Photographing Beauty At Any Size
I absolutely love photographing beauty and I’ve been creating beauty images for years. It all comes from my start as a headshot & portrait photographer. Early in my career I collaborated with my salon hair stylists and we shot fun images for their hair competition submissions. I believe that beauty comes in many packages and it’s important for media and brands to show that. I wanted to share some tips on shooting beauty with images I've photographed of beauty on various sized models.
Get Inspired By Your Subject
Beauty is all about the face!! When I’m casting for beauty projects, I’m looking for models that can really emote and connect with the camera. To shoot strong beauty you need a beautiful subject with features that will photograph well up close. I usually look for intriguing eyes, good skin, full lips and a proportionate nose.
The models that I want to photograph specifically for beauty is because something about their face inspires me. I don’t care if they are plus size, straight size, in between or whatever, but there is something intriguing I find about their face that I have to photograph. When I find someone that I want to photograph for beauty, I think of ideas about what type of shoot I want to do with them, how I want their makeup, the light, etc.
For Kyrsten, I was obsessed with her look and I wanted to play with lighting and glam her up.
Elevate Your Subject’s Features
The key to creating a strong beauty image is to bring out your subject’s features in the most beautiful way that fits within your concept. Whether it's a personal project or a client shoot, I look at my subject and I find features about them that I love and want to highlight. I may ask them what they like about themselves or what features they feel really confident about. When I shoot beauty, I’m communicating with my hair and makeup about what looks will highlight our model’s features. Not every makeup look works for each face, I’ve definitely learned that the HARD way. Find MUA’s and hair stylists with a good taste to help you pick the best beauty looks.
Posing & Direction
There are certainly differences in posing for a size 2 vs a size 6 vs a 8 vs a 16 body. You need to take into account posing and direction that is complimentary to your subject’s body & features. When I’m directing and posing a subject of any size for beauty images, I’m working to elongate their neck and create a variety of angles within their face.
In the photo above, you'll notice similar poses, however the angle of each model's upper body and arms are slightly different to flatter their body.
There are many tricks a model can do to elongate their neck. I love both of these poses because they show how you can create long lines using various angles with your body.
Another way to elongate the neck and feature the model's face and the work of the makeup artist is to pull hair behind the face as seen below.
Use Hair To Frame The Face
Beauty imagery should also have a hair focus. Hair can be really powerful for the composition of your image. It's important that the hair doesn't completely cover the face (though a good waft can create some incredible drama). If you're focusing on eyes, make sure the hair doesn't cover the eyes or the feature you're highlighting.
Hands Are A Detail That Shouldn't Be Missed!
If your model is using hands for a beauty shot they should be deliberately as part of the shot. Hands can get really ugly really quickly and a lot of beauty can get too handsy. I've had my fair share of bad hand beauty shots. I show my subjects ballet hands (former dancer here) and make sure the hands are soft and relaxed. Having reference photos is a good way to direct for hands too. Be aware of when a hand is looking too much like a fist or a claw. Another thing with hands to think about is the manicure, keeping the hands hydrated and matching the skin tones of the hands with the face and neck!
Photograph Beauty At Any Size
Thank you for reading this post. The models I showed in this post range from a size 0-18. I'm very proud to have photographed beauty at many sizes throughout my career and will continue to do more! I want this post to empower you - as a photographer, model, makeup artist, viewer, etc to photograph beauty at any size!