Portrait Photography: Where Should your Subjects Face?

One of the most important factors to keep in mind during portrait photography is where subjects are looking and how this influences your shot. The direction your subjects face can have a significant impact on the image and even determine how your target audience will view it. In most cases, a viewer will use a subject’s eyes as their focus.

If a couple is captured looking into each other’s eyes, this makes viewers think of a relationship. In a picture that captures a subject seated at a dining table looking at a meal, viewers are likely to think of desire.

When it comes to where subjects face in portrait photos, there is no set rule but your choice can either have a positive or negative impact on your shot. There are two main approaches that you need to keep in mind when it comes to digital portrait photography and where your subjects face.

Subject Looks Away from Camera

If you instruct your subjects to look away from the camera, your viewers will be interested in what they are looking at. Viewers will want to know the object that has captured the subject’s focus. If you choose this option you can either reveal what the subject is looking at or put it out of sight.

You can choose to include the object they are looking at inside the frame to allow you to create a point of focus for the shots. In portrait photos where subjects look beyond the frame, your images will have some sort of intrigue or tension and this can either work or fail depending on what you want to attain.

Subject Faces Camera Directly

When a subject is looking directly into a camera, they are the point of focus. It will be difficult for viewers to overlook them. This is a great portrait photography idea if you want people to pay attention to the subjects.

It is also important to note that a subject looking directly into a camera can also make viewers feel tense and uncomfortable. This is one of the strongest and most confrontational poses in portrait photography. If you want a very powerful shot, this may be the best approach.

Think about the kind of mood you would like to create with your images before you settle on where your subjects should look. You can also communicate a particular message to your viewers by selecting a particular pose.

Taking portrait photos is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. The main objective of this form of photography is to capture the subject’s personality. For this reason, you should use your imagination to come up with the best poses. Experiment with various setups until you get something that works for your intended purpose. Consider what viewers will feel and think when they look at the image as you make your decision. Portrait photos should capture the subject clearly and deliberately influence the viewer’s focus depending on what you want them to see. The direction that you select for your subject can help viewers have a common interpretation of the image.