When taking head shots and upper body portraits of people one simple posing tip is to angle the shoulders of your subject rather than to have them even or squared in your shot.
While the shoulders might not seem like an important aspect of a portrait they can often set the tone for an image as they’re the widest part of your subject and they are visually what the main point of focus for your image (the head) is sitting upon.
As often as not, angling the shoulders slightly gives you shot balance and helps lead your viewer’s eye into the shot towards your main focal point. It also stops your subject seeming out of proportion as it lessons the width of the shoulders slightly. Getting this effect might mean getting your subject to lean in one direction or another or it could simply mean getting them to turn their body a little so you’re not photographing them directly front on. Another technique can be to frame your subject slightly off centre so that one shoulder is out of the frame.
Some believe that in positioning your subjects shoulders make the one closest to camera the lower of the two – but I’ve found that you can get an interesting effect by doing it the other way around too.
Of course – this isn’t a fixed rule and sometimes the completely front on symmetrical shot can have a very powerful and confronting affect on the viewer. So as always – experiment with posing your subject in a variety of ways and see what works best for you and your subject.
In the featured portrait , I’ve tightly framed into the left shoulder, angled the right shoulder away from the camera showing space between the edge of the image and the end of the shoulder and start of the arm. By doing this, I slimed down the appearance of my subject.
If you would like to know more, or would like to commission a professional portrait photographer, please contact me.