You can double the unique pictures you make during every shoot by utilizing the No-Look portrait. Most portraits include the subjects looking at the camera smiling. But every pose you set up and each location should also include shots with the subject looking someplace other than into the camera.

Don’t Look Ahead

One key to the No-Look portrait is that the subject should rarely be looking right where their body is facing. When the subject is looking downward in-line with the rest of their body it looks a little depressed or like they’re contemplating their belly button. Instead, have your subject look a bit to the side.

I often ask them to look down past their elbow or tilt their ear toward their shoulder and then look to the side. One thing to pay attention to is that you’re not increasing the appearance of double chins. To avoid this, have your subjects kind of arch their heads forward in an arch and then turn. Try this yourself right now: pay attention to how tilting your head can inflate the area of your neck under your chin, and then try extending your neck before tilting or leaning into the tilt with your body.

Look Across

Another good way to position your subjects is to have them look opposite their body. If the body is facing leftward, turn their face to the right. This can accentuate the musculature of the shoulders and neck and it’s often very flattering.

When you’ve got a couple in the photo, consider these tips for both of them and move them around until you get flattering positions for both of them. And remember all your other techniques for making portraits–get them in the light just right, and get their most flattering side facing the camera.


The No-Look portrait will give you variety for every pose. Instead of shooting ten of the same pose and position, change it up between each frame. You need to practice this. And when you’re shooting and working out the kinks in the poses, be sure to shoot a frame with each move so your subjects feel like progress is being made. Tell them they look good, and now do this. You’ll only show them the best in the end, but it might take you a few frames to get there.

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