When you are taking a client or friend’s portrait, your job is to make them look as good as possible. It’s also your job to infuse their portrait with a certain feeling that is appropriate to the person and the moment. Varying your angle is one way to quickly and easily transform a moderately interesting photo into an impactful shot.
Let’s go over three quick ways to liven up your portraits with various angles.
1. Standing above your subject is often flattering to their face
This is a technique I most often use for headshots and close up portraits. Positioning yourself so that you’re looking down on your subject often reduces the appearance of (real or imagined) double chins, and tends to slim them down in general. Your female clients will appreciate this one especially. :) It also gives the photo a more approachable, intimate look.
2. Standing below your subject can add a feeling of power
Another option is to stand slightly below your subject. I often find this useful when I include most of the subject’s body, and want to imbue them with a sense of power and confidence. An added bonus is that it can make their surroundings appear more dramatic and striking as well.
However, a quick word of warning: Standing below your subject while taking an up-close shot is often not the most flattering perspective. A double chin can often result — even if they don’t have one! At the very least, you might find yourself looking up their nose, so I tend to practice getting below my subjects when I’m including most of their body in the frame, as well as the background landscape.
3. Adding a slight tilt can add a dynamic feel to your portrait
When taking full body shots, I will sometimes tilt the angle of the shot in order to add a dynamic flair to it. This can be done in-camera, or in the editing stage afterward with software, such as with Photoshop.
Use this one with caution, as you don’t want your photos to appear to be accidentally askew! It has to be done purposefully. When doing a photoshoot, I will include a handful of photos done in this style, but certainly not every photo.
Work those angles!
When working with a portrait client, I encourage you to experiment with varying your angles during the shoot. Over time, you will get a feel for which angles are the most appropriate and flattering for particular clients, and also which angles work the best with your own personal style. While it takes more effort (and exercise!) to hop around during a shoot, it will dramatically improve your results.
And don’t worry about looking silly to your client; they will actually take you more seriously because of the thoughtfulness that you put into their session! Learning how to use angles to your advantage will help you create more powerful portraits, and therefore happy clients!