I’ve written before that everyone who gets in front of my camera will end up looking at my toes and that this is going to help me capture great looking eyes. Well here’s another tip that is sure to help everyone look better in photographs. You should practice it yourself while brushing your teeth each day so you can clearly see the effect it has on the impact of your portraits.

Lean Toward the Camera

This is so simple but so vital–in fact, when I’m using someone else’s phone to make a portrait of them (like at a landmark), I always ask them to lean toward me a little bit. Everyone should lean toward the camera a little. Not like you’re going to tip over, but just enough.

Try standing in front of the mirror and stand up straight. Now put one foot slightly forward, like half the length of your own foot forward, not much. Now lean forward over that foot and see how much more interested you look? You look like you’re engaging with the viewer, and the same is true for everyone else.

Not only does it make your subject look more engaged, but it also puts their face a little closer to the camera, which puts everything else, like hips and bellies, a little farther from the camera, which de-emphasizes them. It’s a flattering way for everyone to stand.

Look at my pal Doug. In the first picture he’s standing straight up, and in the second he’s leaning slightly forward, and he looks much more engaged (ignore the expression differences).

It’s important that folks lean with their whole bodies. Don’t bend at the waist. Just kinda shift your weight forward onto that closer foot.


Leaning forward will make your subjects look like they are more engaged and interested in their viewer, which is whoever is looking at the photo. Simply ask them to lean forward with their whole bodies. In fact, you should try this in your conversations. Try leaning forward and looking interested in what people are talking about, and you’ll find your interactions reaching higher levels than ever before, and you can lend that kind of impact to your clients by having them lean toward the camera.

Portrait Tips come out each week, and you can see them all right here.