A Crouch To Suit The Composition

I invited Steve into the studio so I could create some portraits for our book, Mastering Portrait Photography. I was specifically looking to capture portraits that illustrated different angles for photographing guys.

Matching the pose to the subject and his outfit

Steve turned up wearing jeans and a jacket, so I wanted a pose that worked well with that combination. This crouch is quite striking and masculine while still being relaxed and informal, which is in line with his outfit.

I particularly like a crouch as it allows for a complete portrait (no part of the subject is cropped) but it still has a nice proportion for a standard ratio image (2:3). Steve is also an ex-footballer, and this crouch is reminiscent of poses used in team photographs, which seemed appropriate.

Placing the subject for best light and composition

Before choosing where to ask Steve to get into the crouch, I looked for the light. In this spot, the light was coming from above and to the left (as we’re looking at it). A brick wall on the right hand side is absorbing light (rather than reflecting it), creating shadow on that side of Steve’s face and body.

I chose my camera angle so that the roofline in the background acts as a frame around Steve’s head. If I was taking this again, I’d try to align the roof slightly better, so it’s more to the left, for a neater frame-within-a-frame.

I took this lying on the floor, adjusting my position with the camera to line everything up. Having the floor in the shot helps to draw your eye in towards Steve. I used a fairly long lens (170mm) to compress the perspective. This makes things in the background appear bigger than they would on a wide angle. I’m also shooting with a shallow depth of field (f/4), to give a thin slice of focus in the scene.

All of these elements – pose, composition, angle, lens choice and light – tie together to create a high-impact portrait that’s flattering, interesting and harmonious.

Location Diagram


Camera Settings

  • Focal Length: 170.0mm
  • Shutter Speed: 1/250sec
  • Aperture: f/4.0
  • ISO: 1100