6 Tips for Photographing Large People - Digital Photography School

6 Tips for Photographing Large People

The first thing to acknowledge here is that large people know that they’re large. As with any body type (skinny included) their body image may cause them to believe that they’re either larger or smaller than they are. You can tastefully discuss body image with them clients which is something I may be inclined to do with any type of person. Understanding how a client feels about their body is always a great thing to know. And if they’ve scheduled a photo session, they’re probably already pretty confident people.

As a society, we try to find ways to make people look smaller and we think that smaller = more attractive, but this doesn’t need to be our primary focus when shooting large people. Making them appear comfortable? Now that’s important. And I agree, laying on the ground is usually a no-go. Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful:

  1. Use a telephoto lens or the longest zoom that you have. This will compress the shot and keep it from suffering from widening distortion. Experiment with the distortion correction in Photoshop to see if there’s any barreling that you don’t notice on first inspection.
  2. Don’t shoot from a low angle.
  3. You can shoot from higher up looking down, but beware that this is a way overused tactic for photographing larger people so throw in lots of other types of framing, not just this one.
  4. You can use one subject’s body to shield another (if one is lighter than the other)
  5. Obviously, you have the option of not photographing their whole body. Try different varieties of head-and-shoulders shots, but beware that they may feel that you’re saying that they’re unattractive if you don’t also provide them with body shots. Your job is to photograph them like you would anyone else so don’t think you’re doing them a favour by completely ignoring their entire body.
  6. In a post of mine this week on posing families, try the ‘huddle’ and ‘squeeze in’ poses which eliminates full body shots.

Thanks so much for reading and share your tips below!

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Elizabeth Halford is a Hampshire Photographer and keeps a rockin'photography blog where she writes about photography and business in "real.plain.english". She's addicted to Facebook and can be found answering photography and business questions every day here on her page

  • http://private Cameron

    Sorry but I not gonna lie, Never ever will I ever photograph a large bride again. Five years of a great business and everyone of my clients so, so, so so wonderful people, really wonderful people. Enter big bertha the tank ! On the day of her wedding she was horrible and after it she took me to hell and back.

  • Kina Williams

    @Cameron…it’s certainly your choice on who you want to work with…but you don’t have to “name-call” and be mean…your client being horrible has NOTHING to do with her size. You sound like a bully!

  • http://www.tonysalephotography.co.uk Tony|Essex Wedding Photographer

    Hi I’m photographing on Sunday where both the bride and groom are very large people, so have just been searching for some tips when I came accross your post. Some great advice here particulalrly about using a telephoto lens and not shooting from a low angle – great advice thank you!

  • http://www.tonysalephotography.co.uk Tony|Essex Wedding Photographer

    Sorry above should read photographing a ‘wedding’ on Sunday……………

  • http://www.kerstenbeck.com Erik Kerstenbeck

    Hi

    We have a lot of plus size clients, we always go high angle. This model looks fantastic – what do you think?

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/boudoir-part-6-its-for-everyone/

  • Lou

    In my experience for any body size/shape etc, you have to pay attention to your subject and what your subject wants. I know of some larger women who would be horrified with all this ‘covering up’ and focusing on trying to hide ‘flaws’ – not that I consider big big a ‘flaw’. These women are proud and confident of their body shape and it’s precisely this they want to celebrate in their pictures – they would be offended with a photographer trying to hide it. Likewise there are larger women who WANT to cover it up, they want some photography magic done and to look like a different person. I personally prefer working with those who are not running scared of their body, they generally make for a better experience and generally, the images come out better. But we are all different.

    If a photographer goes into a photo shoot with his/her issues and ideas of what they consider flattering (particularly if they are not subtle about that agenda) you alienate your subject, and leave them with a negative experience. I also personally think the classic ‘fat lady’ angle is pretty darn awful, it rarely looks good imo; there are far better options for those looking to ‘hide’ their body. Also the ‘head and shoulder’ shoot is a cop out and looks obvious. There are many, many interesting things you can do for those trying to hide lumps and bumps without resorting to these lazy techniques. To me, these ‘techniques’ are the distinct mark of an amateur.

  • Tess

    Thank you for taking the time to write this. I appreciate your tips very much. From my very limited experience, you get a wide variety of comfort levels when it comes to people, regardless of shape and size. But for those who are specifically overweight AND insecure about it – awesome tips.

    For example, I took some photos of my friend and her adorable little family. My friend is probably 50 lbs overweight. I approached it with the opinion that she’s a beautiful, gorgeous woman (because she is!), and I didn’t even think about taking photos to try to minimize her size. I thought she looked beautiful in the photos. They didn’t make her look unflattering at all. But when she saw some of them, ones that I thought were accurate (as in, the angle didn’t catch her weird and make her look larger or anything), it was obvious SHE did not like them. I can guarantee she would have wanted me to have used these tips here in this article for her. She didn’t want her legs in them (she had me crop them out) and she hated ones where her upper arms were showing. I never realized it before, but it turned out she was very insecure about her size. Luckily we found several she liked, but I wished I would have tactfully discussed any insecurities she might have had, prior to taking her photos.

    It definitely gave me some food for thought. A photographer NEEDS to be aware of each persons personal feelings about themselves. It doesn’t matter if we accept and love them for exactly who/what they are if THEY don’t. They aren’t going to like photos that display things they dislike about themselves.

    I agree that you should ask anyone, regardless of size, what their feelings are about things (without suggesting they SHOULD be insecure about anything). Then take photos with that in mind. As was said, even skinny people are insecure. Or women who have had babies and are dealing with belly flab that they don’t want displayed to the world. Some are insecure about fat under their chin. You really never know, and shouldn’t presume…so discussion is important.

    I think it’s fabulous that there are so many women who commented here who are comfortable with their larger size. I couldn’t agree with you more that large women are gorgeous too. But I know not all women feel that way about themselves. Some are very insecure and these are great tips, specific to larger people, who feel insecure in pics. My sister is probably 150lbs overweight and hates photos of herself. I am very grateful for these tips so I can now, hopefully, take some photos of her with her family that she can treasure instead of hate. :-)

    I think any good photographer tries to get inside the mind of their subject to help understand better what will make the person feel good about themself. I loved the article. Now I feel armed with some ideas should I find myself in a similar situation. Thanks for the tips!

  • colin

    As a pro I have already commented here but I have to say that it is very hard to sell a picture to a fat person usually because although they don’t mind being fat being confronted with a true image of themselves for some reason is not appealing to them.Weddings are different but at events the only pictures I ever sell are usually haed and shoulder shots close in and it is usually the ladies that walk away .

  • http://vegasvaughnphotography.com Wendy

    I used to be 110 pounds. I had two kids and am now 195 pounds. A friend of mine used to be 200 pounds, had a baby and is now 310.
    I was once “skinny” and she’s never been thin her entire life. I’m a photographer and she is not. Point being….to those of us who have had plenty of experience shooting heavier people, we have shot people like me (new to having more weight on), as well as people like my friend (has never been thin).
    I find this discussion just fine. There is no beating around the bush….some women feel fine with their size. Others, like myself, do not. We run into different people with different feelings. I have had clients grimace at my photographs because they looked larger than they were. To avoid that, I searched the Internet and found articles to help me understand how to slenderize people. No biggie. In my opinion, honestly, America has a huge obesity problem. And this is coming from a fat girl that loves cake!!

  • http://vegasvaughnphotography.com Wendy

    Julia I agree 100%!!

  • Laurie

    I feel as if many people missed the point of this article and jumped to conclusions. This is not about “hiding” or “concealing” a heavier person, it is about finding the most flattering poses to accentuate their beauty in a photograph. Photographers have to think of ways to flatter ALL people, not just those with a few extra pounds. Fashion photographers use similar techniques to photograph their models. It’s what you have to do with a photograph that is a fixed image. This is especially true when clients are paying to see images of themselves that look good. They pay a photographer not only to produce photographs that are arful, but also those that are flattering.

    I found these tips to be very helpful. All human bodies big and small are beautiful, which is why everyone deserves to have images that flatter this beauty!

