Jawing about Jawlines

A few days ago my wife sent me a link to a video she found. It's by Peter Hurley, a very successful celebrity headshot photographer. She thought I'd enjoy it, and being right about most everything, she was right about this.

In the video, Hurley discusses a few simple techniques for reducing double chins and unsightly folds of neck skin on your photography subjects. I knew some of these tricks, but not all of them. He also dropped some wisdom about how to make subjects more relaxed and give them usable directions to get the photo you want.

Anyway, one of the tips that was particularly effective was having your subject push his/her forehead slightly toward the camera and down. This stretches the skin on the neck, pulls in a double chin, and provides deeper relief along the jawline so you get a nicely defined jaw in the photo. In the video, you can see that it's an incredibly effective technique.

I got an impromptu chance to try it for myself. I got a last minute request to speak at a conference in Poland next month. That's very cool, but in order to do it I needed to get my passport renewed. And that meant I needed new passport photos.

A passport photo is about as plain a headshot as you can get. Straight on, no facial expression allowed except a smile. A perfect opportunity to try out Hurley's technique. Now, I didn't take my own passport photo. It would take more time and effort to set that up than to just go to the neighborhood drugstore and let them do it. So the photo you see is not my work. And it's actually an iPhone photo of the original passport photos, so the image quality is even poorer. But it's good enough for you see the results of the technique.

I have a pretty pronounced jaw already. Doing things to further emphasize it is against my natural instincts. But it works. I now have 10 years to enjoy a passport with less double chin and sagging neck skin. Although there are some lines on my neck I'd probably Photoshop out if this were an actual portrait.

Here's the video if you want to see it: