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Photographing Challenging Features

Lesson 28 of 39

Full Figured Subject Considerations

Lindsay Adler

Photographing Challenging Features

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

28. Full Figured Subject Considerations

Lesson Info

Full Figured Subject Considerations

Curvy or full figured subjects, I want to put this up here by saying curvy, full figured it encompasses a bajillion different body types so I can't give you one solution and it wouldn't be appropriate to but there are certain I'll say best practice, or certain things that work quite often or certain things you shouldn't do. I actually have a class on posing curvy women and I talk a little bit about clothing and lens choice and posing so if you want to learn more about that, that does exist. Let me give you a couple do's and don't's, couple considerations and for sake of time we'll get to the key points but also know, every person you photograph will be different, you have to treat them differently. So, for posing the general, like this is the cop out answer but most of the time there's somewhat leaning chest towards camera with chin out and down. Most of the time, it depends on the subjects features but the reason is, I'm gonna say let's talk about a fuller figured woman who's wider in...

her midsection. If she stands flat footed and leans back, the midsection comes closer to the camera. So often, there's going to be a little bit of kick the hips back, lean the chest forward, chin out and down because hips and stomach are further from camera so they look more slender, chest and face are closer so they look fuller, chin out smooth out any double chin and back down to connect with camera but there are definitely curvy women that are small here and just really big chested and that's a different type of curvy. Now, if they want their big chest to look like a big chest then you just go with it but often it's more about proportion you just don't want someone to look bobble headish at that point, in the way you photograph them because they may not look like that in person but then you you know, hips back, chest forward, chin out and down and all of a sudden they have an itty bitty waist and they look like they're going to fall over but they don't look like that in person so my point is, you keep it in mind how far you push things for the individual. So in that example, for the individual that is smaller in their midsection I don't need to push the hips back all the way, but I still want them to look curvy you know, so I might do what we did before if you can bend it, bend it I might do that and I still have them put their chin out and down but I might just not lean the chest forward or I might lean the chest forward a bit but I don't also get at a higher camera angle like I just don't do all of those things. So you're kind of figuring out this curvy person, what do I want more attention to? What do I want to put attention away from? And then how do I achieve a pleasing proportion to the camera? Usually, it's not so much that the person looks like an unpleasing proportion, we choose and make mistakes with what we've chosen in our camera that exaggerates things that you wouldn't notice when you're looking at that person. So generally it's lean towards camera, chin out and down that's the general solution. Avoid mergers and what I mean by this is be careful with the way that you pose them that you don't extend what the body looks like. A really common one is that curvier women very often, and we'll talk fuller figure women, very often wear big baggy clothing. And the reason, I mean for a lot of people, is they don't want everything clinging and everything showing. The problem is, if you've got a big baggy sweater and a bigger woman, it's just a big blob like you can't, you can't actually do anything with posing. You can't, if you bring the chest forward the fabric falls forward and the lower part of the body so it didn't actually make anything bigger or smaller it just made it rounder, that make sense? It's just, it's just falling over the body so one of my tips for clothing is you don't need to go completely form fitted but make sure things aren't baggy. What I find works very often is if the woman's fuller in the midsection having them form fitted at the top of the body and then the dress flaring out here because they don't feel like it's clinging around the midsection but then you can do a little bit more posing and it's not drawing attention. So that's one of the things you want to do is take a look and do a little bit more research on how to clothe, to dress and flatter curves. There's a lot of information out there. I have some of that information but one of the sites I've recommended, a couple times there's a site called Gwynnie Bee (Speaker spells site) if you search it you'll find it, okay? It's a clothing, it's a clothing rental company and it's for fuller figured women. And they have guides on there to figure out what kind of, your body type is and what type of clothing is going to flatter. So I often will recommend people check that out or another site, Rent the Runway, rents clothing up to a size there's some dresses in size 32 but there's many dresses that are in the 20's, so if you want clothing that maybe a fuller figure woman doesn't have some of the more dress up clothing that's appropriate for your photo shoot you can also check