Lazy eye, also known as wandering eye, is a common problem for photos, leaving many photographers in a sticky situation when they give their customers their photos. While some people embrace their lazy eye, others think it can completely ruin a picture. Having a lazy or wandering eye has caused many people to be self-conscious about taking photos.
A few things a photographer can do to prevent lazy eye from showing in photos is to:
- Change the subject's focus.
- Change the angle of the photo.
- Change the head or body position.
- For children, direct their focus to an object.
Over the years, photographers have developed many tips and tricks to prevent lazy eye in photos, including touching up the picture after it is taken. Whether you’re a professional, an amateur, or a family photographer, this guide will help you learn different ways to take photos of people with a lazy eye, so it isn’t shown or as obvious if that is indeed the desired outcome.
Problems Lazy Eye can Cause in Photos
Out of all of the issues that can affect a photo, such as movement and lighting, a lazy eye can affect pictures in multiple ways due to the lazy eye’s nature. It can largely depend on the reason and the way the lazy eye shows itself. Some problems that a lazy eye can cause in a photo are:
- Squinting or the eye shutting
- Eyes not appearing even
- Head tilting
As a photographer, it is essential to know the symptoms of a lazy eye in your subject to try to work with the symptoms to prevent them from being prevalent.
Changing the Subject’s Focus
Changing where the subject looks when they’re having their photo taken can easily manipulate the appearance of a lazy eye. It largely depends on if their lazy eye is more inwards or outwards.
If their eye falls inwards, the subject should be directed to look away from the center of the lens. If their eye drops outwards, the subject should be told to look toward the center of the lens.
You can also ask the subject to train their eye in a specific direction. To do this, you will have them focus on an object away from the camera, and then just before the photos are taken, you have them look directly at the camera.
When changing their focus, make sure to do it quickly and in short periods if you’re taking multiple photos. The longer the subject has to focus, the more likely their lazy eye will drift, and trying to focus for too long can cause them to be uncomfortable.
Changing the Photo Angle
The angle you take the photo can prevent lazy eye in an image. Outside of eye training and changing the subject’s position, you can shoot them from a higher angle. Doing this also forces the eyes to look up, which is another way to train the lazy eye to a better position and conceal any slight drifts that can occur while the eyes are moving.
Changing the Head and Body Position
Another great way to prevent a lazy eye from being seen in photos is to angle the subject and their head so that the lazy eye is countered. With excellent coaching from the photographer, this is the easiest way to take a photo preventing lazy eye.
To do this, you would ask your subject to turn the shoulder of the “good eye” forwards, lean their body forwards, and give them a queue to force their eye to look at the camera at the last second. Doing this will also create a slight barrier and a shadow to hide the eye.
You can also get a straight profile photo of someone with a lazy eye. You will ask your subject to slightly tilt their forehead down and to look down. At the last moment before the photo is taken, ask your subject to look up to be able to capture their eyes in the most straight position, similarly to how you would be taking the photo from a higher angle.
Taking Selfies with a Lazy Eye
Everyone enjoys taking selfies, and while most treatments for a lazy eye can correct the balance in the eyes, sometimes, as teenagers and adults, it can still be seen. There are several things you can do to get the perfect selfie if you have a lazy eye.
One thing you can do is to practice taking photos in a mirror or with a friend. Try out different angles for the camera and head tilts. Compare each image to see which combination shows the lazy eye the least.
You can also practice doing the eye training exercises to get yourself to look towards the camera at the last moment. Using a camera to take multiple, rapid photos can help with this so that you can get your pick from the best-looking photos.
Photographing Children, Infants, and Toddlers with Lazy Eye
Lazy eye can be commonly found in children and infants; however, getting children to follow the instructions to modify the photo can be challenging. Infants will be even more difficult because they cannot understand and follow commands, and a child can.
As a photographer, you need to be patient with children and infants if you try not to capture the lazy eye. The subjects may have difficulties seeing due to blurred vision and poor depth perception.
Photographing children with a lazy eye can be a simple and challenging task. As with photographing any child, it largely depends on how you engage them and how cooperative they are.
One of the best ways to photograph a child with a lazy eye is to change their position so the lazy eye isn’t visible. This is more difficult for portrait photos, such as school pictures. Following the above guide will definitely help.
Remember to be patient because the child could get antsy and not want to sit that long for the photo. Be as calm and engaging as possible to ensure the child doesn’t feel self-conscious about their lazy eye.
Infants and Toddlers
Photographing infants and toddlers with a lazy eye can be difficult. Cognitively, they can’t understand and process directions, so most of the work preventing the lazy eye from being seen in the photo is done by the photographer and some assistants.
An excellent way to manipulate the lazy eye is to have a toy or a bright object to draw the infant or toddler’s attention to the desired direction to prevent the lazy eye from being seen. You can also try using toys that make sounds, like rattles or bells, because, as mentioned earlier, people with a lazy eye may have difficulties seeing correctly.
When All Else Fails…
Sometimes, no matter how hard you get the subject to pose or try capturing at different angles, the lazy eye can still be present. As a last resort, if you still can’t get a good photo without capturing a lazy eye, you can edit the photo.
One way to do this is to clone the “good eye,” and then place it into the lazy eye. This process is meticulous, and you should be careful when doing this because it can sometimes make the lazy eye look worse.
How Common is Lazy Eye?
Lazy eye, also known as amblyopia, is found in about 2% of children in the United States. The eye only appears to be lazy due to several possible factors, such as the muscle connection to the brain or eye disease. It can affect the quality of their vision and their ability to focus.
There are many treatment options for people with a lazy eye, depending on the causes.
Although it can be difficult, preventing a lazy eye from being seen in photos takes plenty of practice and training on the photographer and subject’s part.
Don't be afraid to communicate if you are having difficulty so the client/subject can set appropriate expectations.
Overall, remember to stay calm, encouraging, and be able to take some extra time with your subject to be able to get the best pictures.