Photographing couples can be great fun. It can also be a great big pain, especially when you are faced with a couple that have a pretty drastic height difference between them. The common tactic is to simply hunch the taller person over to match the height of the other. It’s not a very flatting look, and doesn’t really make for great photos, but it’s just a natural reaction.
Peter Hurley’s approach is a simple one. “Spread ’em”. The problem with having the taller person simply lean down is that it brings the shoulders forward, it shortens the neck, and just looks plain uncomfortable. Spreading the legs allows your subject to lower their height, while still keeping their torso and neck elongated and their head held high.
While it may look a little silly out of frame, nobody’s going to see it in the photographs. You have to admit, the results certainly look better than this. It’s more flattering for the taller subject, and doesn’t seem condescending to the shorter one.
Whereas taller adults tend to automatically lean over to become level with shorter companions in photographs, I have noticed that some children often seem to instinctively “spread ’em”, when around younger, smaller children in a photograph. Funny how our thinking changes as we get older. But, regardless of age, or even gender, it’s a great technique to even out your subjects a little.
Spreading ’em can even work for photographers, too. Some of us may be much taller than our subjects, and spreading our legs to get lower is going to be much easier on our back then trying to hunch down for the whole session. You might want to practise to increase your balance and stability a little, though.
What do you think of Peter’s technique? Do you have a different method you use for photographing people of different heights? Let us know, and show some examples of your techniques in the comments.