......again if the case be so....

    Thank you in advance for any assistance.
     
  2. EPPhoto

    EPPhoto New Member

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    I know it's bad to shoot women and "heavier" people straight on. I've always been told a 45 degree angle is the best and most flattering.
     
  3. AgentDrex

    AgentDrex Well-Known Member

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    Two examples:

    #1
    [​IMG]

    #2
    [​IMG]
     
  4. EPPhoto

    EPPhoto New Member

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    I think somewhere right in the middle of those two angles would be perfect. Then you lose the belly sticking out but don't get the width issue.
     
  5. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member

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    When shooting portraits, one of the first things you should do, is evaluate the subject and try to discover what their best angles will be. Of course, it is often advisable not to accentuate people's overweightedness, but not if it creates a worse photo.

    Posing will certainly be important. As mentioned, when someone is facing the camera directly, with head and body...the camera will see their whole width, making them look their biggest. By turning them, the camera will see less of them, thus giving the impression of less size.
    Take note of how parts of a person's body will look different, depending on their pose/position. A big one is how the neck looks, depending on the position of the head. If a person pulls their head back, they get more of a neck, and heavier people may get chins or rolls. But if they push their head/jaw forward, the neck skin is taken up and stretched, thus looking better. This isn't natural for people, so you usually have to keep reminding them to 'stick their face out'. Also, shooting from a higher angle, and having them look up at you, will accomplish the same thing.
    Having someone turn their head & neck away from the front, can also make for a better looking neck/chin etc...but while it looks better on the side they turn away from, it looks worse on the side they turn to, so be careful.

    Pay attention to how they are standing or leaning, and where they place their weigh. For example, if someone puts all their weight onto one leg, that led may appear larger, but it can make the other one look slimmer. If someone is leaning forward and puts their weight onto their hands/arms, their arms and especially shoulders will look bigger. So sometimes you can have a great pose, but you have to ask them to shift their weight off of a leg or arm.

    There is such a thing as masculine and feminine poses. Feminine poses often involve more leaning or turning, usually with the idea that you want them to have a slight S-curve. So if a hip is cocked one way, the head can go the same direction, giving their body a curve.
    For a masculine pose, you probably don't want them to tilt their head, although turning it is OK.

    As for lighting, especially for portraits, you can use short lighting to make people look slimmer. Short lighting is when you light the side of their head/face that is away from the camera. Another way of putting it, is that you are lighting the far ear, but not the close one. This is the opposite of broad lighting.

    And for shots of more than just the head, consider where your light is going and what it's lighting up. If you're shooting a portrait and someone has a large body, you probably want to draw more attention to their face, than their body. So make sure that their face has more light than their body. To this end, you'll want the face to have more contrast in the scene....so have them match (key) their clothing with the background that you're shooting with. This will put more emphasis on the face and less on the body. But beware that big patches of skin can also draw attention when they contrast. So if someone has large arms, it may not be idea to have them wear shorts sleeves etc. Certainly to avoid having big patches of skin face the camera. This also goes for the back of someone's hand, especially women. If you must include hands in the photo, have them pose so that the sides are to the camera, rather than the back.
     
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  6. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member

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    Great advice from Mike! I'll add that short lighting is often more suitable for heavier people. With women, have them cock their near-side leg slightly. Also remember that clothing and surroundings can play a huge part.

    Consider the desired result: If you want a feminine portrait, than have her dress accordingly. Choose clothing which will enhance your intended affect; vertical stripes have a slimming effect for instance. You can also choose clothing which will blend slightly with the background; for instance, if you want to shoot against a dark green hedge, having the person dress in a similar colour of green clothing will help disguise any size or figure concerns. You don't want to have them all in black against black so that they disapear, but reducing the subject/background contrast can be helpful.
     
  7. shmne

    shmne Active Member

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    A tip I can't give often enough:

    Most people are awkward, and they feel very uncomfortable posing in front of a camera. Give them something to interact with that may be in their comfort zone and watch as posture corrects. Also giving the photo a purpose allows a self-conscious model have confidence in what they are doing.

    Remember a good photographer is a great technician (think lighting, posing, composition, exposure) and a better psychologist (think subject interaction, and getting them to feel comfortable).

    Edit: Also a good rule of thumb, if there's two - differentiate . This is a rule that can be broken with someone lighter and more comfortable with their body, but someone that is a bit heavier will need. For example: Two arms and hands - have one on the hip (remember elbow out) and the other relaxed (again off the body, arms hugging the body make any model look bigger). Two legs - have one forward and cocked slightly and the other back. Two shoulders, angled towards / away from camera. Eyes - turn head or tilt head. These are just quick examples but I think you get the point.
     
  8. AgentDrex

    AgentDrex Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the great tips. I hope that others read this thread and it helps them as well. I will definitely keep all this in mind for when I shoot my bigger friends.
     
  9. GerryDavid

    GerryDavid Active Member

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    Found this on google. :)

    is it wrong to ask a larger girl if she would like to be photoshopped or prefer to be more natural? One could explain that the camera adds 10 and photoshop can take off 15. :)

    I dont want to offend the customer.
     
  10. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member

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    That all depends on the girl. I would be inclined to ask if there was any special enhancement she would like done to the image.
     
  11. DiskoJoe

    DiskoJoe New Member

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    Shoot from above so they have to look up at you. This will get rid of double chin. A slight turn the right way can hide some weight too. Also layering clothing can work wonders too.
     
  12. joshhuntnm

    joshhuntnm New Member

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    Shooting from above is one possibility. if the social situation allows, talk to them about dressing in a way that works. I'd start with their feet at at 90 degree angle. have them twist their upper body halfway toward the camera. One hand on a hip. back straight. Take a deep breath.
     
  13. 2WheelPhoto

    2WheelPhoto New Member

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    puppet-warp tool can shed a pound or two [​IMG]
     
  14. GerryDavid

    GerryDavid Active Member

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    puppet warp?

    Ive been watching some seminars lately and one girl uses the warp tool in transform after selecting a trouble area and it looks much faster and better than liquify. :) Im just afraid of insulting them.
     
  15. gsgary

    gsgary Well-Known Member

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    Short light them so you are using shadow to give the illusion of them being slimmer
     
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