The Nose and Jawline

While we generally think of the body when discussing posing, the face and how we position it plays a crucial role in determining whether or not we have captured a great portrait. Two facial features to pay particularly close attention to when posing a subject include the nose and jawline.

First, we want to be careful to avoid “breaking the plane” of the face with the nose. In other words, the nose should not extend beyond the frame of the subject’s face unless you are specifically shooting a side profile image. When the nose breaks the plane or frame of the face, the nose appears larger than it otherwise would.

Next, use light and angles to clearly define the jawline. Part of the reason we often ask our subjects to look toward the light is to create definition in the jawline. Just as the nose should not break the plane of the face, the jawline (not the chin) should be contained within the frame of the subject’s neck. Head shots in which the eyes, nose, and chin face the camera can reveal asymmetry in the face and they do not accentuate the jawline well. Instead, we suggest directing the subject to turn the chin to an angle that reveals the jawline while not allowing the nose to break the plane of the face.