Don’t Look Up

January 14, 2019

Don’t look up when having your photograph taken, it looks unnatural.

When it comes to portraits, editorial portraits (and more recently with business portraits and headshots) there’s a growing preference for looking away from the lens.

The whole point of this is to make pictures look more natural and honest, candid photography is suddenly en-vogue with the corporate world as well as the editorial portrait environment.

It’s a load of old codswallop though right because it might look natural but it isn’t. It’s as staged as any of the shoots looking at the lens. Less natural if you think about it. At least when a person is looking at the lens they’re not pretending to do the opposite of what they are doing – posing.

Any pictures you see of people looking away from the photographer are posed, staged setup. They might look like a natural moment that’s been captured but they’re taken in a studio or at a shoot location for goodness sake, of course they aren’t natural.

More often than not there is an element of ‘natural moment’ about it because when people are looking away from the lens they can be less self aware and self critical but let’s be honest about this, it’s just another pose. And if you are going to pose for a portrait, headshot or whatever kind of photograph, do it right.

We all know how naff the middle distance stare can be. Nobody wants to look like they’re about to appear in a littlewoods catalogue. The reason this looks false is when it’s done without the relevant reaction. If someone is looking towards the middle distance they’ll be looking at something so probably squinting a little or possibly gesturing.

That’s the trick get into character with your natural poses, which is why I don’t think that looking up works. Looking down is so much more real. People don’t often look up, looking down is a much more human posture so stick with it.

Having said all this I do think that the picture above looking up is a nice shot but the one below where she’s looking down is more natural.

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