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Analyzing the Face

Lesson 2 from: Photographing Challenging Features

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

2. Analyzing the Face

Next Lesson: Light and Skin

Lesson Info

Analyzing the Face

What I thought I would start off with was a little bit of analyzing somebody's face. A little bit about what you're looking at as you're studying somebody, what makes somebody more traditionally, have more traditional standards of beauty or things that you might start saying, okay with these features, I'll light this way or this way like just a couple of things that I'm thinking about. So this is a woman that I photographed in New York recently and I actually photographed her as part of my book on posing so my book on posing will be shipping out in the next couple of weeks like it's done, next couple of weeks you guys will start to get it. So I photographed her and one of the reasons why I put this in there is because posing the face is something people don't think about posing but man, if people don't like their face, they don't care about how the rest of the body looks like it doesn't matter, it's all about that connection with camera and their features. So I wanna talks about briefl...

y the concept of, what is somebody's good side? What is someone's better side? And as you look at her here, when I look at her, I mean I don't know if either of you, or if any of you feel compelled, like what side of her face you like better? I love her straight on, like she looks fine. One of the things we consider to be beautiful in general is symmetry, just in general it's one of those things that we find appealing and that's why if you look at a lot of magazines, the front cover, they have like a supermodel and they're straight on towards camera 'cause like, it's super rare. We average people do not have symmetrical faces like it's just not a thing that regularly occurs. One of the reasons that we like, or that, we like asymmetry less even though we all have it is when I look at you, I'm not looking at you and going, oh yeah now that side's super, but in a still frame, you're looking right at it and if someone's straight on, you're comparing left right, left right and your brain is actually trained to find breaks in patterns, that's part of how our brains are wired. So when somebody is straight onto a camera, flat lit and it's still front, you're lookin' and you see those asymmetries. So if you look at her, I mean she is actually asymmetrical you can see that it's not completely even but it's not, it's not problematic, it's not anything exaggerated but let's look back again at this, what is the better side of the face? So I'm going to show your briefly a list of some of the things that you can kinda take a look at to figure out which side is better. So one of the first things is a general rule of thumb is that people generally part their hair on the side of the face that they prefer. Think of it this way, if I part my hair all this way, okay, and I cover this side of the face, I'm saying, look here. (audience laughs) Right, they do it subconsciously but just in general that tends to be true however and I don't, is my hair crazy now? (audience laughs) Okay, who knows, but in general that might be true but I switch my part so clearly that not something you can rely on all the time so put that one on there as a possibility. The next one on the list is if they have either a more defined jawline or brow bone. If you look at most people, and we'll take a look at her here, let me flip back real quick, Okay we're gonna look at her here, comparing these two sides of the face so here's a point for this side, she's got her hair parted on that side of the face so she gets one point for the left hand side. Alright let's take a look at the right hand side and compare. If you look at her jawline, okay, look at the angle of it and the crispness of it, do you see how the right one is actually more crisp? So she has a jawline that's more defined on one side of the face than the other so that's actually point for the right side of her face. But if you look, comparing her brow bone, her brow is actually elevated more on the right hand side, usually people prefer that a little bit better. Okay so the next one on the list is, I say this jokingly but kinda serious, their selfie side. And the reason I say this is everyone's taking selfies of themselves all the time, I mean not everyone but most people, okay. And when people are doing it, they've looked a bajillion times at what side of the face they prefer and so I actually, it's not like I rely on this but I will take note if somebody is taking a selfie, maybe when they're getting their hair and make-up done, if I see them doing something like this, that's telling me, that's my message, this is the side they like. They've looked at it a lot more than I have and a lot of times people are paying attention to things that I don't even notice, but it's an issue with them. So don't rely on it, but it's something to consider. Next one would be a larger eye or a less droopy eye. Most of the time, like if the eyes are uneven, one might be a little bit droopier or the eyelid a little lower which people like less, they like when their eye's a little bit fuller, a little more