  • sara

    Hello everyone! I know this thread is old but its one of the first ones that came up when I googled how to photograph a fat person.
    First of all, thank you so much to whomever first wrote this article. I am very obese and I’m about to have a photo session with my hubby. I am really excited about it and I want the photos to be the best they can!
    I know I’m fat. I will not be shocked when I see myself in a photo. But I do know that there are flattering angles for all body types and while I want my photos to show my beautiful self, I also want them to be tasteful and show the best of me.
    I’ve been reading a lot of comments and so many of you are giving wonderful tips! I’m a beginning photographer myself and I find your advise prudent and soo helpful, and I’m going to file all this new knowledge away for later.
    Its too bad that some people got offended. I think this article is great and just what I was looking for!
    Blessings and love to you all!

  • Kimberly

    This article is junk. It’s how people end up striking affected poses, thinking they are showing their good side.

    I’m obese and I’ve been photographed by someone who is well on the rise as a photographer. She photographs me as she does others. She gets great shots because she puts me at my ease.

  • http://www.recessionproofphotographer.com/ Jason Wallis

    Elizabeth you are totally right in what you posted. Please don’t remove an image because of internet comment trolls.

  • Robert Knapp

    Good advice. Thanks

  • Jared Lawson

    Thanks and remember that photographing large people doesn’t change some key portrait principles, like light them properly. Also pose them in natural settings that fit who they are, it will be less distracting. California Wedding Photographer

  • Steve Jackson

    And don’t sugar-coat the fact that they’re fat, or they’ll eat that too…

Some older comments

  • Jason Wallis

    March 17, 2013 01:40 am

    Elizabeth you are totally right in what you posted. Please don't remove an image because of internet comment trolls.

  • Kimberly

    November 30, 2012 03:39 pm

    This article is junk. It's how people end up striking affected poses, thinking they are showing their good side.

    I'm obese and I've been photographed by someone who is well on the rise as a photographer. She photographs me as she does others. She gets great shots because she puts me at my ease.

  • sara

    November 30, 2012 10:05 am

    Hello everyone! I know this thread is old but its one of the first ones that came up when I googled how to photograph a fat person.
    First of all, thank you so much to whomever first wrote this article. I am very obese and I'm about to have a photo session with my hubby. I am really excited about it and I want the photos to be the best they can!
    I know I'm fat. I will not be shocked when I see myself in a photo. But I do know that there are flattering angles for all body types and while I want my photos to show my beautiful self, I also want them to be tasteful and show the best of me.
    I've been reading a lot of comments and so many of you are giving wonderful tips! I'm a beginning photographer myself and I find your advise prudent and soo helpful, and I'm going to file all this new knowledge away for later.
    Its too bad that some people got offended. I think this article is great and just what I was looking for!
    Blessings and love to you all!

  • Laurie

    May 7, 2012 10:12 am

    I feel as if many people missed the point of this article and jumped to conclusions. This is not about "hiding" or "concealing" a heavier person, it is about finding the most flattering poses to accentuate their beauty in a photograph. Photographers have to think of ways to flatter ALL people, not just those with a few extra pounds. Fashion photographers use similar techniques to photograph their models. It's what you have to do with a photograph that is a fixed image. This is especially true when clients are paying to see images of themselves that look good. They pay a photographer not only to produce photographs that are arful, but also those that are flattering.

    I found these tips to be very helpful. All human bodies big and small are beautiful, which is why everyone deserves to have images that flatter this beauty!

  • Wendy

    February 25, 2012 08:31 am

    Julia I agree 100%!!

  • Wendy

    February 25, 2012 08:28 am

    I used to be 110 pounds. I had two kids and am now 195 pounds. A friend of mine used to be 200 pounds, had a baby and is now 310.
    I was once "skinny" and she's never been thin her entire life. I'm a photographer and she is not. Point being....to those of us who have had plenty of experience shooting heavier people, we have shot people like me (new to having more weight on), as well as people like my friend (has never been thin).
    I find this discussion just fine. There is no beating around the bush....some women feel fine with their size. Others, like myself, do not. We run into different people with different feelings. I have had clients grimace at my photographs because they looked larger than they were. To avoid that, I searched the Internet and found articles to help me understand how to slenderize people. No biggie. In my opinion, honestly, America has a huge obesity problem. And this is coming from a fat girl that loves cake!!

  • colin

    January 30, 2012 11:16 pm

    As a pro I have already commented here but I have to say that it is very hard to sell a picture to a fat person usually because although they don't mind being fat being confronted with a true image of themselves for some reason is not appealing to them.Weddings are different but at events the only pictures I ever sell are usually haed and shoulder shots close in and it is usually the ladies that walk away .

  • Tess

    January 30, 2012 05:12 am

    Thank you for taking the time to write this. I appreciate your tips very much. From my very limited experience, you get a wide variety of comfort levels when it comes to people, regardless of shape and size. But for those who are specifically overweight AND insecure about it - awesome tips.

    For example, I took some photos of my friend and her adorable little family. My friend is probably 50 lbs overweight. I approached it with the opinion that she's a beautiful, gorgeous woman (because she is!), and I didn't even think about taking photos to try to minimize her size. I thought she looked beautiful in the photos. They didn't make her look unflattering at all. But when she saw some of them, ones that I thought were accurate (as in, the angle didn't catch her weird and make her look larger or anything), it was obvious SHE did not like them. I can guarantee she would have wanted me to have used these tips here in this article for her. She didn't want her legs in them (she had me crop them out) and she hated ones where her upper arms were showing. I never realized it before, but it turned out she was very insecure about her size. Luckily we found several she liked, but I wished I would have tactfully discussed any insecurities she might have had, prior to taking her photos.

    It definitely gave me some food for thought. A photographer NEEDS to be aware of each persons personal feelings about themselves. It doesn't matter if we accept and love them for exactly who/what they are if THEY don't. They aren't going to like photos that display things they dislike about themselves.

    I agree that you should ask anyone, regardless of size, what their feelings are about things (without suggesting they SHOULD be insecure about anything). Then take photos with that in mind. As was said, even skinny people are insecure. Or women who have had babies and are dealing with belly flab that they don't want displayed to the world. Some are insecure about fat under their chin. You really never know, and shouldn't presume...so discussion is important.

    I think it's fabulous that there are so many women who commented here who are comfortable with their larger size. I couldn't agree with you more that large women are gorgeous too. But I know not all women feel that way about themselves. Some are very insecure and these are great tips, specific to larger people, who feel insecure in pics. My sister is probably 150lbs overweight and hates photos of herself. I am very grateful for these tips so I can now, hopefully, take some photos of her with her family that she can treasure instead of hate. :-)

    I think any good photographer tries to get inside the mind of their subject to help understand better what will make the person feel good about themself. I loved the article. Now I feel armed with some ideas should I find myself in a similar situation. Thanks for the tips!

  • Lou

    January 23, 2012 03:03 am

    In my experience for any body size/shape etc, you have to pay attention to your subject and what your subject wants. I know of some larger women who would be horrified with all this 'covering up' and focusing on trying to hide 'flaws' – not that I consider big big a 'flaw'. These women are proud and confident of their body shape and it's precisely this they want to celebrate in their pictures – they would be offended with a photographer trying to hide it. Likewise there are larger women who WANT to cover it up, they want some photography magic done and to look like a different person. I personally prefer working with those who are not running scared of their body, they generally make for a better experience and generally, the images come out better. But we are all different.

    If a photographer goes into a photo shoot with his/her issues and ideas of what they consider flattering (particularly if they are not subtle about that agenda) you alienate your subject, and leave them with a negative experience. I also personally think the classic 'fat lady' angle is pretty darn awful, it rarely looks good imo; there are far better options for those looking to 'hide' their body. Also the 'head and shoulder' shoot is a cop out and looks obvious. There are many, many interesting things you can do for those trying to hide lumps and bumps without resorting to these lazy techniques. To me, these 'techniques' are the distinct mark of an amateur.

  • Erik Kerstenbeck

    December 27, 2011 07:00 am

    Hi

    We have a lot of plus size clients, we always go high angle. This model looks fantastic - what do you think?

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/boudoir-part-6-its-for-everyone/

  • Tony|Essex Wedding Photographer

    December 14, 2011 09:29 pm

    Sorry above should read photographing a 'wedding' on Sunday...............

  • Tony|Essex Wedding Photographer

    December 14, 2011 09:28 pm

    Hi I'm photographing on Sunday where both the bride and groom are very large people, so have just been searching for some tips when I came accross your post. Some great advice here particulalrly about using a telephoto lens and not shooting from a low angle - great advice thank you!

