Friday, March 16, 2012

How to take better portrait pictures

Great tips for both photographer and subject ...

Six Tips for Better Portraits -

Peter Hurley, a leading head-shot artist for actors, celebrities and executives, said people look like badly embalmed cadavers because they try to pose, but lack the skill to look natural doing it...

... Here are some of his top tips from those offered in his instructional video, “The Art Behind the Headshot.”

  1. Keep your chin up. People have a tendency to tuck their chins in photos, creating an unflattering neck wattle. The simple way to fix it, said Mr. Hurley, is “bring your forehead toward the camera.” From the side it looks like they are doing an E.T. imitation, but from the front it cleans up the neck and jaw line. For shots from the side he instructs, “Bring your ear toward the camera.”
  2. Get your Eastwood on. Mr. Hurley said that people always look better when they squint slightly. The crucial word is slightly – not a pained expression as if reading fine print. The real trick is to squint with the lower lids only – think of the expression Clint Eastwood makes when assessing Lee Van Cleef before a showdown. “In my opinion, fear and uncertainly comes from the eyes,” Mr. Hurley said. “If someone wants to look confident, have them squint.”
  3. Have a laugh. Most people tend to have a fake grin, with pursed lips, or they squeeze the mouth tightly as if trying to keep a secret from escaping. Mr. Hurley’s goal is to get his subjects looking confident but approachable. “I will tell them to allow a little space between their lips,” he said, just enough to breathe. “The mouth is where all of the approachability comes from.”
  4. Frame it up. The most important visual element of a good head shot is the eyes. Mr. Hurley frames his subjects to the rule of thirds. That rule of composition means if you were to draw a tic-tac-toe board on your finished photo, the major elements would be on one of the lines or intersections. Mr. Hurley gets in close enough that the top of the subject’s head is often out of the frame. “If I want the top of the head,” he said, “I shoot more of the chest so the eyes are still one third from the top...

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