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Overcoming imperfections

Tips for de-emphasizing physical characteristics.


Good posture is important, and usually can be achieved with a little coaching.
Good posture is important, and usually can be achieved with a little coaching.

Very few people are perfectly proportioned or have what is considered to be an ideal face and figure. Most of the girls you will photograph will probably have some exceptional features that should be emphasized and some flaws that should be down-played. This section provides tips and pointers for dealing with imperfections when taking pictures of girls so that the subjects look their best. Our section on posing also provides advice on emphasizing a girl’s best characteristics and minimizing imperfections. And, don’t miss our section on make-up, which can not only be used to conceal a number of minor flaws but can also alter facial features. Eye make-up, for example, can make small eyes look larger.

POSTURE

If a girl is having trouble assuming proper posture, tell her to imagine she has a string attached to the top of her head, and someone is pulling it up. You will usually find this helps her to properly straighten her stance.


THE FACE

A wide face can appear narrower if photographed with the head turned in a three-quarter view. This also works with puffy cheeks, or you can have the girl suck them in for a narrower look, but don’t overdo it.

THE NOSE

A girl with a prominent nose should be photographed using a portrait lens or a longer telephoto lens, which tends to compress objects in an image. If her nose is long, she should be face-on to the camera, and profiles should be avoided. Tilting the chin up will make a nose look shorter. But, if her nose is wide, then a profile or three-quarter facial portrait will tend to make it look narrower. Wide nostrils can be minimized by selecting a camera angle that is a bit higher than usual. A prominent bump in a nose can be down-played by a straight-on camera angle and by avoiding side-lighting. A crooked nose should not be photographed straight-on, but rather with the head slightly turned-away or held at a tilt.

A low camera angle accentuates the legs when the model is wearing shorts or swimwear. This model's legs are particularly long, so the camera was positioned just below shoulder height.
A low camera angle accentuates the legs when the model is wearing shorts or swimwear. This model's legs are particularly long, so the camera was positioned just below shoulder height.

Any figure, even a naturally slim one, will look its best when the model is at an angle to the camera.
Any figure, even a naturally slim one, will look its best when the model is at an angle to the camera.

EYES

Many people have one eye that is lower than the other. This is perfectly normal, but when it is exaggerated, it can be made less apparent by having the subject tilt her head at a slight angle when shooting her face straight on or in three-quarter view. Having the subject raise an eyebrow over the higher eye can tend to create a more-balanced look, but also affects the girl’s expression.

A girl who narrows her eyes when looking at the camera can be asked to lower her head a bit and look up .

FOREHEAD

If a girl has a high forehead or one that seems to bulge, select a hair style that covers a part of the forehead (bangs, for instance), and don’t shoot too tight a close-up. Contouring make-up applied across the forehead, near the hairline, can also make a long forehead look shorter. Shoot a prominent forehead from a low angle. A bulging forehead will show up in profile or a three-quarter view, but will be de-emphasized in a straight-on portrait.

CHIN

A girl with a double chin should keep her jaw level, but push her chin towards the camera to elongate the neck. A narrow chin can be improved by selecting a low camera viewpoint.

CHEST

Raising the arms tends to uplift and add more shape to a bosom.


WAIST

A wide waist can be made to look more slender through posing techniques, which are covered in our posing section. Having the girl hold her hands at her side with a slight outward bend in the elbows also works by creating a space between the arms and waist. Depending on the pose, leaning back and placing the arms overhead tends to slenderize the waist. Arching the back will also help. Loose-fitting clothing can conceal a weight problem. Dark colors tend to tone down body weight. A slim girl can be seated in a curled-up posture to provide a more curvaceous appearance.

HIPS

Wide hips can appear more diminished if the girl leans towards the camera.

A model's curvaciousness can be emphasized by raising an arm so her waist line is revealed. Lowering the arm can conceal a not-so-slim waist.
A model's curvaciousness can be emphasized by raising an arm so her waist line is revealed. Lowering the arm can conceal a not-so-slim waist.

Some figures can be quite challenging to the photographer.
Some figures can be quite challenging to the photographer.

LEGS

Legs that are too thin or wide can be made to look more normal if the girl either sits on her legs or completely tucks them beneath her. Short legs can be lengthened by shooting from a low viewpoint. Pointing the toes tends to make legs look longer. A sitting girl or one who is reclining on her back can raise one or both of her legs to slim the thighs. An overall slimming effect is achieved by leaning backwards with one leg placed over the other. Sheer hose can make rough legs look smoother and cover prominent veins, bruises and marks. A swimsuit or shorts that are cut high at the thigh will make legs look longer.

FEET

Long feet can be made to seem shorter by wearing high heels. If the feet are bare, have the model rise up on her toes. If the model is seated or reclining, have her point her toes. Avoid poses where the feet are at an angle that is perpendicular to the camera.


SKIN

Skin that is overly pale can be warmed by using a coral-toned warming filter.

In black and white photography, a yellow-green filter will lighten the skin of caucasians and de-emphasize facial blemishes. This filter is particularly effective outdoors against a sky or foliage backdrop.

Facial blemishes and wrinkles can also be made less apparent by attaching a diffusion filter to the lens, which gives an overall softening effect to skin while still maintaining sharp focus.

A yellow-green filter will render proper skin tones on black and white film.
A yellow-green filter will render proper skin tones on black and white film.