  • Kina Williams

    December 1, 2011 02:23 pm

    @Cameron...it's certainly your choice on who you want to work with...but you don't have to "name-call" and be mean...your client being horrible has NOTHING to do with her size. You sound like a bully!

  • Cameron

    December 1, 2011 06:56 am

    Sorry but I not gonna lie, Never ever will I ever photograph a large bride again. Five years of a great business and everyone of my clients so, so, so so wonderful people, really wonderful people. Enter big bertha the tank ! On the day of her wedding she was horrible and after it she took me to hell and back.

  • Julia

    November 8, 2011 07:41 pm

    Oh yeah and after reading through all the comments,I just wanted to say to those getting offended,that
    THE CAMERA ADDS 10 POUNDS!
    Large or not,I don't want to look bigger then I have to.So this article is very helpful.
    I found this article while searching online for ways to look more flattering in pictures since I have gained a few pounds due to a medication.
    No one wants pictures of themselves to look unflattering.This article is just trying to help everyone look their best!

  • Julia

    November 8, 2011 07:13 pm

    Great tips! I find taking a picture at a low angle makes even a skinny person look bigger then they really are,
    so the suggestion of having a higher angle is a good one.
    These tips seem like they could be applied to anyone to get their best side.

  • Rebecca Hoffman

    October 20, 2011 03:48 pm

    Thank you for this post! Lots of help! :) Thank you Thank you... I'm a newfound fan! I'm excited to read more of your posts! Keep it up!

  • Leanor

    October 3, 2011 07:18 am

    Thank you, so much for these comments they were so helpful. I have a wedding coming up this month with the bride and groom that are of a larger size. now I have suggestions on how to do it angle shots from a higher lever, side views vertical shots not so close also the veil of the bride to cover arms etc with taste of couse would do the job.Even though large people very rarely like themselves in pictures we are only photographers
    (It is what it is) however saying that we can contribute to people's special day by trying our best by using our expertise to make them feel comfortable and beautiful because I have not ever met an ugly bride or groom

  • Colin

    August 4, 2011 07:58 am

    I shoot events mainly.I rarely sell pictures to large women they simply usually dislike themselves in pictures, I only sell head and shoulder shots to large ladies or couples where the Lady is large .I always batch and print pictures at events quality is high , I print all the pictures to maximize sales however where there are large ladies I take extra time to crop and pose the couple sideways on faces turned towards you . The guys are no probs ever.It pays to discuss the brides wishes as regards pictures and perspective is important always .Point and shoot weddings like the old 60's style stack em and crack em are old hat. Funky cropping works whilst post processing so don't worry too much.The main problem at weddings is MWC, mums with cameras all the shots you missed will be posted on Facebook or other places before you get your stuff out and there will be plenty of monster shots lol .Concentrate on exposure more than artistic content.

  • Tonya

    June 17, 2011 02:22 am

    Whoa... pretty heated thread here!

    I have no problems photographing "larger" people. You find their best assets and focus on them.
    The main rule is to NEVER shoot at a low angle for portraits.

  • EmSee

    June 8, 2011 12:51 am

    This article really seems to have stirred up emotions! However it is a subject that has to be considered especially by a professional photographer - it cannot be a bad thing to author the most flattering image of your subject.

    I am surprised that the age old tip of taking the photograph of the subject three quarters on (head turned to camera if needed) is not included - should be the number 1 tip in my opinion as it works 99% of the time.

  • Jaye

    June 7, 2011 05:43 pm

    As a large woman and as a photographer, I pesonally don't see anything wrong with an article discussing how to pose a subject in a flattering way.

    However, I have a few niggling points with comments made:
    1) Calling an oveweight person 'large' isn't overly PC - it is sensitive. Not all people who are oveweight (including myself) are responsible for their weight issues. Things like medication and chronic illness (such as in my case) can cause weight gain even with every effort to stay thin. I was ickle tiny most of my life and when I became ill, I put on over 50lbs litterally overnight (well, about a month, but none-the-less). After tears at my doctor's office, she finally consoled me that there was nothing I could have done. So to use a perjorative term like 'fat' implies a gluttonous slovenly nature and you would do yourself and your clients a favour to stop using it.
    2)I love my clients - especially brides. I love them all - and I want them to enjoy having their photograph taken. But the sad truth is that many women (particularly) of ALL sizes are trained to see the flaws in their body before they see the beauty. The best you can do is assure them that they are beautiful and reinforce it with your enthusiasm to take their picture.
    3) I find it insulting that anyone would think that a larger person would want to be asked before their pictures were shared. Seriously, how is this conversation going to go? 'Erm, miss, do you mind if I show you pictures on my blog? I mean, you are really fat and I wasn't sure if you wantd the world to see your fatness.' Seriously.... you should ask all clients of any size if you can share their pitcures - it is called pofessionalism.

  • Tracey

    June 1, 2011 04:02 am

    My sister used to be quite skinny and she did some modelling so as you can imagine, he self esteem was pretty unrealistic. Now she's put on some weight however due to a medical condition and I really struggled with photographing her because she always thinks that she's big in her photos. I really didn't know how to work with overweight people but now I can! Thanks so much for these tips, they're really helpful both to her confidence and to my (little) photographic ability. :)

  • Amy

    May 29, 2011 11:10 am

    I found this subject matter to be relevant, but I am shocked at all the fuss over it. I just did my first wedding (and probably last--not my cup of tea) for a friend's daughter. The bride has gained a LOT of weight in the past couple of years due to a medical condition. I was warned that she was very self-conscious about it, and to be careful to not take side shots and ones that really made her size noticeable. I was a bit lost and very nervous. Of course, two weeks later I run across this article!!! I really could have used some of these tips. Now, is that really soooo offensive? It is just reality, I think.

  • Kennard

    May 27, 2011 09:16 pm

    @ Caroline I love what you said, it covered most points of views on a personal note. Thanks for speaking up! I love the "one sz fits all" lol.

  • Caroline

    May 27, 2011 08:13 am

    As a fat woman, I'm really surprised by some of the comments here. My size is a simple fact - to suggest that photographers shouldn't discuss how best to take account of it is bizarre. Those who don't mention the f word but pretend I'm 'like anyone else' are usually the most embarrassed by my appearance, not the most accepting. I feel 'other' when people find my fatness too awkward to refer to, not when they accept it as just another physical feature.

    Although I spend much more time behind a camera than in front of it, I've had several recent experiences of photo sessions. One photographer treated me 'like anyone else' (literally 'one size fits all'!) - as a result, the poses were awful and made me look even larger than I really am. I not only didn't want any of the pictures but also felt like a freak he had no idea how to deal with. Another took account of my size and shape, posed me accordingly, and I loved the pictures. She was also professional throughout, and in being open about considering my size made me more confident and relaxed, not less.

  • Amy

    May 27, 2011 03:45 am

    Wow. I always loved coming to DPS to see GREAT articles that educate new and old photographers alike...maybe I'm going to have to take a break from the site.

    I guess, I fit into the 'large people' category. I am greatly offended by this article. Honestly, are you looking at your clients and thinking, oh wow you are BIG...guess I'm gonna have to put you in the back! Who would want to pay money to be made to feel like crap? Do you get that potential future clients are reading your posts and thinking, she's not sounding really nice? She's probably thinking I'm chunky, oh and yeah she put me in the background in that photo so I'm obviously 'large'. Yikes...

    I guess because I'm in a wheelchair too I should be expecting to get photos done where no one sees my wheels...

    Thanks for furthering the idea that everyone has a natural beauty and something to offer and shouldn't be judged on their shapes. Lets hope your kids aren't being pressured to maintain what society and you says makes a good picture.

  • Madison Raine

    May 25, 2011 04:48 am

    TO MOST:
    I think you guys are freaking out about something small! It's not like she said "this is how to take pictures of FAT people" or "to make a CHUBBY person look smaller do this...". Y'all need to CHILL! Get over it. If you have a problem with this article it's probably because you don't respect yourself with the body you have. so don't hate on others.

    TO Elizabeth Halford: I think you did a wonderful job on this article, don't let any of theses post bring you down =)

    TO Olga Fuller: If Ms. Halford had a problem with large people, should would of used hurtful words like fat, obese, over weight, chubby, huge, or something along those lines. She wrote everything nicely.

