Eye Contact

Typical portraits have the subject looking directly into the camera. Direct eye contact can help the viewer connect with the subject. A piercing direct gaze or big, soft eyes looking into the lens can make for a great shot.

You should, however, have your subjects vary their eye contact. Have them look at the camera, off into the distance, over their shoulder, and so on. Varying eye contact creates a more voyeuristic view, as if the viewer is looking in on a scene. Also, it creates more of a moment for storytelling if the viewer is looking into the scene, imagining what the subject is looking at.

I frequently have subjects look slightly up and into the distance to create a more pensive feeling or show a different, perhaps more flattering angle of their face. Figures 6.9 and 6.10 show the difference between a subject looking at the camera and away from the camera during a fashion shoot. Typically, if the shot is aggressive and bold, the subject makes eye contact, whereas if the image is soft, the subject looks away.

Fashion Photography Looks

Figure 6.9

In this fashion image, the model is making direct eye contact with the camera. The result is bold, with the focus on her eyes.

Figure 6.9

In this fashion image, the model is making direct eye contact with the camera. The result is bold, with the focus on her eyes.

Figure 6.10

In this shot, the model is looking away, which creates a soft, pensive mood.

Figure 6.10

In this shot, the model is looking away, which creates a soft, pensive mood.

When having subjects look away from the camera, be aware of the white of their eyes. If you are having them look off into another part of the frame, be sure their eyes are not looking too far to one side or the other, or too much of the whites of their eyes will show and create a creepy and unflattering effect (see Figure 6.11). I usually tell the subject exactly what to look at to help prevent this mistake that I see often in portraiture.

In fashion and conceptual portraiture, sometimes the subject's face is not even visible. The portrait is revealing something about the subject that doesn't necessarily require seeing the face. Perhaps the subject is turned away from the camera or is in silhouette. For example, one of the most famous portraits of Mike Tyson showed just the back of his head, yet his thick neck and shaved head clearly identified him to the public. In Figure 6.12, my client's hairstyle was distinct and easily identifiable to her friends and family. Because her hairstyle

Figure 6.11

Viewing too much of the whites of a subject's eyes becomes creepy and unappealing.

Silhouette Medieval Man Head

Figure 6.11

Viewing too much of the whites of a subject's eyes becomes creepy and unappealing.

was her trademark, I wanted to create an image that emphasized her silhouette. The resulting image does not show her face, but it does show her style, personality, and fashion flair. I shot this image in the studio with two strobes pointed at a white background at full power.

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