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Portrait Photography - Skin, Love It Or Leave It?

When creating portrait photography, the issue of how much skin should or should not be shown still rages on. The debate is mostly due to fashion photography. Keep reading and find out why…

Today's photo tip is about including skin in your portrait photography.

Actually, since portrait photography generally involves the area from the chest and up, the issue of skin is mostly concerning bare arms and low cut bodices.

Here is a golden rule that you should put in your notebook right now... "In a photograph - any photograph not just portraits - the eye is immediately drawn to the lightest areas."

Now consider a typical portrait, it has a background that is usually darker than the head being photographed. So, that makes the skin from the face, arms and chest area the lightest areas.

With all that skin drawing attention, the viewer's eye is bouncing all over the place!

BTW - in a high key portrait, in our minds the background disappears. The focus shifts to the subject - and the skin is still the lightest area.

In a portrait, you want all the focus to be on the face - nothing else! But, all that skin pulls the eye away. Not to mention that the arms are generally going down and out of the photo frame and will pull the eye completely out of the photo.

In other words, you could conceivably end up with a portrait where no one actually looks at the face!

An additional negative would be that as we age we put on additional weight. For many women, the weight shows up in the arms first. No one wants a portrait that makes them look fat.

"But", I can hear you say, "all the fashion magazines show all the top models posing in skimpy outfits and showing LOTS of skin!"

They are being photographed by the top photographers, so what's up?

Keep in mind that fashion photography and portrait photography have vastly different goals.

In portrait photography, we want the attention focused on the face. Later, if the viewer can describe the clothing worn, we've failed.

In fashion photography we want the attention focused on the fashion! If no one can later identify the model, that's actually a good thing. (Except in the case of celebrity models -which is a whole different ballgame.)

So all of this has been to say - cover up the arms and chest in portraits. Your clients will like them much better!

If you are planning on going into the upcoming holidays without your camera - you are missing out on some amazing photo opportunities!

Parties, family gatherings and so on are the perfect opportunity to get some portraits where your friends and family will look at them and say, "Wow, you did that?"

It's time to finally shut down that "uber-successful" blow hard that is always bragging about the latest deal he single handedly put together that saved the company.

Believe me, he won't be able to make portraits like you, and EVERYONE would rather look at portrait photography of themselves than listen to another of his adventures! Use this photo tip starting today! For more informationFeature Articles, check out the resource box!

Article Tags: Portrait Photography

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Dan Eitreim has been a professional photographer in Southern California for over 20 years - his data base exceeds 6000 past clients, and he says that learning photography is easy, if you know a few tried and true strategies.

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