  • Kina Williams

    May 25, 2011 02:34 am

    @TSchulz....thanks...I love your attitude and sense of humor! I was thinking alot yesterday about what word(s) might have been a better choice for the title of the article...and you seemed to have hit the nail on the head...not sure that there is only one acceptable term because everyone identifies themselves differently..."plus size" seems appropriate in a generic sense...but I'm sure there are some people that even get offended by that.

    @Iskandar...here is a photo I took of a plus size couple at their wedding using a 10-22mm lens @10mm.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/bmJ0gj9G99jg0JTcyVWLTigdwxxPfjTq6ljijgLuUQE?feat=directlink

    I seem to remember that the lens was almost touching them LOL. My suggestion would be to try being super duper close to them...or super duper far away!!...like this one where I shot at 11mm and worked with the building front to highlight the wideangle aspect
    https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/HUVdp_H7xIJ1CpOh9NfYSCgdwxxPfjTq6ljijgLuUQE?feat=directlink
    Hope that is helpful!! :D

  • Iskandar

    May 24, 2011 04:14 pm

    What should I do if I'm stuck with a wideangle fixed lens point and shoot ? Is there a way to make plus size people look more pleasing with such limitation?

  • TSchulz

    May 24, 2011 01:07 pm

    @kina Rock on! I couldn't have said it better.

    I think the "politically correct" crowd of our industry has shown up. Would it make anyone feel better if she renamed the title of the article to something like "6 Tips For Photographing Plus Size People"? Or "Tips for Photographing Larger Than Average People"? Or maybe "Tips For Photographing People Who Consider Themselves Larger Than Average But Still Want Nice Pictures"?

    I personally consider myself one of the 'fat' crowd. Do I like it when people call me "fat"? No. Not really. I tend to see myself as "horizontally challenged" or maybe "gravity enhanced"! :-P

  • Tami jean

    May 24, 2011 03:26 am

    I am a BBW ~ I am a photographer! {BBW= BIG BEAUTIFUL WOMAN} I photograph all body types.. the photo is not in the body it is in the soul.. the eyes. I try to find the comfort level that allows AMAZING photos ~ not hiding who they are but bring out who they are.. Difficulty in front of the camera comes in all shapes and sizes though.. I have had some amazing BBW gals and {I am not even sure what word to use to prevent craziness} Larger Men, that have had amazing sessions.. I have also had Thin/average body type have session that were forced.. not comfortable.. It is all about creating a comfort level so any client has an amazing time in front of your camera.. Let the session/client help create the flow and angles. Have fun with them, and they will have fun with you.. in turn they will have amazing shots and love them! Check out my sexy self shots on the facebook page.. Those ladies all ROCKED the sessions and they were all not your average "model" type.
    Have a great day everyone.. and honestly life is too short to get so up in arms.. Smile lots and laugh often..

  • Tami jean

    May 24, 2011 03:20 am

    I am a BBW ~ I am a photographer! {BBW= BIG BEAUTIFUL WOMAN} I photograph all body types.. the photo is not in the body it is in the soul.. the eyes. I try to find the comfort level that allows AMAZING photos ~ not hiding who they are but bring out who they are.. Difficulty in front of the camera comes in all shapes and sizes though.. I have had some amazing BBW gals and {I am not even sure what word to use to prevent craziness} Larger Men, that have had amazing sessions.. I have also had Thin/average body type have session that were forced.. not comfortable.. It is all about creating a comfort level so any client has an amazing time in front of your camera.. Let the session/client help create the flow and angles. Have fun with them, and they will have fun with you.. in turn they will have amazing shots and love them! Check out my sexy self shots on the facebook page.. Those ladies all ROCKED the sessions and they were all not your average "model" type.
    Have a great day everyone.. and honestly life is too short to get so up in arms.. Smile lots and laugh often.. [eimg url='https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Hg8pyPxppmgSjCxsthgOiVNezMu8nsKhDNkWi3z_BaA?feat=directlink' title='Hg8pyPxppmgSjCxsthgOiVNezMu8nsKhDNkWi3z_BaA?feat=directlink']

  • Olga Fuller

    May 24, 2011 03:15 am

    Sable and Phoenix said it best. And to the author of this article I hope all your clients have a chance to read this article and find out how you REALLY see them before they make the mistake of booking with you. I would never insult and stereotype my clients like this. ALL of my clients are BEAUTIFUL and PERFECT the way they are.

  • Olga Fuller

    May 24, 2011 02:46 am

    Wow, this person clearly has a problem with "large people"! BAD POST. I understand using more flattering angles, I. Do that for everybody mo matter what size, color or ethnicity. But the rest was just insulting. Just the name of the article is hurtful to me. She could have said "larger" subjects or "curvy" subjects. But instead she names and writes this post as pretty much saying "how to make obese people look normal by not showing their fatrolls and hiding them behind other, more beautiful people." Seriously! This makes me mad!

  • Kina Williams

    May 24, 2011 12:29 am

    @Lia...thanks so much! I do have many loyal clients that trust me to be sensitive to their own body issues, and to be understanding and non-judgemental. Including the previous editor in chief of Curve Magazine- Diane Anderson-Minshall. She hired me as her personal photographer in 2005 because she is fat and she loved working with me, and she loved seeing herself in my photos. My website is currently down, but if you google my name and portland oregon, many links will show up regarding my work in the fat community. (and for the record...fat isn't a bad word, unless you use it in a derogatory fashion intending to be hateful) Here is an album of a session I did with a singing group called the B.B. Dolls here in Portland OR. And YES...I did the unthinkable and shot some with an "up-angle"...GASP!...rules are meant to be broken...and sometimes it works (and sometimes it doesn't...but it doesn't hurt to try!) During the session they expressed a little concern about the "upangle" shots, but because they trusted me, they didn't object to my taking them, and also highly approved the ones that turned out well...the ones that didn't, disappeared forever. That is the kind of relationship I want to have with ANY client. As a result of this particular shoot I gained 2 repeat and regular clients!

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.147007661520.130892.727961520&l=fcd8a0a29f

    The fact is...If you have never been fat/obese/overweight/thick/large/chunky...whatever word you want to use...you will NEVER understand what it feels like to see a photo of yourself where you are finally able to SEE YOURSELF...not just how fat you are. That moment is truly a beautiful moment and I believe it does help pave the way toward a more accepting and loving attitude of our own bodies...regardless of size!!! Skinny/small/thin women have body issues too...but they are different!! the keyword here is DIFFERENT!! In that regard...fat bodies ARE different than smaller bodies. They come in all kinds of shapes and curves, and I feel that the bottom line here is that as professional photographers, it is our job to BE professional and to educate ourselves to take the best photos possible of a subject that we may be unfamiliar shooting.

    I'm kinda amazed at how hateful people are being in this comment thread...If you're judging Elizabeth for writing about a controversial topic, then I feel like you have no business being behind the lens...cuz your judgements WILL show through in your photography...this website is about learning and growing as photographers... Elizabeth took on a subject that obviously stirs up lot of emotions....but if we all stopped to think about WHY she wrote it, then we would all realize that she is just trying to do the best she can to help educate others on the different types of portrait photography that exists in this world. Diversity is a GOOD thing!!

  • 4msetr

    May 22, 2011 10:07 am

    I'm not a photographer, just getting into it so I'm reading much to learn and see. Think their is a lot of good points in here so thanks. But I have studied architecture, drafting, painting and its been part of my life as I've been in construction, so I understand proportions, color, lighting, angles and lines.
    I believe that the brick walls horizontal lines do not help. The groom is taller and if he stood up taller and closer and not hunched would have lengthen the picture and the bride. The bride could have held something like a single long stem rose to lengthen the shot and the picture taken with more height than width would also create more length than width. Its not about size, its about perception. I don't know, what do you think?
    I will say they pic tells a nice story in itself which is what its all about anyways.

  • TSchulz

    May 21, 2011 11:05 am

    Wow! I'm really surprised at how vehemently negative some of these comments are and how some folks even take this article a bit out of context. Even after she started off saying she discusses body image with any of her clients, whether larger or not. I mean, saying this article is insulting by it's very existence it kind of extreme.

    Let's face it...there are "larger" people out there who are concerned about their image in photos. I'm one of them. I have only a handful of pictures of myself and have always hated having my picture taken do to being...ummm..."slightly misproportioned". I would personally find recommendations from a photographer on how to pose to best flatter me in my pictures to be very helpful and welcomed.

  • Moiree

    May 21, 2011 10:57 am

    I found this article really useful, thank you Elizabeth. I am overweight myself, and I see no reason why someone should take offense in this article. It's their choice, but I can't see the point, really. People come in different shapes and sizes, a good photographer adapts in order to make them look their best, and this does require different approaches. That being said, I am a beginner with photography, but all the books on shooting weddings, portraiture and the likes that I've read suggest methods how to photograph larger people. As another poster said, the purpose is, eventually, not to make them look larger than they are. And I never, ever heard someone on the larger side complaining the photographer made them look thinner than they are. On the contrary!

  • Lia

    May 21, 2011 09:33 am

    Right on Kina, such a great attitude! I bet you have a fabulous following of very loyal clients! I'd love to see some of your work. Did I miss a link to your portfolio?

    Jennifer, good luck on your wedding shoot tomorrow, can't wait to see the results.

    Veronica thank you, much appreciated. I agree, you almost need to be a curvy girl to know instinctively what to avoid/what to accentuate in photos to make your subject look divine. Everyone else has to work for it! :)

  • Madison Raine

    May 21, 2011 07:16 am

    @ Irene, I like what you wrote, hopefully others will notice that you said "... as I have photographed some larger women and get asked with every shoot to please make them look beautiful..." and NOT "make me look smaller", some of these people are absurd.
    And I checked out the link that came up when I clicked your name, your very talented :)

  • Madison Raine

    May 21, 2011 07:10 am

    TO ALL:
    I believe a lot of you are loosing focus, and aren't thinking of the article, you guys are focusing on only the replies, and are focusing on the words such as "larger" and "overweight". I think if your having such a problem with this article you are not comfortable with your body; so don't blame the article, it's simply here to help photographers.
    Like I said before, my mom got wedding pictures done and the way the angle was it made her look larger than she already was, yes she is a large women but she doesn't want to look like she has extra chins when she doesn't have extra chins in real life.
    BUT,
    when she weighed 110 pounds, she even had problems with pictures, she was comfortable with her body as she also is now, but because of the angles she looked plain out weird.
    It's all about the angles! Every model is different and so is every photo,
    sometimes certain angles just don't work like they do for others.
    This article is not being mean, calling any one fat, or hating on the 2/3rds of our country that is overweight.
    Now a days everyone wants to look thinner, few are comfortable with their bodies.
    This article is NOT saying, that this was you can make them look "smaller" it's simply just giving suggestions.
    I wish you ALL would stop hating.
    This is a very good article, and I appreciate the author for writing it!
    If you guys don't like it, and are upset then don't read it, ignore it, move on to a different article.

    Sincerely
    Madison Raine

  • Madison Raine

    May 21, 2011 04:41 am

    @ Liza, my word your taking this out of portion. I never said ugly. my mother is a larger one and she is very comfortable with her body, but when she got her wedding pictures done she wasn't happy because an amiture photographer took bad angles of her and made her look bigger than she already was, we still all think she looks beautiful in them, but the angle makes he look larger.
    There is nothing mean being said here. I didn't direct that anyone was unappealing, I'm just speaking from life experiences and from how others feel. Breathe.
    This article is very helpful! Not an insult! Theres bad angles for all different kinds of people. We aren't making it like a racism thing of weight people look bad in pictures because of angles.
    See this article is good, now I can take pictures of my larger family, beings somewhat new a photographing people besides a few, this is helpful.
    Please don't be upset.

    @angie j ---YAY FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • mariann

    May 21, 2011 02:15 am

    @ Lisa - i love you ;) I'm also opting out of this as well. Seems as though a lot of the people here are prejudice and I don't want to associate my self w/ this.

  • david

    May 21, 2011 01:05 am

    I shot a wedding of a smaller guy and bigger woman. I didn't once think about her weight. I just shot photos that I thought would look nice. I guess that's me being the amateur that I am, go figure.

  • Kennard

    May 21, 2011 12:16 am

    love you all. thanks elizabeth for stirring the blood and thinking cells. love you angle and friends. keep the faith and take Godly pics and be blessed. TrinityWorks Photos.

  • Angie J

    May 20, 2011 09:22 pm

    @Kennard - you read my mind. It took me a while to realize I had to alter aperture when taking pics of people of color -including myself. For me, this post was no different than a post on how to photograph children (or any other "how to" post). As I stated earlier, I'm a big girl. I did not find this post offensive at all. But to each his own. Everyone is allowed their own opinion. And others don't have to agree with it. Elizabeth - Thanks for this post. I appreciated it!
    It's Friday in the states! Everyone have a great weekend!!!

  • Irene

    May 20, 2011 05:10 pm

    Liza I have seen so many articles concentrating on all aspects of portraiture - not just size. How to photograph someone with a larger nose, no chin, double chin, round face, thin face etc. Not all larger people feel the way you do and I have yet to meet one who will say "make me look larger please" which may just happen should the method you mention above be applied.
    Thank you for the article as I have photographed some larger women and get asked with every shoot to please make them look beautiful - their request... my duty.

  • Elizabeth Halford

    May 20, 2011 04:23 pm

    @Troy: Thank you! That was the point of the title because people are Googling it and they need to see that there's an answer to their wonderings! :)

  • TSchulz

    May 20, 2011 12:23 pm

    Ah, Elizabeth, I think I love you. Really though, you are one of my favorite photographers and the one I look forward to reading here the most. You always offer such practical advice and always in such a pleasant manner. I may be the opposite opinion of many here, but you post title was EXACTLY what I happened to be looking for right when I needed it. I'm shooting my first couple weddings next month and I'm totally nervous. One of the brides is a little on the "plus side" and wants me to "make her look good". While I don't think that will be too hard (she's gorgeous), I didn't want to make her look bad either by shooting at wrong angles, etc. From a picture I saw of her fiance, he looks to be a little, uh, well built himself. I also read your other post you linked to. Your comment about shooting groups and setting the aperture for how many people you have in the group was genius. I've never heard that and I'd never have thought to do that.

    Please keep the great content coming. As I said I really love your work and appreciate the time you put into sharing with the community in the midst of what I'm sure is a very busy schedule.

  • Liza

    May 20, 2011 12:09 pm

    No, I won't "lighten up." It's offensive to treat people differently based on size. FULL STOP.

    The method is the same no matter who you are shooting. Find composition you like and shoot it. That's it. We don't need a whole article pointing out how different fat people are.

  • Kim

    May 20, 2011 11:43 am

    This is one of the most unprofessional threads I've read. I'm a plus size woman and I would find many of the techniques discussed at least embarrassing and possibly humiliating. I'd rather look like me, large, than like a person who isn't me no matter how much more aesthetically pleasing that image might be.

    Regarding wedding photos, those photos involve family. Family isn't stupid and my family likes to talk. To be posed behind people or things or shot only in certain angles/positions would call a great deal of attention to what the photographer is doing. The majority of family would comment on it and spend the reception gossiping about it. God forbid you verbalize that you are looking for a more flattering angle or that I'm difficult to shoot, my mom would look at my wedding photos and that is all she would ever say about them. My family isn't odd. Many fat women have the same kind of families and have to navigate the same sticking points in their relationships. I think that many of commenters on this post here would communicate their negative feelings about my body and the challenge, just by the way they are discussing it here.

    If you think I'm different, you will treat me differently. On my wedding day or any day I intend to commemorate with a portrait, the last thing I want is to be made aware of how fat I am and how challenging that makes it for people to find me attractive, even when they know me at this size and love me already.

    Wait! Why would someone who loves me already news to see differently? They don't. The only ones worrying about it here are strangers that want to be paid to photograph me.

    Thank you for showing me what one of the most important questions is that I should ask of any photographer I intend to hire: when you look at me what do you see? If the answer is about disguising my body size, I'll know you're not right for me.

  • Rodel

    May 20, 2011 11:41 am

    On my first glance on the sample pic of this article, I immediately saw the smile and a relaxed couple. This is something that had overcome to notice the size of her body.