that out. And there's a lot of DIY clothing that can flatter. Alright so, we talked about camera angle, as I said if you want to draw more attention to the face and chest and make the midsection look smaller you get up at a higher angle, if that's what's appropriate to the body type. Lens choice, okay here's one that's super counter intuitive to most people. It actually, often may be appropriate to use a wider lens choice. People go okay wait what? Okay, here's what I mean. If I use a wide angle, a wider angle lens really close to a woman, really close to her face it's gonna make her face look wide but, one of the tips I said is if you use a wider focal length, this exaggerates distances. If I have a woman kick her hips back, lean her chest towards camera if I want her hips and her stomach to look smaller I want them to be even further away from camera so a wider angle lens exaggerates distance so slightly wider will make the hips and waist look further and therefore smaller. So you're actually using perspective in that case. So, it seems counter intuitive you just gotta watch out for the distortion on the edges but I do it all the time where I will be maybe shooting at 50 millimeters, higher up for portrait or maybe 35 and then I have them lean but when they do that if you shoot the same person with 70 millimeters where they're leaning compared to it's a huge difference, it's gonna really exaggerate your camera angle and the lean that you chose. So, kinda counter intuitive but it actually works really well. Lighting There's no right or wrong answer but you can move the light off to the side a little bit to cast more shadow, when you cast more shadow it may slenderize in some ways. I, it doesn't mean that they should fall to shadow across you know, don't split light like that's not what I'm telling you to do but for a lot of my curvier subjects, I don't like them completely flat on I want a little bit of sculpting, I want a little bit of shape so it's not making them look as wide in the face and the body. Let's see. Okay, so if you're doing a high key shot, I love this one we're not demoing this here but just something for you to think about. Let's say that you're photographing a curvy woman in lingerie and then maybe there's just like a couple, you're posing and there's a couple rolls or problem areas that like you just know they're not gonna like but it's there and you don't want 'em to necessarily see it but you know you can retouch it whatever, my solution is if you're photographing in high key like on a white background, what I'll do is I'll actually blow the background out so you get that look where it's glowy, right, like where it glows around but what actually happens is it over exposes the edges on lighter skin tones and it cuts in so it's actually narrowing the person because the light is narrowing them. So, if you ever shoot, if you're ever shooting a high key glowing lingerie shadow of a curvy woman try blowing out the background, super helpful. Let's see, retouching I'll liquefy in Photoshop but I don't liquefy to make them look smaller, I liquefy to get rid of problem areas like a roll that I know they won't like or a bulge, not just to say here you're narrower like that, that's not the point. I'm cleaning up lines or I'm making the waist more defined and I'll be able to show you this, it's carefully doing it in certain places so they still look like them, it's still their body type just smoother, just cleaned up and I'll show you that and I also do contouring, I'll show you some contouring. Avoiding baggy clothing and then when you are planning, if somebody is planning your clothing, if somebody is wider something that you might do is use like longer necklaces, right, it gets the eye to travel from top to bottom on the body but then maybe avoiding horizontal lines on the clothing which encourages the eye to go side to side, so you might actually benefit you to look a little bit into how clothing affects how the body looks. Something I do as well, is let's say someone's fuller here and your eye is going to their midsection, sometimes big hair and the wind blowing in the hair it even things out 'cause in the top of the frame is as big as the bottom of the frame and so your eye isn't drawn here. Like there's a lot of these little tips and tricks.

Class Description

Photographers are tasked with flattering every subject that steps in front of their lens. Typically, those subjects are everyday people, not professional models. This can mean working with some challenging features along with varying degrees of confidence. Canon Explorer of Light and well-known fashion photographer Lindsay Adler walks through understanding the face and body as well as the photographic tools available to you make your clients best side shine. These features could range from a pronounced nose, large forehead, glasses, asymmetrical features, or defined wrinkles. In this course Lindsay will walk you through: 

  • How to analyze a face and draw attention to the strengths within it 
  • Posing and lighting techniques for challenging facial features 
  • Posing and lighting techniques for the skin and body 
  • Retouching tips for skin, glasses or discolored teeth 
This course will cover many challenging features and show you how posing, camera angles, lens choice and lighting can work together to help you have confidence in every shoot.


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