Project: Types of Portrait Framing

Exercise: Portrait – Scale and Setting

Begin with a tight framing on the face in which at least part of the outline of the head is cropped by the frame.  Pull back for the second framing where this should include the head and shoulders in view.  Pull back again for the third framing that includes the torso.  You have to decide whether or not to crop above or below the waistline and also what to do with the subjects hands.  The final framing should be pulled all the way back for a full-length image and you will need to decide whether the subject is sitting or standing.

Image 1: Cropped Head

Image 1: Cropped Head

Image 2: Head & Shoulders

Image 2: Head & Shoulders

Image 3: Torso Cropped Below Waist

Image 3: Torso Cropped Below Waist

Image 4: Full-Length

Image 4: Full-Length

With this series of images, I wanted to them appear as natural as possible, and with that in mind I attempted to reduce the amount of direction I gave to Ann to reduce the stress this photo’ session placed upon her and so that she adopted a body posture she felt comfortable with and was a natural stance for her.  In fact the only direction I had to give was where she stood, for the background, and where she looked, facial expression I also left to her.

The head shot is Ann’s least favourite image, possibly so for all mature ladies as it makes the viewer well aware of the passage of time on the  soft tissue of the face.  The eyes are still bright and clear and the catch-lights show her deep, bluey-green eyes up well.  Using a very wide aperture has reduced the depth of field to almost a slice and the soft-focus is beginning to show very quickly beyond the plane of the right eye.

The head and shoulders image Ann is more pleased with.  The fact that she has a partial smile helps she thinks and the fact the camera is now further away reduces the awareness of the passage of time.  The eyes are still dominant and along with the partial smile the eyes have slightly crinkled giving a warmer expression.  The background is now somewhat in focus although the aperture has remained the same as Image 1: at f/1.8 and along with the pattern on the top Ann is wearing makes the eye move around the picture more.

The torso shot needed to be cropped below the waist to fully include the arms and hands which would have made the image appear unfinished had I cropped higher.  The eyes still create the centre of focus but are nowhere near as dominant as in Image 1: and Image 2:  The colours of the T-shirt now start to come into their own, bringing the eye away from the face and the shape of the arms also add a studied casualness.  The right shoulder has dropped slightly and the slight cant of the head to the left introduces the element of humour lurking in the relationship between us as the image is made.

The final full-length image is a another take on the second and third although now Ann has a slightly imperious look as she’s getting bored with the whole exercise.  The fact that I’ve kept the lower half of her body well into shadow has forced the attention to concentrate on the upper half, where the interest of a portrait in this style lies.  The view is a more pronounced upward angle now, which also lends the effect of dominance by the subject where the others have been either on a level with the eyes or only very slightly lower.

Exercise Learning

It wasn’t until I made portrait images of my own that I fully realised how much the angle of the camera has on the perceived tone emanating from the subject actually has.  I think that in later exercises I’ll have to look at making the angle downward pointing as I believe this will impart a feeling of supplication or innocence.


10 Responses to Project: Types of Portrait Framing

  1. vickiuvc says:

    I love the last one! She looks one feisty lady—there is character and strength there!

  2. Catherine says:

    Now why is it that you’re looking for supplication Eddy?! I reckon your wife is like me – patience for posing only extends to about one minute then I’ve had enough – particularly as we have endless photographs of me sitting at the computer!

    • Eddy Lerp says:

      Probably because I have to admit to having been naughty….. I posted my blog to Facebook with these images and that wasn’t part of the deal… slap, slap , ouch

  3. bmhana says:

    My favourite is the head and shoulders one, but I think they all look very natural, and that’s what you were aiming for, so great job.
    I’m at the same stage as you in P&P, so will be following with interest!
    All the best,

    • Eddy Lerp says:

      Thanks for the kind comments Barry.

      It seems there’s a number of us starting this module at the same time and whenever I get an email telling me that someone’s posted I put it to one side for later so I can pick their brains.

      I have read your blog and was intrigued by the images you made when I saw them, but was saving my comments until later, then later passed me by I’m afraid.

      From reading what you had to say it appears your wife suffers from the same disease as mine, ‘no-one wants to see my photo’s and I don’t want to be embarrassed.’

      I must say that I liked the first image the best, the full face shot, you seem to have caught the complexion and skin tones wonderfully.

  4. bmhana says:

    Thanks Eddy,
    I’m going through a phase now where I’m trying to learn and experiment with flash having desperately tried to avoid it for so long. The speedlite sat largely unused for a year or so and I’m hoping that P&P will give me the opportunity to get used to it.
    I know what you mean about later passing you by though!

  5. Eddy Lerp says:

    I empathise with you on the speedlite. I’ve had one for a while now and the book Speedlighters Handbook, but actually tackling the useage of the thing properly is another matter. I think I’ll really need to invest some time soon on this.

  6. Mali says:

    I would say the 4th one is my favorite by far, I love her curvy pose, it is less static than the second and third. Also the lighting effect on the face lightly angle is the most dimentional one 🙂

    My second favorite one is the first one similar lighting effect but with softer edge.

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