  • Cécile

    May 20, 2011 11:40 am

    Ouah considering most of the answers it seems it is a sensitiv issue!
    My personal idea on the topic is that I have noticed that most plus size women are well in their bodies and that the problem is not there. The most sensitive ones are the ones who found themselves big no matter their size from petite (they can appear slim for us but in their mind they feel big) to plus size. In this context those tips are important and a gentle and subtle talk ( you do not want the person to loose confidence or be afraid of the camera!) beforehand is primordial. Everybody is different and everyone has some issues with apparences and not only related to weight and their feeling must be aknowledge not our perception of themselves.

  • Kennard

    May 20, 2011 11:26 am

    To my sister photog.. Give peace a chance. The art of photography is an open book. Don't be offended by this DPS post. some of us are trying to find a complementy angle for people of sz big or small. Just like chaging your app for people of color so WE don't come out looking like coal. LOL Lighten up Liza!!! Help us understand as you have about ur feelings and points of intrest to be better at what we do. As Stevie Wonder would say, I love you, just the way are. Much love

  • Elizabeth Sestito

    May 20, 2011 10:49 am

    This article is offensive and poorly written. I am insulted to think that this even needs to be in print! People are people no matter what size, shape, color and should be photographed to look like who they are.

  • Liza

    May 20, 2011 10:37 am

    "some angles are fine on thinner people, but on larger people it’s unappealing and makes them look larger than they already are."

    The very notion that fat people need to be made to look smaller or else they look "unappealing" is what I find offensive. It's not just this post, of course, our entire society has fallen prey to this sick notion. Larger does not equal uglier or anything negative. Being large is OK, people should be celebrated and photographed for who they are, not for some twisted concept of who they should be.

  • Madison Raine

    May 20, 2011 10:32 am

    @ Liza, there is nothing mean being said in the article! it's just an article to help those who can't figure out how to take picture of those over weight. because some angles are fine on thinner people, but on larger people it's unappealing and makes them look larger than they already are. this article is just trying to help people, such as myself, I have larger family members and being a so I wanted to know how to take pictures of them. Yes,some angles look bad for anyone, but not always.
    Please don't hate on DPS. It's all for good.

  • Liza

    May 20, 2011 10:22 am

    Oh, I forgot to add: thanks to this article, I have unsubscribed from the DPS emails altogether.

  • Liza

    May 20, 2011 10:21 am

    As a fat woman, I find this article degrading and offensive. You should apply the same principle to people of all sizes -- find an angle or composition you like and shoot. If you think your subject needs to be a special case or be hidden, then you shouldn't be photographing them. Respect the client enough to bow out and let them fint a photographer who will treat them right.

  • Kennard

    May 20, 2011 06:23 am

    @ angie, as history recorders, we do know what's best for most clients, but if they want to lay in the grass or even eat it, I'll fix it to the point where we will laugh at it or love it. LOL keep smilin big girl, It's always great to get feedback. (no pun intended) : ) much love, kj

  • Madison Raine

    May 20, 2011 06:21 am

    @Angie J, I'm happy it all worked out in the end. I've never taken a picture of a larger person, I've only photographed a few people. The laying in the grass thing always works, it's like magic, I did it for a couple, and of some girl from a banquet.

  • Madison Raine

    May 20, 2011 06:18 am

    @Kennard Um no problem. I just know if when I get older if I become larger I would not dare take a picture of myself from that angle. Perhaps it works out for you though, do you have photos I can view to see what you mean? A lot of people on social networks take pictures of themselves with that angle to be cool, especially larger girls, I think it's just unappealing.
    -Madison Raine

  • Kennard

    May 20, 2011 06:08 am

    Sorry, I meant to say, do not lie!

  • Kennard

    May 20, 2011 06:06 am

    Thanks madison for your view. If a client comes to me, it;s because they believe in themselves and me. I lol because I always say pictures do lie. Thanks again for your input. kj

  • Angie J

    May 20, 2011 06:04 am

    I enjoyed this post. I'm a big girl. I knew from the title the article was about plus-size people. If larger meant taller, I would imagine the title would have read "photographing tall people". Nevertheless, for what you were trying to say (regardless of what pic you posted),I got it and thanks!

    About 2 years ago I photographed a group of ladies for their "girls day out". One of ladies was a big girl. She had absolutely no problem with her size. Even so far as laying in the grass. I didn't think that was a good look at all (and it DID make her look bigger) but, hey, that's what she wanted. If she had asked me prior to make her look smaller (or at least not as big), when she went to lay in the grass.. I would've told her that wasn't a good move. BTW... she loved her laying in the grass picture. :)

    Cheers everyone!

  • Madison Raine

    May 20, 2011 05:20 am

    @bryan, I clicked your name, and a page opened up so I believe it's of all your work. It's very very good. I like it. Especially the wedding picture, of the women in her wedding gown on the rock, my favorite. And also of the wedding couple in the alley way between two buildings, You very talented.

  • Madison Raine

    May 20, 2011 05:11 am

    @Kennard, I'm not sure that is completely a good idea. A family members of mine got married a few years ago, and she and her husband are a bit larger than average, anyways the photographer kept getting pictures from horrible angles, mainly from going down below them going up, like you said. Most larger women aren't comfortable with their body, they may lie and say they are, but anyways they're going to fake a smile to get the shot down with. Back to the story, all the pictures were horrible, she can't hang up any because they all make her look as if she has 3 chins, it's just not good to take photos of larger people from that kind of position/ angle, it's going to make them larger than they really are. Rarely does that position/ angle does it come out looking nice. A women (myself being one) isn't going to want a photo that shows how large they are even if they are confident, they are going to want a photo of themselves looking lets say more fitting, more average size, same goes for people underweight, they don't want that to stand out.
    Sincerely
    Madison Raine

  • Kennard

    May 20, 2011 05:00 am

    I shoot a lot of big people (women manly) The idea that they are not comfortable about who they are is nuts. They/I embrace it! God made us in all shapes, sizes and colors. My best shots are from their chest up capturing the confidence of who they are. When shooting full shots I almost always leave the subject w/ open space to either side, giving an illusion of created space leading your eyes to the main subject. I hope this helps. (TrinityWorks Photography in NEPA)

  • Jennifer

    May 20, 2011 04:18 am

    BTW, I just saw these photos on Wayne Yuan's website. Look at the engagement photos of Liz/Tom for some excellent examples of photographing a curvy lady.
    http://www.wayneyuan.com/

  • Jennifer

    May 20, 2011 04:16 am

    This article gave me a few things to think about. I am doing a wedding shoot tomorrow and the whole family is both large and tall. I have actually not had much experience photographing larger people (I photograph children, mostly), but I'll use the tips of not taking the pictures from a low angle and turning the body at an angle and all of Lia's advice. These flatter smaller people, too, so I imagine they'll work beautifully on my larger, taller clients. Thanks! I'll post some of the pictures next week and you can all tell me how I did. :0)

  • Tom

    May 20, 2011 03:43 am

    I like the article because it admits that "large" folks may present a challenge for us. I've struggled with this for years, as I have a good friend who is heavyset, she knows it, and she doesn't particularly like being photographed. On the other hand, she's drop-dead gorgeous (I was not paid to say that), and I like taking pictures of her. I've used many of the tactics described in the article. I've also concentrated on her face - particularly her eyes and smile - and have taken candids of her with whatever "prop" is holding her attention at a particular moment. If she's looking up at a bird in a tree, for example, I'll try to include the bird in the shot. Doing something like that tends to paint a picture for the viewer. Instead of putting all of their attention on my friend, they take in the whole scene - a pretty lady looking at a bird.

    She told me not too long ago that she liked having me photograph her because, "yours are the only pictures that I look good in."

    That comment made my year. :)

  • Angela

    May 20, 2011 03:30 am

    Love the article, and the comments! With family members of all sizes (male and female) I agree there's good tips here. Also important is the clothing they are wearing! Anything too tight will increase visibility of "rolls" or straps digging in, or gaps in a button-front. But you wouldn't want them hiding in a tent either. Simple, classic clothing that fits well and is a non-obtrusive color or pattern will always bring the focus back to a smiling face and relaxed posture.

