Master the Nuances for a Masterful Image

Boudoir portrait of a woman photographed by master photographer Mark Laurie who specializes in female nudes and boudoir images.

The devil is in the details as they say; it’s true, too. Sometimes you can’t quite put your finger on it when an image lacks impact, or when another image seems to just shine.

It’s the nuances. The tiny things. The small details that register in the back of the brain.

This is where many photographers skip the moment to look carefully, then fuss and adjust.

A collar turned up, wisp of hair falling wrong, a foot twisted; the list goes on. Train your eyes to find them. Interestingly, you will discover that the same things keep cropping up. After awhile your eyes become trained to look for them, and with just a glance you will know what to fix.

One of the details is the limbs, hands, and feet. Photographers never seem to quite know what to do with them.

Break them.

That was the trick I was taught early on. Break them – or, rather, break the line.

You will find this posing point in nearly all the great master paintings and photographs. My mentor told me that any part of the body, especially limbs, should always bend or “break” where they can. It adds tension, interest, design, and flow.

So the arms bend at the elbow, the hands bend at the wrist. The head tilts, or turns, or both. Knees bend, feet bend or turn. It all speaks of motion, intent, and dynamics. It will also help tell a story better. Your subject will love it because they will no longer feel like they are just standing there.

Boudoir portrait of a woman photographed by master photographer Mark Laurie who specializes in female nudes and boudoir images.

With the hands, break or bend them upwards for the most part. Watch that they don’t come off gimpy looking. For gracefulness, turn, as much as you can, the edge of the hand – the little finger edge – toward the camera. The backs of the hand toward the camera will transmit power and some bulkiness.

Slight turns of the head with a tilt will really lift the emotional feel of the image. Watch the talking head newscasters. Their heads are always coming up, down, turning. There is a place for the dead on, face forward, but it is tricky to pull off. So many other elements in the image are needed to make it work. Be careful with the eyes, though. When you tell someone to turn their head, they barely turn it then look as far away as they can with their eyes. Keep the eyes as close to center as you can, giving the white on both sides equal space.

With the legs, bend at least one knee. Usually if the woman is turned to the side, the back leg will take all the weight. That makes it more thick and stumpy looking, but luckily the camera cannot see that. What it does see is the gracefully, bent into an S curve, of the foreground leg, heel raised so the ankle bends.

So go ahead, at your next photo shoot, break something.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *