You could be a master of your gear and a wizard with light but in portrait photography if you’re missing the basics of posing, you could be sunk. Here are 5 Quick Tips on how to prepare to pose people in your shots.
1) Do your research! Study magazines, buy books and look around the interweb or worldwide net to find the poses that appeal to you and begin to incorporate them into your sittings. Don’t feel embarrassed or awkward by emulating something you’ve seen. Throughout the hundreds of years of artists painting and photographing people, NO POSE IS ORIGINAL, it’s all been done before. If you borrow from another image’s approach, it’s not stealing – it’s finding inspiration in the art of another. Personally, i find it flattering when somebody adopts a style similar to mine. And I have to admit, my style is inspired by what I like from others! So always be looking. Surround yourself with imagery.
2) Use technology as an assistant. In my experience, it is impossible for me to remember all the ideas I came up with before the shoot, while I’m shooting. I become distracted by the lighting, by my gear, by the weather and by all the other elements of shooting on location. Enter technology . . . I use an iPad and an iPhone to help keep me focused. Before that I used a simple notepad in which I jotted notes about my ideas. With this new technology, however, it’s easier to convey my ideas to the talent (model). I keep on my phone example photos of some of my favorite poses, so if I’m having difficulty explaining how I would like her to hold her arm, I just whip out the phone and show her a picture. I can see where Pinterest could become a useful tool to keep your influences together and pull up while on location. Just recently, I stumbled upon a few pretty cool basic posing Apps that offer drawings and tips on how to pose. One of which is simply named “Posing App.”
3) Keep it Simple, keep it moving. Avoid beginning a shoot with a complicated pose. Start out really simply and allow a little time for your talent to get comfortable with you, but always keep them moving. From one pose to another, go go go . . . shooting all the time. Sure a handful of those shots will go right to the trash, but it builds the confidence of your model when they hear the shutter continuing to click away. They’ll get into it, trust me! I’ve seen beautiful, talented models stiffen up quickly in front of photographers constantly chimping between every shot. When you look like you’re getting what you want (when you exude confidence in your ability) they’ll get comfortable and put on a show!
Recently we had the pleasure of co-sponsoring a workshop with Clay Blackmore as part of the Canon Explorer’s of Light series here in town. Clay is an absolute whiz at keeping it moving and getting the shot. I was simply in awe watching him move and interact so effortlessly with his talent in the studio. Here is a quick video of his brilliance:
4) Keep talking ‘em up. The relationship between photographer and model relies on communication. For a model to find the zone and for you to find the shot, there needs to be constant dialogue. I’ve found that many models respond better to explanations of the mood I’m looking for instead of barking straight directions. Sure you’ll hear me say, “Okay, that’s great, but let’s try moving your chin just a little more down and to your right” but right before that you may hear this, “Tell me again about your first puppy?” Whamo, there is a sincere, innocent, authentic smile. Remember, they’re acting for you, help them find the character. This is a process, it requires both of you to be on the same page.
5) Keep it Fun. Laugh a little, smile a lot. If everybody is having a good time, everybody wins! Just like “the journey IS the destination”, I believe “the process IS as much of the ART as the final print”
June 12th is the Better Portraits Class in Cedar Rapids, for more details click here!
For books and video tutorials from our shop, click here!