  • Veronica

    May 20, 2011 02:39 am

    To lia,
    I'd have to say that your post was the best one here! The whole point of portrat photography is to take shots that make your subject feel great. You are absolutely right about shading under the chin, shooting from angles that play up flattering features (beautiful eyes, etc), avoiding full face shots and placing half of the body outside of the frame. Another helpful one would be to position a rubenesque woman just partly behind her husband or her child or some other object in the photo, thus hiding any portion of her body she may not be comfortable with (like a tummy, etc). Positioning like that can also create mood, like drama, mystique or playfulness to a photo. I am a "curvy" woman myself and I hate photos shot at angles, etc. that make me look even bigger than I am or show rolls, etc. I much prefer shots that don't expose any rolls or any other unflattering aspects. People enjoy photos that make them look their best and they appreciate a photographer who works to make that happen (while being kind and considerate of their feelings during the process).

  • Kristie

    May 20, 2011 02:37 am

    @Jennifer: Hear, hear! For everyone: Typically, the point of a portrait session is to accentuate what features the subject wants others to focus on - their eyes, smile, charm, happiness, winning personality, etc - not their size or lack of it. It just so happens that an unusual size or shape tends to easily and naturally dominate a photo, when really there is so much more to illuminate of a person. It's a simple reality of graphic design and composition - even cartoonists utilize techniques talked about here to emphasize or de-emphasize the size of their characters in certain situations. Of course there are cases in photography where people might prefer to be recognized by their size or shape, which is why it is important to have a sensitive way of finding out what your subject wants you to focus on. All body shapes require different compensation techniques in order to get the point across in the way your subject wants.

    Personally, no matter what size I am, I do not want my size to be the main attribute of a professional photo, and I would want the photographer to know that! There are more significant things to focus on, and I expect a photographer to be able to do that no matter what my size may be.

  • Kina Williams

    May 20, 2011 02:25 am

    I'm glad you wrote about this topic Elizabeth. I have spent the majority of my 10+ year photog career focusing on photographing fat girls/women. Every single session started with a conversation...I start with "what do you LOVE about your body?". Unfortunately in our society is is sooo easy to tell others what we hate about ourselves regardless of our physical size. I have found great success in getting my clients to talk about what they love first...and then working as a photographer to highlight their strengths in posing and wardrobe, and keeping the "problem area's" (self defined) minimized during the session. There are, of course, standard "tricks" in "slimming down" any body type ...but ultimately I have found great success in my shoots when I pose a client, and compose an image, that plays to what the client already loves about themselves...the most frequent things I have heard is "I love my breasts/cleavage", "I love my ass", "I love my legs". When I focus on the things they love about themselves, and pose accordingly, then they typically love looking at themselves in that image....and ultimately THAT is the goal! :D I also would like to say that it is important for photographers who typically work with skinny girls, or pro models, to understand that fat bodies just don't move the same way, and there are physical limitations that come along with that. Understanding how your client can comfortably pose is also crucial in helping them feel comfortable during the session...and we all know how important that is!

  • Milo

    May 20, 2011 02:21 am

    "cause them to believe that their either larger or smaller than they are. You can tastefully discuss body image with them client"

    Just thought I would mention these typos so they can be fixed. I, for one, think this post is helpful rather than offensive. I would add that hard lighting (flash especially) tends not to flatter subjects.

  • Sable

    May 20, 2011 02:08 am

    As a boudoir photographer, I prefer shooting larger women. Anyone can shoot a flawlessly skinned, model type that look like she just stepped off the cover of Maxim and ended up in your studio. Those types of models practically shoot themselves, and it's a good way for lazy photogs to make a buck. As a photographer, and more so as an artist, I'm looking to impact people's lives and the world around me.

    My first shoot was a plus sized woman who, after the sesion, broke down in tears. I was packing up my gear, and she was looking at the laptop at some of the raw shots and was overwhelmed with happiness. It was a happy accident as I don't generally show raw images. All of her life she had been treated as "less than." Less than pretty. Less than desirable. Less than worthy.

    She saw those photos and for the first time, realized how absolutely beautiful she was. It made a profound impact on her, and her reaction did the same for me. It's a moment I will remember the rest of my life.

    Connect with your models and capture their truth. If it's their fantasy wedding, find their inner princess, if it's boudoir, shoot in ways to capture their sexiness. If it's edgy street photography, find hardness in their lines. To do otherwise, is to take snapshots, not photographs.

  • Phoenix

    May 20, 2011 01:58 am

    Seriously? Fat or thin, tall or short, young or old, it is the photographer's job to discern her client's needs and offer services that fit that need. Half of you seem to think it is important to "hide" the fat person in some way... Hello! That fat person is in your studio because they want a photo of themselves, now, as they are! How foolish and rude for you make assumptions about the needs and desires of your clients before learning about them and their unique needs. Has it ever occurred to you that the model may be quite pleased with his appearance and not desire your clever half-concealed, out of focus shots that have been photoshopped to death? Our responsibility as portrait photographers is to help our clients reveal that part of themselves that they most wish to share with the world... not to judge or make assumptions about them based on appearance alone. There is more to the work of a photographer than just taking pictures.

  • LL

    May 20, 2011 01:38 am

    Not cool.

    We don't need another way in which fat people are othered. Shoot everyone from the angle you think looks best, be nice to them and make them comfortable. That has nothing to do with size. Fat people aren't special cases or obstacles, they're people and should be treated as such.

    This entire article is offensive for its very existence.

  • PaulC

    May 20, 2011 01:34 am

    Elizabeth - Thanks for the great tips. Personally, I like the examples you've posted and really think it works as you'd intended. That can be a tricky situation no matter how you slice it...

  • Nikki

    May 19, 2011 05:45 am

    When all else fails, there is always the "liquify" tool in Photoshop. :-P

  • bryan

    May 18, 2011 02:32 am

    I think the posing is the strongest tool

  • bryan

    May 18, 2011 02:32 am

    I think the posing is the strongest tool

  • Lia

    May 18, 2011 02:03 am

    I still consider myself a novice, I don't shoot in auto-everything and I challenge myself by shooting in natural and low light settings but I still struggle with the technical aspect of photography--my point being, I'm no expert in photography and on any other subject I would probably keep quite. With that said, though I will say I DO have a lot of experience shooting a beautiful, sexy woman who is all curves and proud of it. This is not to say there aren't things about her body she doesn't like, but I have learned quite well how to shoot her so that the negatives are minimized and the focus is on her gorgeous cheekbones and other assets.

    Here are a few things I keep in mind while shooting. Using lighting to shade the chin area is one of my favorites. I'm a big girl myself and HATE the double chin shots...so I am seriously conscious of that. However, AVOID shadows in places that accentuate negatives--dare I say 'rolls' in this PC world? Never ever shoot full face (doesn't look good for anyone, but even worse for fuller faces) or from below. Finding angles that play up cheekbones or other features; lovely eyes, luscious lips, the curve of her waist and hip, a wayward curl across the face...you get the idea...is another. It's also helpful to use composition to your advantage--placing half the body outside the frame view is one I find useful, it offers an interesting composition and makes your subject look amazing. Creating a mood is a definite must, getting your subject to feel confident and relaxed is most important---the best way to do that is to avoid judging them for their size.

    If you just find rubenesque bodies unappealing, my advice would be, don't take any jobs that require you to work with them because your judgment of those people will definitely come through in your work.

    For the rest of you, go find some lovely curvy girls to shoot--you'll be glad you did! The best compliment you can get is "Wow! You made me look so beautiful!" :)

  • Elizabeth Halford

    May 17, 2011 09:21 pm

    @jennifer: "it's not about making us look smaller, it's about not making us look bigger". Oh, Jennifer that's the most perfect way to put it - thank you for sharing that!

  • Tanya

    May 17, 2011 04:28 pm

    I think this was a great article to read. When photographing my friends, I really want to capture how gorgeous they are in a way that can be recognised by people who dont know them.

    Without some basic skills like the ones described, it is very easy to mess up and accentuate parts of people you didnt wish to.

  • Jennifer

    May 17, 2011 02:25 pm

    I think this is a great post. I, myself, am a larger woman. I HATE when people take pics from a low angle of me. I don't know how many times I have said...It's all about the angles baby! And it's not necessarily about making us look smaller, it's about not making us look bigger. Focusing on the connection of emotion with couples or a persons personality and capturing that all while at a flattering angle is what it's all about.

