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Portrait Tips: Go for the tilt

People standing right next to each other seem like they are close, but once you ask them to tilt their heads together you’ll see that they were really miles apart. Anytime you photograph two people together, you’ll make an infinitely better photo if you just ask them to tilt their heads together.

Why tilt?

You should do this with friends, coworkers, families, kids, couples, everybody. Now, of course, coworkers standing next to each other probably shouldn’t be touching their temples together, but just tilting their heads toward each other changes the whole mood of the photo and demonstrates affability and even respect.

When working with families, tilting the heads together makes people look demonstrably closer to one another–physically and emotionally–and when families see their own picture hanging on the wall and they look close, this can actually affect the way a family behaves toward one another in the home.

Coach the tilt

You’ll have to coach people through it, though. When you say, “Tilt your head toward her,” you’ll see all manner of reactions and weird faces movements. The best thing is to demonstrate and say, “Do what I do and gently tilt your head toward her like this.”

You might say, “Your temple is that little divet on the side of your head next to your eye–gently put your faces together so your temples are barely touching.”

When you’re ready for a laughing expression, try, “Now, gently nuzzle your temples together like kittens.” Trust me, it’s a blast and you’ll get great expressions with people who truly look close.

Conclusion

When people stand next to each other or even put their arms around them, they feel like they’re really close but the camera just sees a chasm between them. Tilting their heads together not only makes them appear closer together emotionally, but it also alters the whole mood of the photo. Remember to coach your subjects how to do it. If you’re patient and play with it you’ll end up making the best portraits of their lives.

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

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