A matter of perspective

Discussion in 'Portraiture' started by BetterSense, Nov 1, 2009.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I have heard that male subjects are flattered with a view from slightly lower, and female subjects are flattered by a view from slightly higher. Why is this, and do you observe this as a rule of thumb or guideline?
     
  2. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    With men, the lower perspective would lend to an air of authority with the viewer 'looking up' at them in the photograph. With women, the view from above would serve to slim them somewhat. Which would be appreciated by nearly all accept the Olsen twins.
     
  3. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I ignore this rule completely. I believe it is purely sexist at it's root.
     
  4. BobNewYork

    BobNewYork Member

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    I'm not so sure it's just flattery. For a few years I found myself doing an increasing number of specific-use commercial portraits and head shots. My rule of thumb was to ask intended use and then decide the angle. For example, a portrait of a doctor new to a practice and or marketing purposes I would use a slightly lower angle - whether for a man or a woman. This makes the presence somewhat more "commanding" and suggests competence and authority. On the other hand, if I were doing headshots for realtors, I would use a slightly higher angle because this suggests someone working for you as opposed to telling you - no-one wants an intimidating real-estate agent! Annual reports for financial advisors would require two approaches. The chief executive would need the commanding and in-control approach of the lower angle; whereas, for the day-to-day advisors and marketing people I would use a higher angle to make them appear more "approachable". The concept is similar to the executive who has his / her chair arranged higher than those of visitors. A lower camera angle suggests command and a higher camera angle suggests compliance.

    In addition, a lower angle for men often minimizes a receding hairline, (or the "forehead on steroids" as I describe my own predicament:D) This is good, of course, for male stamp collectors - where "philately will get you everywhere" ::surprised::surprised: (Really sorry guys........I just couldn't resist :D:D)

    Bob H
     
  5. BobNewYork

    BobNewYork Member

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    You're absolutely right Mark - dominating men and compliant women - I'm sure that is, indeed the root. However, I think there's a difference in approach for fine-art portraiture than there is for commercial portraiture which is, in effect a marketing tool. Personally, I applied these "rules" on the basis of intended use as opposed to gender.

    Bob H
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Another reason to use a higher angle sometimes is to minimize a flabby neck.
     
  7. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    What if they're bald and have a flabby neck? Eye level? :smile:
     
  8. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Of course it's sexist; we are discussing different ways to shoot women and men. I'm deliberately sexist; I'm not going to start treating the two different subjects exactly the same.

    Beyond the man-woman thing, though, what about view camera movement? When I take pictures of a building, if I point the camera up, i get converging lines which looks 'wrong', so instead of pointing the camera up, I use front rise, which gives an effect as if the camera was higher than it really is...I THINK the same effect could be achieved by raising the camera on a ladder or something. In portraiture, say for a full-length shot, should one put the camera at a certain height and use rise to achieve the perspective change, or raise the camera itself? Or is the effect identical?
     
  9. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    I agree completely with Bob on this one. While it's good to choose the most flattering angle for the subject, the more important factor, for me, is determining what is most effective for the mood / tone you want to set. If you were photographing a powerful CEO, you'd probably not choose to shoot downward at him, as you don't want to make him look doe-y eyed and innocent. On the other hand, if you were doing a soft, feminine portrait of a woman and shot from a downward angle, you'd be exaggerating the jaw and making the eyes look smaller, which is rarely what a female subject has in mind.

    It's not about being sexist, it's about choosing the angle that best suits the purpose of the image.

    - CJ
     
  10. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    light it from the side.
     
  11. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Ask the person to learn forward, towards you and the camera (I don't recommend using a 50mm or wider lens for this!). This reduces the size of a neck or double chin. Most people tend to shy away from the camera and automatically lean slightly backwards.
     
  12. F2_bokeh

    F2_bokeh Subscriber

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    personally, i would suggest not photographing them
     
  13. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Use a soft pencil and draw a beard on the print. Call up touching up. :wink:

    Steve
     
  14. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    For me this isn't about treating two different subjects exactly the same, it's about treating 6,794,535,660 different subjects as equals.

    The up/down thing in portraits is about conveying who's in control. It's a fashion that is going out of style and deserves to go out out of style.

    (BTW 6,794,535,660 is the approximate population of our world at the time this was written.)
     
  15. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Yeah, nothing like a good gobbler.
     
  16. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Pat them on the head and give them a banana :smile:
     
  17. nick mulder

    nick mulder Subscriber

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    The following photos were taken with the camera about 12" above ground level using a heap of rise and tilt... The subjects are looking down :wink:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  18. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    Raise the chin to avoid the flabby neck, then put the camera up a bit but at eye level, to avoid the shiny head.