Portrait - Scale and Setting

In portraits even the slightest difference in poses or cropping has an effect on how the image and subject comes across. It takes a lot of practice to know what a subject should do and how to instruct the person when it comes to putting it in the position with the desired effect. I've looked at a lot of different images, mainly online. Here are a few that interested me most. Composition and depth of field are very defining. Let's start with the ones with a tight framing on the face: This site shows a lot of different poses with a tight frame. I like how the photographer explains how he made the images (they're actually made in Maya) and doesn't know which one he likes best. It's understandable, especially since all images have such a different feel to them. Then there are a few images in which the person looks straight in the camera and lit from the front. I like this approach, it's very confronting, but wouldn't necessarily call it flattering for the model. Here are a few of my attempts. They're all processed a bit differently, because I'm practicing my developing skills in Lightroom and Photoshop at the same time.

What I notice most is that the personality or mood of the subject is just as much affected by the angle by which the image is taken as the gaze of the subject and softness of the mouth. When the subject looks straight in the camera, the viewer is more involved and personally directed inwards the picture, while with the images where the subject is looking down or in an other direction, there's a more mysterious mood.

Here are the ones that show the face and the shoulders. As the reader already notices, the way the shoulders are positioned effects how much one is drawn into the image, but also how the subject is portrayed, formal, or more relaxed. 

It's not just the position of the shoulders, the way the head is tilted makes a huge difference in the image as well. My model wasn't very motivated anymore when I took the last image, but as you can see, tilting the face forward makes the image more engaging and even somewhat threatening. I also like how the first image is a bit more interesting because there's more negative space on the right side and the rules of thirds are working. 

Lots of different images with head, shoulders and arms. The background starts to play a different role as well, since it's impossible to crop it out. What I notice is that it's important to have the face leaned forwards in order to keep the focus on the eyes instead of the torso and hands. I chose this background because it's simple, but does have a few leading lines that can lead the eyes of the viewer to the subject.  Depth of field plays a part in these image as well. Even though in the bottom image on the left the arm and elbow fill in a big chunk of the image, because it's not sharp the eye is still drawn to the face of the subject. I don't think it's necessarily nice though. The images at the top of the stairs show how when cropping below the waistline, the face becomes less the first thing a person looks at, maybe even more with a blocked shirt the model is wearing. Then it becomes even more important to tilt the face and shoulders a bit forward to keep the image more engaging.

I couldn't get my model to stand up and he was a bit conscious of his toes and you can see he's getting a bit fed up with the modeling! But looking at these images it's still interesting to notice the difference in feelings both poses bring about. Even though the body is straight towards the camera, if the gaze is going somewhere else, there's more disengagement with the subject than compared with the one where the subject is turned away from the camera, but looking into the lens. 

So here are my favorite four: 

The first image has a sense of distance and isolation to it because the subject is looking downwards and it's hard to read what's on the subjects mind. The viewer is still immediately drawn to the eyes and from there on to the mouth that does reveal the mood of the subject more.

The second image has a very sympathetic feel to it, the subject is turned towards the camera and looking straight in the lens. Because there's not a defined background the viewer is drawn straight to the subjects eyes and from there to his mouth and shoulders.  because of the position of the subject there's a bit of a distance between the viewer and subject, giving it a more formal feel than the next one.

In the third image the viewer immediately feels connected with the subject. The subject is leaning forward, smiling and tilts the head a little bit, which gives it a more engaging feel. 

The fourth image has a sense of distance again. Maybe because the subject is looking upward, has his hands hidden and doesn't tilt his face where his eyes are going.