Chuck Gardner's Photography Class
Part Two B - Facial Angles
by Chuck Gardner
Facial Angles

The angles of the human face and body people consider visually pleasing are universal regardless of the medium. Movie directors and cinematographers are masters of lighting and facial angles which make the human face appear natural and three dimensional. They in learned the techniques from the poses and lighting used in paintings by master artists. A knowledgeable photographer can use these same "classic" facial views and poses to great advantage, even in candid situations, to improve the appearance of people they photograph.


Unfortunately the only people who look really good full face are those blessed with perfectly symmetrical narrow faces. Like the ones who make their living as models and beg the question, "Is it possible for a fashion photographer to take a bad picture of a super model regardless of what camera, pose, or lighting he uses?"

The full-face angle will tend to make round faces wider, and make an make any unsymmetrical features such as a crooked nose or uneven ears very apparent. The full-front angle is often perceived as more masculine, but that perception is actually due more to the position of the head relative to the shoulders rather than the facial angle. This is covered below under posing.

The rule of thumb (actually the rule of ears) for posing a person full face is to make sure both ears, if in the picture, are the same size, or would be if not covered by hair. Using the "rule of ears" as a mental checklist ensures the subject is shot full face and not at an odd angle resulting in an unnatural appearance.

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