upturned, the eyelid a little bit raised. And then related to that, is this last part whatever side of the face has more upturned features so typically if you look at someone straight on there's usually like one side where the mouth is turned up a little bit more or the eye is turned up a little bit more. So let's just take a look at her real quick. When I look back at her original photo, the left hand side of her face is turned up more, just a little bit, right, can you see that? The lip turned up a little bit more? But I just went through all these things and do you see how it's like, we're splittin'? Like half is on the left, half of it is on the right so it's like, my point of this is I took you through this whole exercise of how to figure out the best side of a person's face but sometimes it's, you don't know, like sometimes it just depends on their preference and so I asked her, I actually don't have a problem saying, oh by the way is there, I do this, I say, clearly both sides of your face are gorgeous however do, are you aware of one that you like better? I don't rely on it 'cause sometimes people don't know what they're talkin' about but just in case. But she is an aspiring model and so she told me, which side do you think she picked? She chose this side, yeah, 'cause she chose the right hand side of the face because she liked her more raised brow bone and she liked her more defined jawline. So my message to you is those are all the things you can choose from, but you can't necessarily always make that decision which if you have to make a snap choice, you've got a second to photograph someone, it's very short, those are some of the things you can look at. One other interesting thing, I was reading some studies that people, in general, they asked hundreds of people what side of the face do you prefer, your own face? And by far a majority of people said their left side. Which is what she said in this instance, I'm just thought that was interesting, I'm not saying you should rely on it. Like I was looking in the mirror for me, which actually I think is an exercise that maybe don't do (laughs) (audience laughs) Like it's not even, not like the, staring (mumbles) crap, but I actually, I think I like right better but I don't know so my point is, see what you can do to analyze the best as possible so that's kinda your checklist of what you can do. Alright, next thing. A lot of people have a specific angle of the face that it's going to work better and generally you have this kinda grid roughly of nine. So it would be someone who's straight on, with their chin up or down, and I exaggerated these a little bit so you can get the point but it might just be up or down so again, straight on, up or down, it's not like it needs to be dramatic or it could be turning towards their left, chin up a little bit, or chin down a little bit, and of course to their right, chin up and chin down. So like those are the positions. Sometimes what I'll do when I'm first photographing somebody is, I'll be like oh I just need to test my lights I want to see how the light looks when I pose you in different way and I will just kinda try it, be like can you do me a favor, can you turn your chin over to the right? Good okay just a little? I'm just lookin' you know what I might snap a few frames okay let me just, I'm just checkin' I wanna see how the light looks, and I just kinda flip through, I don't have a problem with that like we have digital cameras, it's like the chimping part the constantly looking for me is bad once you start the shoot because it breaks up the flow, it breaks up the connection and it looks like you're checkin' to see what's wrong but if I blame it on, hey I'm just gettin' set up, I have no problem with that, I do that in my shoots all the time and in fashion photography we shoot tethered, it's into a computer so I mean I can go over and just put up a grid, I don't do this whole thing turn ah ah ah, it's not like I take them through nine but just something you might consider doing and maybe you do it as practice with a friend or somebody that you know just to kinda get the flow of seeing these different angles. Okay here's some things we're going to talk about today. In these different photos, different parts of her face are emphasized. You're looking at different things. So one of the rules that you've heard me probably say is whatever's closest to the camera appears larger and whatever's further appears smaller. So if you look at this, when she for example puts her chin down, it's bringing her eyes a little bit closer towards camera, it's going to make them look a little bit, a little bit in this case, a little bit larger. For her, if I'm specifically talking about her, she has a relatively broad jawline, like I'm not saying it's bad she just has a pretty defined, wider jaw. So when she turns to the side and raises her chin up, she's bringing her jaw closer to the camera, let's say it's here and so if you notice, look at her chin and her jaw in the top row, do you see how the jawline looks bigger and her jaw looks wider and it's, her chin looks bigger? All of these I was shooting on a tripod so I'm at the same angle, but then when she raises it up, the chin and the jawline are closer. What this means for you is maybe there is somebody with a really