This is something I’ve been wanting to do a while now.
As a photographer, I’m obsessed with little details, especially people. Everyone has their own way of smiling, and every laugh, every frown is unique.
Character study is somewhat of an arts topic, but I’m going to be using it to explore people, but mostly to explain my understanding of what angle works best for them in a photographic sense.
I had asked Paige to see if she’d let me do a character study on her, and she said sure, so she’ll be my guinea pig for this one.
The comments on appearances will be purely objective.
This series of posts will be in a different format, as I will be explaining each shot and why it’s done that way.
To begin, I “met” Paige long before I met Paige.
I was taking photos for the FARMSA end of year event, and she was actually part of a group that participated. She even requested me to email her the pictures, but nothing registered at the time.
Later again, during Women In Math Profession Portrait Session, I had taken photos of her again, this time I had spoken to her very briefly to ask her about how she wanted to pose for the photos.
I didn’t really consider I had met Paige before I offered to teach her how to do a proper sunset photo.
I took this shot during the sunset shoot, the one thing that really stands out to me about her is her smile.
Paige’s smile seems very genuine due to the way her cheeks are structured: they puff up, her whole face lifts, and her eyes and brows curve. There are naturally forming dimples (more exaggerated on one side than the other), and she smiles uncontrollably when she speaks.
All these factors play into the strength of her features, and objectively the most wonder photos of Paige are almost always the ones where she’s smiling.
The last photo here really stands out to me, the smile is actually very complex in terms of overall structure, I had tried to recreate the expression from here using color pencils (you can check it out on her Instagram), and I was only successful after about 4-5 hours.
She’s also got a serious face. Her serious face works really well when shooting from about 45 degrees downwards from top left or top right; it shows off her eyelashes a lot better, and makes her nose look taller.
Of course, when she smiles, her nose becomes a strength of character, as it doesn’t take away from the smile itself, and it reinforces the friendly look.
If I try really hard, I can make her cheekbones show under the right lighting conditions to create the high & mighty effect. This to me seems very out of character, and it sharpens her chin and jawline quite a bit.
Paige didn’t like this photo as much, said I managed to make her into a square-face somehow.
I think it shows the other side of her: strength.
One thing you’ll definitely notice about Paige is her hairstyle.
She’s one of the few short-haired girls I know, and her stylist did a really good job with the back of her head. She hates it, but I think the extra length left allows for opportunities (in conjunction with wax) to show layers and volumes. It makes her head look a lot more 3-D, and makes her overall image a lot more memorable.
A lot of girls who have short-hair tend to also have really soft hair, which means they don’t show volume on the sides of their heads, and the result can be good or bad depending on their head shape. I have a big head, so I tend to keep my hair around the side of my head really short so my head doesn’t look even bigger.
Paige’s head is fairly suited for this layered style.
Her face is a little bit flatter than usual, so you don’t see me taking shots from the side, as they would probably turn out very unflattering. As a side effect of this, (and as a general rule for humans) I don’t shoot from a lower angle either.
I was quite impressed when she made a lower angle work in one of her selfies (check it out on her Instagram).
I think the one word to describe the strength of her character would be “friendly”. Most of the photos I have taken of her tend to reinforce this theme as well. She tends to want to become a bit more frosty than what I’m portraying her to be, and I think that she’s very well capable of it.
Then again, why be cold when you can be friendly?
She took this photo while we were eating at The Bauer Kitchen, it’s a great photo, and I think it’s appropriate to end the study by showing her own style.
Maybe I’ll do another one when I get to know her even better, if I get the chance. For now, I think this creates a good outline on what angles work well for her, and what themes work well for her.
To Paige: thanks for the opportunity!