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Thread: Shooting short, large and puffy people?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Rawfa's Avatar
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    Shooting short, large and puffy people?

    Hi guys,

    Im not sure is this is the correct sub-forum to be posting this, so mods feel free to move it.

    Im supposed to photograph this actor who is short, a bit overweight, has a bit of chin flab and has big bags under his eyes. Ive shot him before and even though he was thrilled with the results I was not pleased at all (Rafael Lopes - Fotografia & Vdeo - Rio de Janeiro). He now needs me to shoot him doing a monolog so Ive offered to photograph him again. The thing is that the tricks to fix one bad characteristic enhances the other.

    - Weight - better posture, try not to get too many full body shots (though I WILL have to get some)
    - Height - shoot him from lower angles and try not to put him next to any objects that may server as height comparison. Few full body shots
    - Bags under his eyes - better facial posture, shoot him from higher angles and use a light fill flash
    - Chin flab - better facial posture, shoot from higher angles

    As you guys can see some of the solutions for one problem may enhance others.

    Any tips?

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    Re: Shooting short, large and puffy people?

    Are you absolutely sure he wants you to make him appear thinner, taller, brighter-eyed and with just the one chin?
    Most of the really great actors have multiple ugly characteristics ... they are assets, not liabilities.
    (If he's selling suits, watches or yoghurt ignore what I just said)
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    Senior Member Rawfa's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting short, large and puffy people?

    Im not sure, but for future experiences lets say he does want it. What would your tips be?

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    Re: Shooting short, large and puffy people?

    Sometimes you can use background attributes to divert attention.

    For example, you may divert attention from a double chin by adding a small highlight at a higher level (in the background, not on the face).

    Selective makeup can minimize undesired facial features.
    For example, add a very subtle highlight in the fold between the double chins to cancel any shadow.

    - Leigh

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    Re: Shooting short, large and puffy people?

    Problem with shooting up at someone to accentuate height is that is also accentuates weight. I would use objects around him to trick the eye into assuming that he is taller than he is. That or just don't shoot full length.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: Shooting short, large and puffy people?

    I've had to do a number of this sort of portrait work mostly for corporations which had all sorts of facial and body types not to mention various wedding portraits of every facial and body type by the boat-load.

    While each subject is different, I've learned a few things that have helped.

    Don't assume one focal length will work for all people, or at all times/angles with one individual. The so called "portrait focal length" isn't always the best choice. Going slightly wider with the proper shooting angle has a slimming effect. Longer lenses can serve to enhance the overly thin face, and so on.

    While most photographers shoot DSLRs at eye level while standing up, experiment with shooting at waist level. Many iconic portraits were shot with waist level finder cameras, and the effect is different.

    Rather than looking for the flaws in the subject, look for their best feature(s) and work with that.

    The angle of the subject to the camera has a profound effect on weight perceptions. Depending on body type, 3/4 verses straight on for example.

    If I have the time with the subject, I start with torso lengthening stretches I learned from a professional ballet dancer/teacher. Almost ALL people have poor posture which makes them shorter than they actually are. Using what she taught me I added 1.5" to my own measured height but more importantly I looked even taller.

    Tear sheets of potential poses can be great visual aids when working with a subject. Showing them rather than telling them can be a big difference.

    Lighting is the secret tool be it reflectors or strobes. Fill light from below can easily mitigate neck/chin issues if used with moderation.

    - Marc
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    Re: Shooting short, large and puffy people?

    Many thanks for all the tips!

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