I took pictures of a face and moved the camera up and down in the range of top of the head and half between top and bottom. I did not tilt the camera to point to the eyes. But the eyes looked to the camera in all cases.

I noticed that a face looks "most natural" when the camera is at the height of the eyes. The difference to taking a picture with a lower position of the camera was noticeable enough to somewhat surprise me.

I'd like to know whether there are standard rules or best practices covering the effect.
I think what I did may be "just wrong" in some technical sense?

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    the camera looking down tends to slenderize and create sympathy, looking up tends to portray importance or power. Different people look better or worse under different angles; find what makes your subject look best. – dandavis Aug 27 '18 at 21:06
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    @dandavis That seems like the great beginning of an answer. Could you please post it as one rather than as a comment? That's how this site works best. – mattdm Aug 27 '18 at 21:56
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    @Volker Any chance you could post your images to clarify your question? – osullic Aug 27 '18 at 22:10
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    Nice question. I hope this question gets some in-depth answers. – Rafael Aug 27 '18 at 23:45

Where you place the camera relative to the subject, the lighting and the lens’ focal length gives you the ability to “interpret”, say something about him or her, the subject.


  1. To denote the power of the subject you will take the photo pointing your camera slightly upwards.
  2. To denote submission you will take the photo being above and pointing slightly downwards.
  3. To denote a sinister subject you can take the photo pointing >45° upwards and having a hard light fall on the subject from a high position from your “back” (his 0°) and downward >45°.

If you are taking a normal portrait and not trying to editorialize about the subject, the most common setup is to have the lens around (you can go a few degrees lower or higher specially with telephoto lenses) the height of the noise (middle of the face) of the subject and use a telephoto lens (from 85mm to 135mm Full Frame equivalent) to avoid the distortion caused in the facial features of the subject by being too close to the the subject when you use focal lengths below the 50mm.

The longer the lenses the further away you will be from your subject and the more leeway you will have to stay in a confortable position while shooting and you will still be just a few degrees below or above the nose of the subject.

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