This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
Introduction. Not all faces are suitable for profile lighting, for it is necessary that the outline of the profile of the face, to be pleasing, possess graceful curves. There are few who possess these qualifications and, therefore, the number of subjects who make pleasing profile portraits is limited.
Points To Be Considered. A profile portrait to be pleasing should not be made up of straight lines or angles; neither must one feature be out of proportion with the others, nor should the forehead or the chin recede too abruptly from the front of the face. Curved lines are always pleasing, and the more these predominate in the outline of the face, and the better the proportion of the various features, the more pleasing will be the profile outline.
Shape Of Profiles. Where the outline on the forehead, the nose, lips and chin presents straight lines, with angles at the root of the nose, the tip of the nose and on the chin, we have one form of objectionable profile. Another would exist if either the forehead or the nose or the chin were out of proportion to any of the other features. For instance, the forehead may be extremely high and its length be equal to the total length of the balance of the outline. If the forehead or the chin recedes very rapidly, the profile outline will be displeasing. The best shaped profile is one in which the length of the forehead, the length of the nose, and the distance from the nose to the tip of the chin are equal and the lines forming each of these individual features are curved and not straight or angular.
Placing The Subject For Broad Profile Lighting. When arranging the subject, place him as far from the window as consistent with the size of the light you have to contend with. Place the figure facing the light, at least partly if not entirely; then turn the face in profile from the light. Arrange the camera as close to the window as possible, so as to obtain a profile view of the subject's face without their turning the face too far from the light. In some instances, placing the subject with the back to the light, with the face turned over the shoulder towards the light, gives a very pleasing effect.
340. By varying the arrangement of light, as well as background, profile studies may be made giving a great variety of effects. It is, however, advisable to hold to one particular style of composition until that style has been thoroughly mastered, yet profile portraiture is one of those phases of photography which affords considerable variety and almost never ending change. One of the great attractions of the posing of faces in profile is, that the result shows character and portrays, to a great extent, the facial strength or weakness of the individual.
341. In full face studies we look more for a portrait, while in a profile study the aim is to secure the personality of the sitter.