Focus on the left side – it’s more expressive
The most important thing about portraiture is to capture the essence of the person. Your subject is the key to success. Showing the most expressive part of their face helps you to capture their expressions. It seems that the left side of the face is the most pleasing to the eye. According to a study by Kelsey Blackburn and James Schirillo from Wake Forest University (USA) the left side of the face shows more expression.
Their research shows that the left side of the face is thought more pleasant than the right side of the face. They looked at how viewers rated photographs of each side of the face. They used grey-scale pictures to take out the complication of colour. They asked viewers to rate the side they found the most pleasing to look at. The research results show a preference for the left side. This may be because the left side of the face more actively expresses emotion.
Artists seem to have been ahead of the game on this one. It is interesting that great paintings and portraits by the old masters tend to show the left side of the face. Artists are known for their aesthetic eye. It seems on this point they are ahead of science on the importance of the left side.
So, there you have it. Scientific research helps your photography. Your portrait is best taken with the left side of the face shown off to an advantage.
Don’t forget to consider the whole person too. Sometimes disease, injury or the affects of age impact one side of the face more than the other. So be sensitive.
As with all principles in photography this is not a hard and fast rule. You should always discuss with your sitter what they consider to be their best side. Some people have a fixed idea about that. It is better to get their view on it than be slavish to research. If you satisfy your sitter, that is more important than following research for the sake of it.Damon is editor of Photokonnexion. He has professional experience in photography, writing, image libraries, and computing. He is an experienced web master and a trained teacher. Damon also trains digital photographers.
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By Damon Guy :: Profile on Google+.