  • SJCT

    May 17, 2011 01:30 pm

    @niresangwa

    I think your post is way off base. You're telling people that they have to "grow up" because they don't like the way a particular photo is composed? I really don't get where you're coming from. The author made a statement that some of us didn't agree with. So, we had a discussion about it, albeit a written one on an online forum, but a discussion none the less. We voiced our opinions. That's the beauty of the internet; everyone gets to chip in their two cents, like it or not. No one made any personal attacks or threw any mud (okay, someone made a statement about the author's motivations being driven by her femininity, but that was the exception, not the norm). In my world, that's exactly what "grown ups" do.

  • fortunato_uno

    May 17, 2011 12:50 pm

    I'm a little taken by this article. My first thought is about calling some one large. I thought you were talking about large people as in height. To call obese people large is a little bit on the politically correct side, and I guess that's all right but, you call thin people skinny. How is that even right. I have been skinny my whole life, and I'm o.k. with that. I'm just more active then most. I have even had a ton (no pun intended) of "fat" friends. They knew I was skinny and I knew they were fat. so why if you are going to call people skinny instead of thin, you aren't calling a fat person fat?

    Enough of defending my fellow skinny (thin) people. I think you have basically told people how to hide the fat people. Your best tip is the use of a zoom to compress the image. That is the advice I found (in older posts) to be the most useful. Many of the fat people I know and have shot are o.k. with their size, and would be upset at being hidden (I'll give you points for mentioning the disconnect with their own size). I would also add that you can have them turn (this works well with women) so that their shape is a little less pronounced, Maybe even try playing with light a little. You could have them in a light that makes them more curvy.

    Guess I should say all in all it's not a bad article (not your best, but helpful to some), I just hope next time it will really be an article about shooting "large people". They are after all a bit of a challenge in their own right (what with the effect they cause on perspective). Thanks For the article. Hope I didn't ruffle to many feathers with calling the kettle black.

  • happyspace

    May 17, 2011 10:00 am

    Thanks Elizabeth for this one. The best bits for me were the honesty and making people feel comfortable tips. Although I would have to agree with a previous commenter that scheduling a photo shoot does not necessarily mean confidence, they might feel they have to do it etc.

    (For what it's worth, I liked the original photo. And for all those who have been critiquing it, that photo would just be one shot of many for a wedding package. Naturally there would be some with the focus on the bride only (or the groom only). Plus, the groom in the background is part of the "story" of the photo.)

  • Madison Raine

    May 17, 2011 09:04 am

    When your photographing a larger person, you should make sure they have their held high and not down into them so they look like a turtle, because then they will appear to have a double chin, even on skinny people. Also you probably shouldn't take a picture of their whole body just standing their. This is just my opinions.

  • Madison Raine

    May 17, 2011 09:01 am

    @Peter. I'm sure the photographer set them so that the first thing they notice isn't that the women is large but that they are happy. It's not because the photographer is women so she put the guy turned away, I'm sure if it was the other way and the guy was larger, the women would have her back turned instead.

  • William Raven

    May 17, 2011 04:26 am

    Well... If the subject it's fat... there is just as much as you can do to hide it. You can't make miracles so don't try it. Just make sure the person is confortable and show them your work before it goes public.

  • Erik Kerstenbeck

    May 17, 2011 04:17 am

    Hi

    Here is another shot from another wedding - not sure of this one worked. It was an attempt to capture the grandeur of the scene in this little church in San Diego

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/image-of-the-day-wedding-in-little-italy-san-diego/

  • Kelly C.

    May 17, 2011 03:46 am

    Some people will always have to hate. Usually the same people who are too caught up with what gear you have, what software doe you use...ect. Thanks for writing the tips to help those with a goal of taking good photos...in any situation.

  • M

    May 17, 2011 03:44 am

    God, I really hope the bride allowed you to use her photo in this context.

    And I agree with the above comment that the above photo accentuates the bride and groom's size difference.

  • Niresangwa

    May 17, 2011 03:22 am

    @Elizabeth.. you shouldn't have changed the image you had up. It demonstrated a legitimate technique you had brought up. The FB conversation on the shared blog post is ridiculous. I give you credit for even trying to write a post on a subject like this...

    ...maybe some of the critics on here would have preferred a shot of the groom with the bride standing 20ft behind, half behind a tree, shot at f2.8?

    It's time some folks grew up a little and realized that different considerations have to be made for different populations in order to not only best serve our clients, but also ourselves. To suggest otherwise is naive, and does no one any good at all.

  • SJCT

    May 17, 2011 02:49 am

    Yeah, thanks for the article, Elizabeth. By the way, I really like the new example photograph!

  • dianna flake

    May 17, 2011 02:45 am

    So basically you're saying that we need to make rounder individuals look smaller? Isn't that just perpetuating the stereotype that you've got to be thinner to be beautiful?

  • jkar

    May 17, 2011 02:36 am

    yah.. this article really helped. If you know some of it before, it will serve as a reminder and if you didn't know anythng about the technique then it'll be a starter tips for you. thanks for sharing this.

  • Brett W.

    May 17, 2011 02:31 am

    I can see where both sides of the argument are coming from as far as where to place the bride in example above. In the example the author gave, it kind of gives me the illusion that it could be a depth of field trick that appears to make the groom smaller than the bride. On the other hand, I would imagine that placing the bigger person in the background would make them appear to be closer in size to the person in the foreground. Although, I do agree with Wendy Mayo, that giving a quarter turn would have slimmed her a bit.

  • ScottC

    May 17, 2011 02:08 am

    and the second photo works well also!

  • Elizabeth Halford

    May 17, 2011 02:06 am

    Ok guys. I've removed the photo so you can concentrate on the actual post. And please...be nice. I wrote this to help you. Thanks!

  • ScottC

    May 17, 2011 02:06 am

    I think the photo in the article works well, we know she's a big gal but with this perspective a viewer may wonder a bit how much so (Nothing like a little doubt).

    A very interesting article, short and to the point and considerate. Either the point made: "if they’ve scheduled a photo session, they’re probably already pretty confident people", or else they've decided they must do it regardless, some forethought from the photog goes a long way.

    I'm not a portrait photographer, but I'd never post a candid if I thought the person wouldn't like what they saw:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/5581466160/

  • Mary

    May 17, 2011 02:03 am

    I have mixed emotions on the photo example. I see what you mean as the bride is probably larger in real life than she appears in the photo, but also agree with SJCT that it may just accentuate her largeness by causing her to somewhat eclipse her groom. And the separation of the bride and groom leaves me feeling as though the groom is detached from the whole thing. I wish there was a way of accomplishing this while not giving the impression that the two are not of equal importance.

  • Peter

    May 17, 2011 01:59 am

    Its a bride and groom, they are supposed to be together on this their wedding day.
    Wait until the divorce before you take pictures of them apart.
    She looks happy with her size. He's obviously happy with her size or he wouldn't have married her.
    If you're unhappy with her size, photograph her turned towards him with him slightly covering part of the side next to him.
    If you or the bride wants a "look at me, how large I am" then you have caught the perfect pose.

  • Elizabeth Halford

    May 17, 2011 01:42 am

    @peter: no it's because she was standing there when I decided to take the photo :) But thanks for stereotyping me anyway! lol

  • Peter

    May 17, 2011 01:20 am

    Is it because you are a woman, that you place the bride in the foreground and place the groom in the background to look out of focus and insignificant.

  • Wendy Mayo

    May 17, 2011 01:16 am

    I agree with SJCT. Plus photographing someone straight on like that always makes them look bigger. I always have my larger gals turned a quarter turn to the side and leaning every so slightly toward me. Try it! It works!

  • Dewan Demmer

    May 17, 2011 01:02 am

    Good advice, plain simple and honest. I think so long you are able to make the person feel comfortable you going in the right direction.

  • SJCT

    May 17, 2011 12:52 am

    I have to say that I completely disagree with the description of the example photo shown above. To me, the placement of the bride in the foreground accentuates her size as opposed to downplaying it. It puts her front and center and actually makes her look much bigger than her husband.

  • Keri Camcho

    May 17, 2011 12:39 am

    I say take pictures as normal and some of the tips above. Some large people my love themself the way they are!

  • Erik Kerstenbeck

    May 17, 2011 12:31 am

    Hi

    We have shot some larger people for pre wedding practice and it is challenging. In this shot we had the couple in white, and with the bride and groom white on white it is somewhat concealing:

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/fernandez-wedding-photos/

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