big jawline, like a very large chin. You're not gonna want to have them raise their chin up 'cause when they do so it's sticking it straight towards the camera. In that case, you may want them to actually stick their chin out and then down a little bit further, a little bit further away from camera. So one of them, one of these things has to do with the head position. For her personally, I like the center and the bottom, I like the bottom left and I don't mind the bottom middle. I mean the bottom middle, the left middle. So ready it's easier to say one, two, three. Like these are my favorite ones for her personally. Here, too much jawline on the top and I think in the bottom a little bit too much forehead, yeah something like that. So these are some of your considerations. Now this all had to do with her head movement right? But if her head stays the same, you can also achieve changes in how her face looks by your camera position. So in the example in the bottom middle, okay? That bottom middle shot, it looks like she brought her chin down but you can get something similar with how you change the look of her face if you just raise your camera angle, 'cause by bringing her chin down, she brings her forehead closer or if I get a higher camera angle, now the forehead is closer. So I have also noticed as I photographed people that people really truly have the strangest like conceptions about themselves. Like really really weird. I did a shoot like this before a class like this before where I was, I had people submitting for challenging features or problem areas and the things people said were problematic or abnormal were like the weirdest things. Like there, and it was generally it was like, the woman in her early 20s, looks like a supermodel and she's like oh I'm too wrinkled, I have a big nose, my eyes are droopy and you're looking at her and you're like... (audience laughs) But the reason I'm saying this is if somebody has something they really don't like, I'm always trying to encourage positivity, but if there's something they hate, they let you know like you know, people just do this, especially if they're really picky, they usually tell you. I don't want, I'm not encouraging them to but it comes out so someone might say like, you know, like oh my nose looks too big or like make sure you don't get my double chin, they'll let you know about it but part of this is the atmosphere of how you photograph people, so I'm, I'm going to eventually post this on my social media, it'll be soon, I'm gonna do a book club, like photo book club, it's not just photo tutorials it's just books that I have found either, I found useful in my business or books that I want to read because I think they would help inspire me, some of them will be other photographers, some of them will be business, some of them are going to be art related and so I'll do like a book a month and we'll all just talk about it and be friendly and one of them I'm going to do is a book I talk about all the time, it's How to Win Friends and Influence People and it's like, it was written in like the 30s I think and it's still a hundred percent relevant and one of the things that the author recommends is that you pay compliments but you do so genuinely and so what I do is if somebody does tell me something that I don't like and I'm like I know, I kinda laugh it of, I'm like oh don't worry we're gonna make you look stunning, but clearly, this isn't really a problem but don't worry it's gonna look great, but then later on so that I can help build up their confidence, I genuinely compliment something that I like. So look at them and what is it, is your photograph and think what is it that you are actually drawn to? And I, like I love your glasses, I love your eyes, you know, like that's a beautiful expression, your lips look great but I try, try to be try to be more in the moment and less, not too anatomical. Okay, I'll just be like oh I love that expression, that's a great connection, your eyes look great, not like oh man that body's rockin' like not that kinda thing. (audience laughing) Okay so I pay compliments and I, I mean if it's a great atmosphere sometimes that joke like sometimes that's appropriate, most of the time it's not.

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Ratings and Reviews

Sharma Shari

This class was amazing! It was great seeing a demo class with real people. As a wedding photographer that specializes in offbeat/non traditional couples, it is always good to see how I can enhance all my clients beautiful features, and make them feel their best and confident when I am taking their photos!

a Creativelive Student

I was so excited to get the chance to learn from Lindsay live, and this course did not disappoint! The techniques she shared were insightful and straightforward. I felt like seeing them on different subjects throughout the day really helped to cement the concepts and grow my photography tools to bring out the best in those I'm photographing. I'm not a studio photographer, but the ideas apply in natural light as well.

maria manolaros

Great class! Impressive amount of tips on posing, lighting and photoshop techniques , a real good no nonsense approach by superb teacher. Numerous amounts of thumbs ups

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