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  1. #1
    BetterSense's Avatar
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    A matter of perspective

    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?
    f/22 and be there.

  2. #2
    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
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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.
    Thank you.
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  3. #3
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    I ignore this rule completely. I believe it is purely sexist at it's root.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  4. #4

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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) This is good, of course, for male stamp collectors - where "philately will get you everywhere" ::o:o (Really sorry guys........I just couldn't resist )

    Bob H
    "Why is there always a better way?"

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post
    I ignore this rule completely. I believe it is purely sexist at it's root.
    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
    "Why is there always a better way?"

  6. #6
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Another reason to use a higher angle sometimes is to minimize a flabby neck.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb View Post
    Another reason to use a higher angle sometimes is to minimize a flabby neck.
    What if they're bald and have a flabby neck? Eye level?

  8. #8
    BetterSense's Avatar
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    I ignore this rule completely. I believe it is purely sexist at it's root.
    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?
    f/22 and be there.

  9. #9
    Cheryl Jacobs's Avatar
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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. #10
    JBrunner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldie View Post
    What if they're bald and have a flabby neck? Eye level?
    light it from the side.

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