Do you know your best side? And do you know how light can work to flatter your face?
A lot of photographers find it challenging to figure out the best sides and angles for their clients, which is one of the reasons headshot photography is so challenging.
If you knew your best side and could explain to your photographer right off the bat which angles you like the best and where the light should be positioned to look more flattering for you, you’d save time and start getting great shots right away!
Too many people waste the first hour of their shoot with inexperienced photographers by trying to figure out what angles and expressions look best, and by the time they start capturing their best stuff, the shoot is over.
So How Do You Find Your Best Side?
90% of people look better on one side than the other. Why? Because our faces are not perfectly even. If we were to take a photo of someone and cut it in half and flip it over so both sides match perfectly, the photo would look really weird.
Take a look at the two photos below:
As you can see, people look more normal when their faces are not entirely symmetrical.
This calls into question whether we want the lighting to be coming perfectly from the center and whether we want our face directly straight forward into the camera, or tilted or turned one way of the other. What looks best and how can find tell?
The easiest way to find your best side is to use a simple point system for now, until you start to get the knack for why one angle or the other looks better for your face and you can tell just by looking at yourself.
Let’s assign a numerical value to each facial feature so we can figure out which side is your best. Follow the steps below, looking at yourself in a mirror while doing it:
Remember that in the end it all comes down to personal preference. If you think you prefer a side opposite to what the point system suggests, you can ask the photographer to do a test shot of you facing each direction and take a look and see which image you like best. The steps above are just a simple starting point and only work correctly about 70% of the time.
How to Find the Best Lighting for Your Face
Once you know your best side, the photographer should position the key light so that your nose is pointing towards it. Essentially you want your face pointing towards the brightest light source, not away from it for the beginning few test shots. If you’re pointing away from the brightest light, it can sometimes make your face look fatter or cause parts of your face to be obscured by shadow, which definitely won’t work for a headshot.
After the photographer gets the lighting set up, you should ask to see the photo so you can get an idea of where the light is coming from and what it’s doing to the shape of your face. There are a few fixes we will discuss below that can help your face look better on-camera if you remember to try them during your shoot:
Remember, when you’re shooting outside, sometimes it’s not possible to make all these technical lighting adjustments. However, if your photographer is technically proficient, you should be able to tell them what you’re not liking and the two of you can come up with a creative solution to it, such as turning to one angle or another so the light falls across your face a certain way. They can also try using a reflector from below to create that “clamshell” lighting effect we spoke about earlier to slim the face. Have fun with it and try not to be too hard on yourself!
Remember, customizing the lighting for your face is something most other people won’t notice in your headshot... You will probably be the only one who really cares how wide or thin your face looks. So don’t stress too much if you can’t get it looking perfect; your expression is much more important.
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