When 2 positives maybe a negative

When 2 positives maybe a negative

Just as two wrongs don’t make a right, two positives can be a negative. 

Ask most people which side is their better side and they can not only tell you, but can also explain why. It might be a bent nose, one eye is bigger than the other, or the smile if=s bigger on one side. When it comes to our faces, pretty much all of us have a positive and a negative side. As a photographer I spend a lot of time studying faces and determining the better or positive side is part of my training. I look for broken, or crooked noses, smiles that are better on one side of the face than the other, and eyes that aren’t the same size. Did you ever notice that a number of people have one eye that is higher than the other. 

Emphasize the positives. 

Why would anyone spend time looking for the flaws in someone’s face? As the song says:

You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative

Turn your head this way and tilt it that way and leave it up to me to pick both the right kind and angle of light to accentuate the positive. Tilting the head on the right angle will give the appearance of both eyes being on the same level. Either shooting into the smaller eye or highlighting the smaller eye with the lighting will give the impression of the eyes being near the same size. And yes, there are times I can’t correct everything and a decision has to be made as to what corrections will have the greatest impact on improving the portrait. 

What happens when positives and negatives get mixed up?

Years ago, at a conference the speaker told the true story of a Montreal photographer that did the graduation portraits for a university. In order to control costs and provide the most affordable pricing to the students the photographer selected the best image from the session and prepared the finished 8×10 portrait. Having sat for her portrait a young lady returned to the studio a few days after the session, accompanied be a friend. Presented with her portrait the young lady couldn’t hide her displeasure, stating in no uncertain terms ‘this doesn’t look anything like me.’ She absolutely was not going to accept or pay for such a terrible portrait. Her friend interjected and tried to tell her it was a great likeness and an excellent portrait, but the client would have no part of it. The photographer then assured the client that there was one other image that he liked and if the client would return the next day he would have that image ready for her. 

The two women returned to the photographer’s studio the next day and were presented with the replacement portrait. The client raved over the new portrait telling the photographer he should have printed that one in the first place, while her friend point blank told her she was crazy, ‘it doesn’t look anything like you.’ The photographer then explained to the ladies that it was the same portrait; he had taken the same negative and turned it over, printing it backwards. The client was now seeing herself as she had always seen her – a reversed mirror image. This wasn’t the way other people saw her, not even the friend that was with her. 

The positive and negative make a whole.

It is all too common today for someone to suggest I just photoshop their face and copy the better side of their smile to the otherwise of their face, etc. Yes, it can be done but now you have a portrait of someone that doesn’t actually exist, because it definitely isn’t you. 

Take my own portrait as an example:

My left side (the right side in the image) is my positive side. Starting at the top, the hair is a little thicker on my left side, the left eyebrow is fuller and better shaped, and the biggest difference is I somehow have a bit of a dimple on the left side (another reason not to smile too much). Yet the right eye seems a little larger and the mouth a little straighter on the negative right side. Even though the right eye might be a little larger, I prefer the shape of the left eye. 

So what would happen if I was to take a copy the positive side (left) of my face and duplicate it on the right side. 

It’s still all me, but IT DOES’NT LOOK LIKE ME.

As a professional photographer I accentuate the positives, but I cannot eliminate the negatives.  What I can to is downplay them. The result is a portrait of the real you. The you that other people see, recognize and love.

So, by all means let me know what you like and don’t like. I will do everything in my power to bring out your best features while downplaying the negatives. The result will be a great image of the real you.  

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