We’ve spent a long time thinking about the question of why some portraits feel friendlier than others and we think we’ve figured it out.
From a psychological perspective, relationships between strangers take place at a comfort level of about two to eight feet. Intimate relationships between siblings, between mother and child, between good friends and between romantic couples close the gap to a mere 18 inches.
Between the two is the everyman’s land of “personal space.” It runs from two to four feet and is used by potential new friends and potential business associates. It is more impersonal in nature so it’s strange that it is called “personal space”.
How does this relate to a business portrait? Well, if you are more than six feet away from someone, your angle of vision can comfortably take in a subject’s entire body, head to toe. If your angle of vision is coming from only 18 inches away, then you take in less of the body… To illustrate:
In other words, photos, depending on how they’re cropped, can give a false sense of intimacy to a viewer… a feeling that they know the person much better than they actually do… a feeling of “friendliness”. And that translates rather well into the viewer picking up the phone because your people look so open, friendly and approachable… even if said viewer can’t quite put their finger on why they feel that way.