have a great looking girl and you have a camera. What more do you need?
Unfortunately you need much more.
Actually there have been more books written about “How to Photograph Girls”
than any other photographic texts. What’s more, photographers have been
snapping girls since we first managed to record blurry images on Daguerre’s
sensitized glass plates.
However, unless you are careful, you will end up with shots that are far
from glamorous, and are disappointing for both the subject and the
cameraman. The answer lies in following some simple rules which will make
your lady look glam, so much so that you will want enlargements of the very
Let’s start with the basic pose. The first rule with all amateur models is
to get your subject to relax. (Note I refer in this article to amateur
models. Professional ones know which poses to adopt, and which poses make
them look the best. That is why professional models are expensive! Make that
Now, if your favorite lady is standing rigidly to attention in front of the
camera, I can guarantee that the end result will not be pleasing. When
photographing Thai people in particular, it is even more important to get
them relaxed and happy, as they tend to “stand to attention” with arms held
straight at their sides, looking as if they are on army parade. The other
favorite position is to place thumb and forefinger under the chin, which
does not look glamorous, but rather looks faintly ridiculous, and I don’t
know why they all do it.
I have found that it helps to have an album of different poses cut from
magazines, adverts, etc., and show them to your subject. When the sitter
knows what “look” you are trying to achieve, it makes it easier all round.
The pose to avoid at all costs is the subject straight on to the camera.
This is unfortunately the commonest pose - but it is the worst as far as
looking attractive is concerned.
Here’s what to do to get over this problem. Simply sit your lady in a chair,
and then turn it 45 degrees away from the straight ahead position. Now ask
her to slowly turn her head and look at the end of your camera’s lens. Now
you look through your viewfinder - see? It looks better already, doesn’t it!
Now ask her to gently raise the shoulder closest to the camera and smile.
Guess what? You are starting to get a glamorous image.
Now get her to slightly bend the neck to move her chin down towards the
body, so that she has to look slightly upwards with her eyes at the camera.
This makes the eyes look large and enticing.
That basic pose can be modified by turning to the left as well as to the
right, shoulders up or down, open mouthed smile or shy grin. Each shot will
have a different look.
For these sorts of portraits you do need to make the subject’s head fill the
viewfinder. Keep the top of the hair just inside the top edge of the viewing
area and the lower edge should just keep the shoulders in the frame. In
other words, walk in close. The best lens for this is around 135 mm, if you
have a choice. This focal length is even known as a ‘portrait’ lens.
Lighting is the next important factor in producing that romantic glamor
portrait. The trick here is to use gentle, soft lighting to avoid harsh and
unflattering shadows. One super little trick to take shadows away from under
the chin, nose and eyes is to open out a newspaper and place it in the
sitter’s lap. The reflected light will gently lessen the dark shadows, but
is not seen in the final shot.
Another trick used by the professional glamour photographers is to “back
light” the subject and then reflect light back into the face with gold foil
reflectors. The gold imparts a very “warm” and flattering color to the skin.
The reflector will also be picked up as small highlights in the eyes, which
gives sparkle and an “alive” feeling to the portrait.