woman standing and pointing down at the camera Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Foreshortening: Benefits and Posing Tips in Photography

February 7, 2023

Foreshortening is an artistic photography aspect utilized in drawing art and photography. Drawing as art involves artists making subjects seem distant by using leading lines. Foreshortening in drawing improves the depth and dimensions in an art picture or portrait.

What is Foreshortening Photography?

What is foreshortening? Foreshortening in photography makes objects look bigger than they are. This aspect is mainly used in creative art genres or when a photographer needs to emphasize specific features on a subject or object.  

You can achieve foreshortening via several factors, like posing or utilizing different angles from the perspective of your subject.

girl stepping her foot towards the camera

Photo by Natalie Hua on Unsplash

So, what are the dynamics of foreshortening photography, and how do related features like poses and shot angles come into play? Read through to get complete insight, including its comparison with perspective photography.

Foreshortening vs Perspective

Perspective photography provides accurate dimensions and reality of a picture regardless of the angle utilized. Foreshortening in photos acts as a perspective aspect. The camera lens' positioning dictates the relationship between subjects in an image and distinguishes parties in a photo.

Therefore, you can be creative with your shots and lens placement to explore different perspectives through foreshortening. For instance, a photograph in front of the Eiffel tower via a low shot gives the image an artistic touch.

man pointign his hand at the top of high towel

Photo by melissamn on shutterstock

Also, you can utilize different angles while dealing with a group to depict each subject's perspective and distinguish the relationship between the parties involved.

Why is Foreshortening Important in Photography?

Foreshortening is very beneficial when used appropriately or creatively with other photography features. Therefore, it is essential to understand its dynamics, especially the practical bit, to enjoy the following benefits:

1. Enhances a photo's

The placement of different subjects in a photograph determines the photo's composition. Therefore, the features of emphasizing or deemphasizing an image feature enhance the composition of an image.

2. Increases the depth of an Image

Aiming to get the full dimensions of the subject's surroundings, including the background, helps to tell the story of your pictures better. Various angles other than the eye level give more context and create an engaging environment for viewers.

looking up of a man's big feet

Photo by Haley Lawrence on Unsplash

3. Provides different perspectives of the same shot

You can get various quality images of a model in the same spot through foreshortening photography.

For instance, you can use a low-angle shot to get a new point of view for your subject where the position provides an additional angle over the initial eye-level view.

Practical Tips for Flattering Foreshortening Poses

There are several practical ways you can achieve the mentioned benefits. The methods include positioning your subject, where their poses come into play for the perfect foreshortening photo.

Be cautious with your angles, camera, and subject placement, as it is easy to make unnoticed errors in foreshortening photography. Here are some practical tips for use in your next shoot.

1. Utilization of Low and High Angles

1)  Low Angles

Low shots are ideal for photoshoots in the city. You'll be able to tell different stories depending on the perspective used.  

looking-up view at the tall building

Photo by Maxine yang on Unsplash 

For instance, you can creatively feature tall buildings behind your subject to achieve depth in an image. This shot features your background as an essential detail but maintains your model as the main subject.  

Also, you can place your subject on higher ground or maintain a lower angle. This way, your model's lower body, including the shoes, appears larger.

2) High Angles

down angle of a standing girl

Photo by Roman Samborskyi on shutterstock

They are the opposite of low angles, where the upper body of your subject seems larger. The foreshortening technique can show someone's emotions or, like the low-angle, emphasize a factor for the audience to focus on.  

For instance, you can place your model on a swing and use the string or chain to direct the attention to the facial expressions displayed.

Also, high-angle foreshortening, with the proper camera settings, is perfect for pool photography. Therefore, you can get the details of water settling or flowing on your subject. For more artistic results, have your model display various emotions, just like in the magazines.

2. Positioning of Limbs

Different body joints' positioning impacts the general outlook of an image. They not only show the mood of your subject but also depict the point of emphasis for the viewer.

a pretty girl leaning at the wall on the street

Photo by Patrik Velich on Unsplash 

Limb positioning is influenced by the model's facial expressions or the direction of their gaze. Therefore, you should ensure that the direction your client faces compliments the limb's placement. Here are examples to help you understand better.

1) Point of View when Holding Hands in a Romantic Photoshoot

back of a girl by holding hand with the man behind the camera

Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash 

Imagine a lady accepting a marriage proposal. You can get the reaction of a lady from the action of holding hands. Her stretched arm can direct your audience to her response as she creatively uses the other on her face.

2) Fingers Stretched Toward the Camera, Plus a Blurred Background

Fingers Stretched Toward the Camera

Photo by Pintau Studio on shutterstock 

Despite being a typical foreshortening pose, it can be used for more authentic results, depending on the genre. Furthermore, you can use props like beach sand, rings, bracelets, and led lighting for night shoots.

3) Squatted In Front of a Lowly Positioned Camera

photo of a squatted man holding grapes in hand

Photo by AlexandrMusuc on shutterstock

Most people have tried this version through selfies. The quality results are similar in professional versions, where the stretching of the arm directs the view toward the subject's facial features. Therefore, aligning the subject's perspective with the respective limb positioning influences the foreshortening feature.

Additionally, the pose emphasizes certain features like footwear while focusing on the model's general outlook.

3. Create a Frame Within a Frame

A frame within a frame is an artistic approach if utilized appropriately. Get the right prop or setting with structures that act as a creative frame to start.

female headshot through a lighting stobe

Photo by Andrey Arkusha on shutterstock

For example, you can place your subject in front of a ring light and capture them through the spacing. Also, the ring can double as the key light, thus perfect for night foreshortening photography.

You can also work with what nature offers. For example, spacing between rocks on the beach areas can act as a suitable frame and is perfect for modeling photoshoots.


Understanding what is foreshortening photography helps bring out creativity, especially when appropriately executed through its dynamics. Ensure your subject maintains the proper posture and facial expression to enjoy its benefits and get optimum picture quality. To counter any associated errors, try various takes of a shot to know and understand how to eliminate them.

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