Effect of Focal Length on Portrait

Good Looks But Bad Photos Problem and Solution

Last Updated on May 13, 2016 by PixelPluck

Good Looks But Bad Photos Problem and Solution.

How To Fix Good Looks But Bad Photos Problem! Why Do Sometimes Good Looking People Look Bad in Photos

This must have happened more than once, but why? It is just the photography skills?

Sample Problem :

“My girlfriend looks great in reality, and she used to be able to take excellent pictures. Lately though (for the last year or so), most of her pictures don’t turn out good. Whether on purpose or candid, it’s rare to see a good shot of her.”

Summary of Solutions:

Photographer, subject, and lighting work together to create a beautiful portrait. There are many factors which may be responsible for the above situation and more importantly not all of it is gear related. Let us look at the possibilities and solutions. Good portraiture is not just a matter of moving the subject or camera around in physical space, but also through the use of lighting to create the right Mood.

  1. Using the wrong lens. If you’re taking closeups with a wide angle lens all the time, perspective distortion is going to pull all kinds of nasty stretches on their face and body. Conversely, if you’re using 70-200mm or more and all your shots are from far away, the flattening perspective may be too much to match with them.
    Effect of Focal Length on Portrait
    Effect of Focal Length on Portrait
  2. If you’re shooting in studios or outdoors, ensure that your lighting setup is correct. Too much overhead light giving harsh shadows around the eyes, and emphasizing jowls. Or, too much light from underneath making them look unnatural and spooky.
  3. There’s a possibility that you’re shooting outdoors and you’re standing in the shade to avoid the direct light, and it turns out that the lighting is still directional, just softer, giving them black skull eyes (Use Reflector to fix this problem). The light maybe too soft, and everything may look flat. Again, a reflector, even if it doesn’t really lighten them up much, can add a sparkle to the eyes which really helps.
  4. If you’re in a forest or grass area, maybe the strong green reflections are making them look alien or sick. Or your flashes or other lights are not color balanced, giving weird casts. Try adjusting white balance or use grey cards.
  5. Another problem could just be bad timing of photos. Who is taking all these photos? You? Or other people too?If it’s just you taking the photos, it’s absolutely possible that because you have it in your head that she looks awesome, you aren’t actually looking at her when you take photos. Because all you can see is that she’s hot, you don’t notice that her hair is at a funny angle, or that there’s a triangle shadow from her nose across her face, or she’s turned at a funny angle which makes her neck look weird, or that the pose she’s in makes her arm look real long or too short, and so on.
  6. Also, you could be directing her poses or taking snaps of her in candid situations, and again, your filter is up too high. You don’t give her a chance to settle into a pose, or you don’t wait for her smile to reach maximum, or you don’t look and be like ‘ooh that twist makes her look like she has hella back fat’.
    Or whatever. You really need to ignore what you think she looks like, and actually LOOK at her.

Don’t be afraid to say
“Damn girl, you look awesome, but tilting your head down like that gives you wicked double chin..”

Another situation could be that everyone’s photos of her look bad. Then there are other problems too.
Perhaps she needs a makeover or a date with a stylist. She might be wearing all the wrong colors and all the wrong clothes, which are clashing with her. Maybe she thinks she’s some awesome model and she’s actually just doing it all wrong. Maybe your earlier photos looked great because she was just being natural, but now she’s trying to be all fierce and it’s coming across insincere. Or it could just be that she’s very critical of her photos, so now every time she sees a camera, she gets all stressed and weird about it, and it kills the mood. Maybe, in studio situations with good lighting she does killer photos and so on, but in ‘real life’ as soon as a camera gets whipped out, she gets into a mood where it’s super difficult to take a good shot.

Follow this quick checklist.

  • Check you’re not using the wrong lenses and perspectives.
  • Don’t look at her like she’s your supremely hot girlfriend who is totally gorgeous all the time. Look at her like she’s a human being who is only a twist, turn, lean, or angle away from looking bad. Use your real eyes, not your love-addled mind eye.
  • Make sure she’s not just wearing ugly clothes and ugly hair.
  • Make sure she’s not trying to “Be A Model” instead of just being confident in herself.

Nothing Worked? Blame the Camera and Move On. 😉

Looking for your Dream Lens? Read about the Top 10 Dream Lenses for Every Photographer.




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