As Professionals Shouldn’t we know how to make someone look beautiful without Photoshop?

I learned photography using film, when there were only two kinds of photographers: those that knew how to use lighting and posing to make someone look beautiful and those photographers that were quickly out of business!  Then came Photoshop, when you could spend hours correcting your client’s flaws that should have been corrected in the camera room.  Corrective Lighting and Posing is a lost art for many younger photographers that were never taught how to use lighting and posing to make the typical client look stunning.  Most photographers start feeling pretty good about their abilities when they can make a beautiful person look beautiful in a portrait, but isn’t that what a camera does?  It captures reality, if the person is perfect put her under a tree with her back to the sun, have her fold her arms and guess what… in all likelihood she will look perfect (your amazing!).

But what does the average paying client look like?  Clients don’t look like perfect models, they look like Me and You and that is far from perfect (in most cases)!  Going one step further, even people who seem perfect to others have things in their appearance they would change if they could and won’t buy a portrait if these slight imperfections show.  Have you ever photographed an attractive person who didn’t buy the photographs you had taken, but to you she looked amazing?  In most of these cases, the person saw something in the final images that they were self-conscious about and became fixated on that one imperfection.

Photographers that want to make clients look their best in the camera room realize that shadow and not light becomes our digital paint brush.  You can’t hide a thick face, waistline or body in light, but you can in shadow.  To have workable shadow you must have control over your light.  Control in lighting means working with smaller light sources that have grids, louvers and/or barn-doors for pinpoint placement,  revealing to the camera only the areas of the subject you want it to see.  Controllable light sources, provide controllable shadows, but also require more knowledge about lighting and shadowing to use effectively.  To know what you can do with your lighting you must test your lighting, know your lighting ratios or amount of fill from reflectors on different skin-tones to know the effect of your lighting on various clients.

Posing is the second area of Correcting flaws that is vital to make paying clients look beautiful.  Posing is one of the most challenging areas of photography, because you can’t test posing to work out the variables so everything is ‘nailed down’.  Every client has a different body type, with arms and legs that are longer or shorter than the previous client.  A pose that makes one young lady look like a super-model will make the next young lady look the chubby girls no one wants to date.

To use posing to correct flaws you must look for ways to use the body and the pose to hide the areas of the body you know that paying clients will worry about the most.  Most women want, but do not have flat tummy.  Most women want hips and thighs that provide curves without appearing large, but that is not what most clients end up with.  Most clients want to have one chin, but most have an extra one or two just sitting there!  By practicing posing that deals with these common problem you increase the value of your photography to your paying clients and the quality of images that see when they first view their images.

By learning poses that hide the stomach, thin the hips and stretch the loose skin under the chin you become a better photographer, one that doesn’t have to rely on Photoshop as your only tool you have mastered to enhance someones appearance.  To Learn more about Corrective Lighting and Posing the brand new updated and revised 3rd edition is out and available at or bookstores everywhere!  Corrective Lighting and Posing 3rd Edition


~ by jeffsmithbooks on April 12, 2010.

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