You have a great looking girl and you have a camera. What more do you need? Unfortunately you need much more.
Actually there have been more books written about “How to Photograph Girls” than any other photographic texts. What’s more, photographers have been snapping girls since we first managed to record blurry images on Daguerre’s sensitized glass plates.
However, unless you are careful, you will end up with shots that are far from glamorous, and are disappointing for both the subject and the cameraman. The answer lies in following some simple rules which will make your lady look glam, so much so that you will want enlargements of the very ‘professional’ result.
Let’s start with the basic pose. The first rule with all amateur models is to get your subject to relax. (Note I refer in this article to amateur models. Professional ones know which poses to adopt, and which poses make them look the best. That is why professional models are expensive! Make that ‘very’ expensive!)
Now, if your favorite lady is standing rigidly to attention in front of the camera, I can guarantee that the end result will not be pleasing. When photographing Thai people in particular, it is even more important to get them relaxed and happy, as they tend to “stand to attention” with arms held straight at their sides, looking as if they are on army parade. The other favorite position is to place thumb and forefinger under the chin, which does not look glamorous, but rather looks faintly ridiculous, and I don’t know why they all do it.
I have found that it helps to have an album of different poses cut from magazines, adverts, etc., and show them to your subject. When the sitter knows what “look” you are trying to achieve, it makes it easier all round.
The pose to avoid at all costs is the subject straight on to the camera. This is unfortunately the commonest pose – but it is the worst as far as looking attractive is concerned.
Here’s what to do to get over this problem. Simply sit your lady in a chair, and then turn it 45 degrees away from the straight ahead position. Now ask her to slowly turn her head and look at the end of your camera’s lens. Now you look through your viewfinder – see? It looks better already, doesn’t it!
Now ask her to gently raise the shoulder closest to the camera and smile. Guess what? You are starting to get a glamorous image.
Now get her to slightly bend the neck to move her chin down towards the body, so that she has to look slightly upwards with her eyes at the camera. This makes the eyes look large and enticing.
That basic pose can be modified by turning to the left as well as to the right, shoulders up or down, open mouthed smile or shy grin. Each shot will have a different look.
For these sorts of portraits you do need to make the subject’s head fill the viewfinder. Keep the top of the hair just inside the top edge of the viewing area and the lower edge should just keep the shoulders in the frame. In other words, walk in close. The best lens for this is around 135 mm, if you have a choice. This focal length is even known as a ‘portrait’ lens.
Lighting is the next important factor in producing that romantic glamor portrait. The trick here is to use gentle, soft lighting to avoid harsh and unflattering shadows. One super little trick to take shadows away from under the chin, nose and eyes is to open out a newspaper and place it in the sitter’s lap. The reflected light will gently lessen the dark shadows, but is not seen in the final shot.
Another trick used by the professional glamour photographers is to “back light” the subject and then reflect light back into the face with gold foil reflectors. The gold imparts a very “warm” and flattering color to the skin. The reflector will also be picked up as small highlights in the eyes, which gives sparkle and an “alive” feeling to the portrait.