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Turkey Neck, meatbeard, neck spam, gwaddle, meat scarf, cowsaddle, chin dumpling, or chinsulation… whatever you want to call it, a double chin is not flattering, and it makes your subject appear much heavier than they really are.
I’ve got some killer tips to teach you how to hide a double chin in photos and instantly take the weight off your subject. These tips will make your subjects more comfortable and they will thank you for making them look great!
All of those nicknames, BTW, I didn’t make them up, so please don’t send me hate mail. They are all listed in the Urban Thesaurus, along with a bunch more that I can’t repeat in print!
What’s the Big Deal With a Double Chin?
A double chin is a nightmare to photograph because it often makes people look heavier and even older than they really are. A skinny person can get a double chin if they tend to tuck their chin.
Everyone with a double chin hates it and is VERY aware of it when they have their picture taken.
The heavier the person is, the more impossible it can become to eliminate or hide the extra chin.
How To Hide a Double Chin in Photos – The Tips
1. The Turtle Stretch
Simply have your subject push their chin forward. This will tighten the skin on the neck and help to thin the double chin. Now, here is the catch… you can’t just tell your subject to stretch their neck or to push it forward. That rarely works. For some reason, with most people, if you ask them to push their chin forward, they will push it forward and up at the same time. Not only does this look like they are looking down at you, but you’ll be shooting up their nostrils. Watch the video below or click here to see how I give my subject directions.
Many people will still lift their chin even after showing them how to push the chin. My solution is to shoot off a bunch of frames, tell them they are doing great, and then I will ask them to relax for a moment.
I acknowledge that I am asking them to do something that feels awkward and then reassure them that it will look great! Watch the video above to see how I do it.
By taking a moment and explaining WHY I want them to do something that feels awkward, I gain their trust and willingness to do what I asked. In other words, I have made them a collaborator.
Never leave your subject guessing because the more they feel awkward, the more they become tense, which shows in their body language and facial expressions. The few minutes it takes you to explain why you ask them to do something will pay you dividends with a relaxed and confident-looking subject.
In addition to the chin, with some subjects, it helps to ask them to push their shoulders back and then move the chin forward. Go ahead and try this yourself. It is even more awkward and takes more work, so this should be a last resort.
When you use this technique, don’t make your subject do it for more than 15 seconds at a time, so they don’t get stiff. It’s better to shoot a few frames, let them relax for a few seconds, and then start over. You’ll keep the body language much more relaxed this way.
Frequently I will either raise my camera angle to slightly above their eyes or ask them to push forward and lower their chin just a tiny bit. That brings me to the second tip.
2. Shoot From Above
Any time you photograph an overweight subject, shooting from a higher camera angle will help to thin their body. This is because you essentially create an optical illusion by putting their head closer to the camera and their body further away. In the same way, we figure out the best side of a person’s face, like I do in this article.
Also, when your subject lifts their chin towards the camera, it tightens the neck muscles and has a thinning effect.
Understand that I am not suggesting extreme angles; otherwise, you just make your subject look like a caricature. I am talking about moving just a little above your subject.
Some of you want me to say that it should be six feet, a foot, or two feet — there is no rule. You have to learn to pay attention to how it makes your subject look. In other words, go practice!
One other little trick to help hide the double chin in photos — if you are shooting from above, having your subject tilt their head just a little while the chin is pushed forward will also help to hide the extra chin.
If you’re working with a makeup artist, a makeup artist can contour the jawline and darken the extra chin to make it appear thinner. A darker shade of powder, foundation, or bronzer will make the chin appear to recede. Then a little highlighter on the tip of the chin will make it seem to pop forward.
Makeup won’t make the extra chin disappear completely — but every little bit helps.
A little hair tip: For women with long hair, having their hair up or pushed back or behind the shoulders will also help thin the neck.
You can also have your subject wear a high collar.
At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that even skinny people get double chins. This is the story of what I call the “Chin Tuckers.”
The easiest way to figure out if you are working with a chin tucker is to ask your subject to lower their chin. When they do it, they will do it one of two ways.
Some people smoothly lower their chin, and it moves slightly forward in the process. Other people pull the chin in to lower it — in other words, they tuck it. This will almost always create a double chin.
When the chin is tucked, the person’s face will appear to be pulling away from the camera. Ideally, you want their face and body to feel like it is moving toward and welcoming the camera.
The solution is easy…kind of. As I suggested in the first tip, explain to them that you need the chin to travel forward. Click here to see how I explain it to my subjects.
Understand, though, that since they are a natural Chin Tucker, over 15 – 30 seconds while you are shooting, they will unconsciously begin to tuck their chin because it feels more natural to them. When that happens, give them a break, remind them that you need it to go forward, and start again.
Some Chin Tuckers have difficulty keeping their chin out for any period. In this situation, you can tweak your pose and use anatomy to your advantage.
Instead of just having the subject sit on a stool like I show in the video below, set up a second stool or chair for them to lean on.
The idea is for them to have to lean their body slightly forward. If you try this even while sitting at your desk reading this article, lean your body forward and rest on your hand or elbow, your chin automatically pushes forward, and it is harder to tuck your chin.
The bonus to this posture is that you get a nice diagonal line from the shoulders, which enhances the pose and composition of your shot.
Lighting Techniques To Hide a Double Chin in Photos
Now, I am not a big fan of altering my lighting to hide a double chin because, more often than not, you will be working with lighting that is not flattering for the rest of the image.
So the only tip I will give you for lighting is to avoid clamshell lighting, where you will have light coming from below your subject. I prefer to keep my light above, and if I am photographing someone with a double chin, I may tend to set my lights slightly — not a lot, just slightly — higher than usual.
Don’t Hide Behind Your Camera
When I give my subjects directions, I take the camera away from my face and make eye contact. I lean in, do the task myself, and give them positive feedback. In other words, I keep my subject engaged.
Also, just in case you have never tried these techniques yourself while in front of a camera… I am not kidding when I say that they can feel awkward. Set yourself in front of a mirror or, better yet, shoot a self-portrait and try your own before and after shots so that you can feel what your subject will experience and see the difference these tips make.
It requires patience and empathy if you need to hide a double chin in photos. Take your time and keep your subject relaxed and they will appreciate you for making them look their absolute best.
Hopefully, you are getting a better sense of why I don’t agree with teaching “poses” or rules for poses. Poses are STIFF and BORING.
The more you study your subject’s emotions and body language, and the more you learn to put yourself in your subject’s position and become a better communicator — the LESS you will have to pose your subjects, and the more relaxed your subjects will look in your photographs.
Have more questions about hiding a double chin in photos? Would you like to continue the conversation? Join my TOGKnowledge Photographic Community, where you will find photographers from over 30 countries passionate about learning and sharing their photography as they develop their craft.
I hope you found this information useful. Now go pick up that camera and shoot something! Because – “Your BEST shot is your NEXT shot!” — Joe Edelman
Here is a video I made titled: How to get rid of a Double Chin: Portrait Photography Posing Tips