How to turn your male subjects from doofy to dapper in three simple steps

Sep 5, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

How to turn your male subjects from doofy to dapper in three simple steps

Sep 5, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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We often hear that “lighting is everything”, and to a point it is. But when it comes to portraits, so is the posing of your subject. It doesn’t matter how great your light is. If the pose isn’t flattering, your subject’s not going to look great.

In this minute long photography tips video from the guys at SLR Lounge, we see how directing our subject gives a very different look. Nothing has changed with the camera or the lighting. It’s all about the mood and the pose. And it’s just three simple steps that can be done in a few seconds.

YouTube video

For a model, this kind of pose is an every day thing. This is why it’s so popular, because it works. For regular normal people, you just need to give them a little direction.

1. Extend the neck

The first step is to have your subject extend their neck forward slightly. This helps to stretch and smoothen the skin under the jaw and on the neck. It also helps to create some separation, as it will cast a more pleasing shadow on your subject’s neck.

You don’t want them to go too far forward, though. You don’t want your subject to “turtle”.

2. Utilise short lighting

Turning your subject’s face towards the light puts the broad side of the cheek in shadow, adding more depth. It also allows that backlight on the left of the subject to create a nice specular highlight along the neck and jawline.

3. Adjust the chin up or down

This step is largely going to boil down to a combination of personal taste and your subject’s height & build. Exactly where the lights are placed will also play a factor, depending on the look you’re after in those specular highlights.

But, that’s it. Looking at the before and after, there’s a clear and noticeable difference between the two. And remember, the lighting and camera settings haven’t changed at all.

So, there you go. From Borat to Bond in three simple steps.

[SLR Lounge via ISO1200]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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One response to “How to turn your male subjects from doofy to dapper in three simple steps”

  1. Margaritas Ante Porcos Avatar
    Margaritas Ante Porcos

    How to make a how-to video:
    1. make an intentionally terrible portrait.
    2, make a normal portrait.
    3. compare them.