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One of my friends wants me to take pictures of her but she is very self-conscious about her nose (which is relatively wide, Monty Python anyone?).

She wants me to take pictures in such a way as to not emphasize that particular feature.

Any tips on angle, lens and light combination would be very helpful.

Would something change if the nose were big rather wide?

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Is the the nose in question particularly WIDE, or just "protruding"? - obviously this will effect the best angles to shoot from. – Digital Lightcraft Aug 28 '12 at 16:58
The nose is wide. – Vivek Aug 28 '12 at 17:12
Long lens at a distance from head on flattens long noses. Angled shot will deemphasise wide nose. Careful photoshopping can narrow features. Getting into risky ground. Recently commented on context sensitive narrowing may help. (GIMP and CSx mentioned) Allow image to be altered in width with various features being maintained or no. here nose is part of the "or not". – Russell McMahon Aug 28 '12 at 17:55
as an aside, take a look at the pictures of Lady GaGa - she also uses makeup to emphasize her eyes and lips, and draw attention away from her nose – SeanC Aug 28 '12 at 20:28
I have a wide nose and i am in the exact same situation as your friend is me and my friend take pictures but i get anxious about it because all my friends have small noses. – user19034 Mar 29 '13 at 17:29
up vote 16 down vote accepted

You want to be shooting more or less dead on to the subject, not to the side. The rule of thumb is that the line of the nose should not 'break' the line of the cheek, and this is doubly true for nasally well-endowed subjects.

Avoid wide-angle lenses like the plague - you need to be looking at a 100-135mm lens ideally, as it will flatten the photograph somewhat.

Lighting should be very soft to prevent the nose casting tell-tale shadows. A large softbox is ideal, or if you are using natural light try fixing a thin white cloth or paper to a window to soften the light right down.

EDIT: Since you've mentioned that the subject's nose is wide, I would disregard the first point and instead shoot from an angle. I'll leave the answer as it is otherwise so both wide and long noses are catered for :)

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Marlene Dietrich was apparently very conscious of her nose, take a look at the photos on an image search and you'll see that she is almost always photographed directly facing the camera.

More interestingly look at the lighting around and the shadow under her nose. She was generally evenly lit from above and in front to flatten out the nose and provide dramatic looks.

You can duplicate this lighting setup in various ways, listed from most to least effective:

  1. Studio lights with softboxes on either side above and in line with the subject plus another light in front and above the subject.
  2. Studio lighting on either side and in front reflected off a white ceiling
  3. Bounce flash in front on either side
  4. On camera bounce flash or reflected off the ceiling

Also, note that comparing your friend to Marlene Dietrich may well soothe some of her worries.

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Use long lenses, which give you some compression and push the foreground back (the nose) and pull the background forward (the ears).

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