Steve Russell - Staff Photographer
"You don't need me in the picture do you?"
"Can you get rid of my second chin?"
"Try to get my good side"
"Try not to make me look too goofy"
"Can you make me look smaller"
These are a few of the requests I get all the time on assignment. Some of them from people in the public eye all the time.
Like civilians, politicians have the same concerns when a lens is pointed at them.
Unfortunate for them, being in front of cameras is part of the job.
Some politicians are naturals, Jack Layton was one of those that shone in front of the camera.
However, not every politician is that comfortable in front of the camera.
Each politician has his own nuance, Stephen Harper gives the worst thumbs up ever and Michael Ignatieff had some pretty goofy facial expressions before he toned it down.
This brings us to Mayor Rob Ford, it seems that every time we do a story on him or something at City Hall some of the comments readers have made are why do we have to run an unflattering picture of the Mayor.
It's tough, cameras are rumoured to add ten pounds to the subject. Being a guy with a high BMI, I can relate. I'm on the operational end of the camera for a reason! I think my love of taking pictures spawned from how much I dislike being in pictures.
Mayor Ford also doesn't talk to the Toronto Star, which is fine, but it does also mean that us photographers never really have opportunity to photograph him in settings where we can work around the issue and take a more flattering picture.
I never got the impression that Mayor Ford really cared too much about his weight, but, his recent "Cut the Waist" campaign shows he does. I wish him luck in the endevour. Hopefully he can shed some of the weight while in office like David Miller did.
Some tips on photographing people that are a little heavier than average?
•Try to photograph from a higher angle. Usually you just have to be slightly higher that eye height.
•If you have to shoot from a low angle, at least have the light source coming in from a higher angle. Shadows from the light will hide or minimize any double chin. Try to keep your flash off camera.
•Try to not shoot the subject sitting down and if they have to be sitting down make sure that they sit up straight.
•Selective framing, you do not have to include their entire body.
•Try a shallow depth of field, a selective focus point on the eyes and a sharp drop off in sharpness will bring the reader to the feature that is sharpest.
Here is a quick look through the Toronto Star photo archive and some of our more flattering Rob Ford pictures.