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Low key full body portraits with rim lighting are common in photos of athletes wanting to show of their body features. Having models, thinking some features of their body features are unflattering, but at the same time wanting this kind of portraits is therefore quite the challenge.

How do I best pose the model/light the scene to hide the various "flaws" (their wording) that range from larger thighs, legs, bellies and so on?

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As Mattdm and Hugo made me realize I need new glasses Xo) I'm posting another answer.

Probably you can mask the light. I would construct a "masking box".

Masking box

This image is just a panel, but it is the general idea.

Lets say you construct a pvc pipe box 2x2x.9 mts. (the .9 mts depends on the length of black cardboard you can find) and place it a little far from your softbox (or direct light), to mask the light in different specific points. This can be time-consuming but can be interesting.

If you have several heads you can use a very directional light to specific areas, using a snoot on each one.

I would also play with the clothing and posing.

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I don't think "wanting to show off their body features" with a ring flash is necessarily true.

A flat light gives a flat shape.

In such a light you show body features with pose or with texture and reflections, for example a sweaty or oiled skin.

If you want to show muscle volume you use perhaps a backlight, a lateral light.

To hide unwanted features you can use:

1) Lighting. An overall pleasing difuse light, play with the angle, try to hide a little a scar with a low key ilumination, or a double chin with a reflector on bottom.

2) Posing. If you dont want to show a belly, don't pose the subject like he is on a weight-loss program. If he is seated, make him stretch his back.

3) Camera angle. Do you need longer legs? Lower your camera, Is his/her nose too large?, use longer focal lens.

4) Clothing. A suit that really fits the subject, a long dress, a sweater with a turtleneck, etc.

5) Not as important but background helps too, vertical stripes, columns, etc.

In short... All the elements you use in a portrait!

The most important thing is do it naturally.

All of the points are extremly complex, so you need to play and study them. There is no general recipe.

  • Rim lighting, not ring flash. – mattdm Feb 27 '15 at 19:57
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    Oops, my bad. But in general terms the answer is the same. – Rafael Feb 27 '15 at 20:01
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    @Rafael I think you might have misunderstood (or I might not have been clear) what kind of photos I meant. By low key, rim lighting I meant pictures like these. – Hugo Feb 28 '15 at 1:12
  • I misunderstood survey. My bad. – Rafael Feb 28 '15 at 17:39
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Use multiple directional light sources with narrow coverage. Unlike most portrait techniques that use the broadest, softest light that can be cast on the subject here you want to only light specific areas that you wish to emphasize and leave the less flattering features in the shadows. Think several small flashes with snoots. Light each area independently of the others.

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