My marketing manager, part-time photo assistant and wife wanted to write a blog…so here she is.
Often I get to assist Andy on executive portrait shoots. I get to carry equipment (especially when the client is located in a high rise building!), to help set-up the portable studio and provide a second set of eyes that can catch distractions such an off-center tie.
When Andy is your photographer, he will direct you into various poses so that you will get an attractive portrait. For the most part you don’t have to worry about anything…still there are a couple of points you may want to consider in advance and a couple of points that will help you understand why Andy may want to adjust the lighting or have you turn a different way.
These are general rules and don’t apply 100% of the time — there are instances where you may get a better photo by following what works best for you. We took a series of pictures to help demonstrate a few of the points listed below.
We’ll start with a basic pose. Generally you don’t want to stand straight facing the camera, rather you want your feet and shoulders at about 45% angle and then to turn your face toward the camera. This helps most people look thinner and for women helps the shoulders not look so broad. You’ll also want to place most of your weight on your back foot — it may feel a little bit odd but helps to off-set the shoulders ever so slightly.
Long sleeves look best. For executive portraits most people will wear a jacket and don’t have to worry about how their arms look. Assuming the jacket fits properly, the photos usually look best when the jacket is buttoned. Even if the portrait is to convey a less formal look, it is generally best to go with long sleeves. Women who may have a sheath dress or cap sleeves may want to reconsider their clothing options. Also is is good to have something to rest your hands on, so your arms don’t lay flat at your side. We almost always have people rest their hands on the back of a chair or on a table, this helps with a more relaxed look.
Color choices are also important, black is generally the most slimming color. If you prefer light clothing then it is often best to not have a dark background. For men, don’t hesitate to bring a couple of ties…maybe a more formal one and then the soft or bright tie that you get all those compliments on.
One of my main concerns is my double chin. There are several poses that I’ve read about in posing books and when I tried to hold these poses I felt very awkward and the photos turned out comical. Andy can help minimize the look we don’t want. In the series below, one was taken at a normal camera height and the other from a raised angle. (There was no post processing on the double chin issue in this series…the change is strictly based on the camera angle/pose.)
The main thing is put a little thought into your clothes, what you want and then to relax. If you have any issues that you are concerned about — please let Andy know up-front. I’ve heard people tell Andy all these things during their shoots:
- Don’t do too much post processing, I’m proud of my wrinkles/mole
- Do a lot of post processing, I don’t want to see my crows feet/mole/scar
- I have a better right/left side
- I will be wearing glasses or I want photos with and without glasses
- Concerns about thinning hair, double chins, weight — some things can be minimized during the shoot and others during post processing
There are many ways to enhance a portrait by slightly changing the lights, camera angles or adjusting clothing. While issues can be addressed with post processing — you’ll get the best results if areas of concern are addressed during the shoot. I don’t like getting my picture taken and tense up, so I know it’s hard — but the most important thing is to relax and to smile.