Three-Point Check

After mastering the fundamentals, we must analyze body language and refinement. The old saying, “If it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t,” applies here. The trick is in understanding “why” an image doesn’t look right, and the goal is to then avoid making such mistakes.

Our first checkpoint in analyzing an images rests, interestingly enough, in a three-point check.

Roberto Valenzuela’s “Three-Point Check” system helps photographers pose their subjects with purpose by directing the subject’s awareness of the camera. The three points include the following:

  • The eyes
  • The chin/nose
  • The collarbone/chest

The look and feel of an image will depend on which of these three points are directly facing the camera. For example, if all three points are facing the camera, the image will resemble a traditional portrait. If we remove some of these points, however, such as turning the chin and eyes down and to the side, only the collarbone/chest will remain facing the camera. This will result in more of a fashionable pose that draws attention to the subject’s attire. If we turn all three points away from the camera and direct the subject to smile or engage in an action, such as laughter, the image will appear to be more candid, as if it were captured with the subject unaware of the camera.

When posing couples, we can draw attention to one subject over another by facing more of that subject’s points (eyes, chin, and chest) toward the camera, while turning more of the other subject’s points away from the camera.

The poses we place subjects in should be intentional. The subject’s expression should also match the mood of the pose and the story that a series of poses is telling.