Beautiful Fashion Model Photography Composition Tips
I found this beautiful, first time model and actress on MySpace. These photos are from our second photoshoot, which was her second session ever.
Even though I only saw “non-professional” MySpace photos of her, I knew right away that she had a special captivating beauty and I was very happy to get a chance to shoot with her.
Black and white versions of the images below are overlaid with either the Fibonacci spiral or the Rule Of Thirds grid. Not all compositions are perfect but I want to show examples when ignoring these rules of photography is OK.
Beautiful portrait photography at sunrise
We arrived just before sunrise around 6AM and shot until about noon. Lengthy on location photoshoots are not unusual for me, as I prefer to improvise and go by feel, which is always more time consuming than structured photoshoots.
The location consisted of a landscape of dry brush, scattered lava boulders and mangroves between Makapu’u Beach and Sandy Beach Park, two very popular local body boarding spots on the East a.k.a. Windward side of Oahu, Hawaii.
Of course compositions can dramatically be improved upon with cropping but I decided to show uncropped images as I created them in camera.
Overlaying the Rule Of Thirds grid, we can see that the off-center portrait places the model’s left eye at the grid crosshair. It is also a classic three-quarter portrait which is very flattering due to the dynamic lines created by the head turned sideways.
Jeans advertising concept with All American girl
We explored many nearby locations under very different lighting conditions and experimented with different themes from dramatic to casual i.e. pretending to shoot a denim jeans commercial. What better way to introduce this model, than with a beautiful portrait just minutes after sunrise (7:12AM). She is the quintessential all American girl next door with beauty, intelligence and confidence.
Let’s not forget she looks this incredible this early in the morning after having to get up around 5AM. She only had a chance to put on some light makeup herself using the rear view mirror of her jeep at the beach parking lot in almost complete darkness!
I think she could easily be a Ralph Lauren or Abercrombie model so I decided to do a play on a denim jeans promotional photoshoot idea.
Overlaying the Rule Of Thirds grid, we can see that even though the model’s eye or face is not at a grid intersection, her head is on the right vertical grid line. So while in the case of portraits, it is good practice to place an eye in a grid intersection, with wider angle compositions it is not applicable.
The bottom left grid cross-hair successfully marks a point of interest: the model’s hip. So even if the grid intersections don’t always perfectly line up, it is possible to end up with a balanced composition, which is in accordance with The Golden Ratio.
Jeans fashion photography with beautiful model
Now up on a lava rock … another denim jeans ad version, mixing up the angles, poses, we had to be quick on our feet and moving fast to take advantage of the warm light with its low angle because at the latitude of Hawaii sunrises (and sunsets) do not last long. The sky at daybreak created a beautifully pastel colored studio-like background.
Overlaying the Rule Of Thirds grid, we can see that several key compositional elements are at grid lines, therefore in optimal placement in accordance with The Golden Ratio. The model’s face and her hip are positioned in such way that her torso draws a diagonal line across the composition. Diagonal lines can introduce drama, excitement, movement, tension, etc.
Close-up portrait of freckled nose model
By this time the sun was up and the temperature was rising rapidly. Without assistants, reflectors and other lighting aids it was time for the usual improvisation to make the best of each location and setup – my favorite part of each photoshoot.
Intimate beautiful portrait taken in the shade of a large boulder. Amazing eye contact, not a hint of self doubt or fake emotions, models (or girls) like her are the dream of every portrait and fashion photographer.
Overlaying the Rule Of Thirds grid, we can see that the model’s left eye is just about at a grid intersection. Even a slightly off-center composition will push key elements in the frame into classic positions.
Portrait photography with Alanis Morisette look-alike
From the moment I saw this picture I always thought of it as an Alanis Morisette celebrity lookalike photo. It may not evoke the same feeling from everyone but once I realized it, I could not look at the picture any other way. We had great light for this shot and the model’s confidence really shows via her eye contact.
Overlaying the Rule Of Thirds grid, we can see that this portrait is just too centered and none of the key compositional elements are anywhere near grid intersections. An unsuccessful composition is not automatically a throw-away. If the image has merits, it may be used in the future in a cropped format.
Three quarter portrait of stunning beauty
The sun was high up at 9:46AM. Besides using open shade, another technique can prevail under these harsh light conditions: shooting against the sun and have the model backlit. The resulting effect has a dreamy, whimsical, pure, soft quality; a perfect fit for our model here:
Overlaying the Rule Of Thirds grid, we can see that the model’s left eye is at a grid cross-hair, at the optimal place in order to create a composition in accordance with The Golden Ratio. Just so happens that her collar bone is on the bottom horizontal grid line, creating – even if subconsciously – a visually pleasing arrangement.
Open shade portrait with beautiful amateur model in pink shirt
We were approaching the 10:15AM mark meaning the angle and heat of the sun were further limiting our choices lighting wise. It was time for open shade again, and this time created by the back of the model’s jeep. The sand all around the jeep reflected a large amount of soft light, creating the perfect beauty photography lighting.
Overlaying the Fibonacci spiral, we can see that one possible way that the viewer’s eyes can explore this composition is by following the edge and the collar of the model’s denim shirt and her hairline, curving across the frame.
A photo with such beautiful and enticing eye contact most likely will draw in the viewer right away to where the eyes are, but other less powerful compositions do get a benefit from lines that lead towards the most important elements.
The model’s right eye being at the end of the spiral indicates that this composition is in accordance with The Golden Ratio.
Portrait photography on bright day in open shade
Variation of the above setup can be seen next, as I am constantly moving around and coming up with new ideas. Here the model is holding onto the open back of the jeep out in the sun. I asked her to raise her arms so her face would end up in the shade that was created.
I cannot help but notice on this photo that the model has beautiful lips reminiscent of Julia Roberts and a classic symmetric face .. and we all know symmetry is beauty! The picture gains a beautiful color scheme by the repeating pink colors of the model’s shirt and lips.
Overlaying the Rule Of Thirds grid, we can see that the natural and spontaneous tilt of the model’s head assisted with creating a composition in accordance with The Golden Ratio. Not only both eyes but her chin also happens to be along a grid line.
Open shade beauty portrait photography
Another beauty shot at a different location – as we had to move around the chase the constantly disappearing open shade areas. Placing the model’s hair on one shoulder happens to dramatically change her face as new lines become visible and the composition becomes more dynamic.
Overlaying the Fibonacci spiral, we can see that the lines created by the flowing hair and the hairline of the model are drawing a path, which can be followed by the viewer’s eyes to arrive at the model’s face. Some viewers might immediately concentrate on the eyes, and some may decide to explore the frame and see how its geometry effects their viewing experience.
The end of the spiral marks an important place in the composition where the model’s eye is placed.
Overlaying the Rule Of Thirds grid, we can see that surgical precision is not vital for a composition to be in accordance with The Golden Ratio. Although judging by the grid lines this is almost a perfectly centered portrait but due to the head tilt, it becomes more exciting and dynamic.
Portrait of beautiful model with square jaw
One of the last pictures of the shoot, appropriately the hair is a bit messy looking a bit like a lion mane, and signaling that we’ve put in a good 6 hours of work and it is time to wrap! The image is still a beautiful portrait with a bit of edge, even though head-on portraits can get the familiar two dimensional look reminiscent of passport photos.
Overlaying the Rule Of Thirds grid, we can see that head-on portraits are one of the easiest to compose according to The Golden Ratio. The eyes are not in grid intersections, although can be, depending how close-up the portrait is. The eyes being on the top horizontal grid line ensures a balanced composition.