4 Tips for Shooting Photo References

1. Be candid. Spontaneous shots, especially of children, are always refreshing. If you stage your subject, make sure the pose is not only natural to the human body, but also a physical characteristic of that person. Any stiffness or tension in the human figure will be evident.

2. Circle the subject. If your model is going to pose, take pictures of the person from all angles—front, back and side. This will help you see how the limbs are bent, understand the foreshortening of body parts and resolve ambiguous areas. It also leads to a more believable, as well as interesting, composition.

3. Don’t look down on your model. When taking a photo of a model that’s shorter than you, make sure you shoot the photograph at his or her eye level.

4. Use the background to your advantage. Unless the background is relevant to the painting, don’t position the model in front of one that competes with the information you need.

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