Posing, Poses and Posers

These tips are by no means intended to be any sort of official rules. These are things I’ve learned as I developed into a photographer. I can only speak from the best of my knowledge, experience, and style. Not all of them will fit everyone’s style and some of them might work or not work depending on what type of photography you are focusing on or how your photo shoot is progressing. I don’t want to announce myself as an expert in this field of photography, because this is one thing I am not. To start with, lets see some examples. Like anything in photography, and just in my personal opinion, people will say there are right ways and wrong ways to do things. As much as I can agree with that statement, in the Model Shoot | 25th June 2012mark_001 (2)mark_001 (10)end if you are happy with your results and they fit the criteria you set out before you began your photoshoot then where is the problem? There are however, photographers that firmly believe that the way they do things is the only way. I don’t condone anyone who is happy to carry on shooting the one and only way they know how as long as they are happy with the results. Some photographers are afraid of change. Fact. There are many phrases that spring to mind but the one that jumps out first is “If it isn’t broken, then don’t fix it”. This can be applied in many circumstances but in some instances it isn’t always that appropriate. Sometimes a little push in a different direction can open up a whole new window of opportunity for you and I. Something as small as someone suggesting something can make you realise. As uncomfortable as it may feel, you suddenly see things from a different perspective. You can open up whole new avenues of ideas and nine times out of ten you will usually end up asking yourself “why didn’t I see that earlier?” or “what was I thinking?”. Photography is not about secrets, it’s not about hiding things away. We share our images with the world for others to see and ultimately enjoy. So why hide the creative process.

In this age of digital photography, presently, we have the ability to shoot and check, adjust, shoot and check again..until we achieve the results we want. So we have no excuse for not knowing that we have what we came for before we leave a set or a studio. We live in an electronic age; and as photographers with digital cameras we now have the ability to tether the camera to a laptop either with a cable or even wirelessly. If you have never tried tethered shooting before I can highly recommend it.

Tethered Shooting involves connecting the camera you are using to a computer or laptop during the photo shoot. It’s a great idea if you are working with a subject (not just a model) where the focus needs to be checked to pinpoint accuracy. tether08When tethered, your camera is connected to your computer or laptop via a USB or FireWire cable, so each image is immediately available on the computer screen for you to look at. I have used it for some macro work at home inside Adobe Lightroom 3 and 4 and had some fantastic results. Using a computer screen to check your images is also a great way to understand how the small screen on your camera can make mistakes. Checking the focusing on macro shots gives a whole new experience when you see the images on the big screen. It makes it easier to place lights, define framing and correct things because you see each flaw in your technique. If you’re using RAW expect for some delay for the images to appear on-screen as file sizes from the latest cameras are quite large.

Back to the subject of posing. Below are twenty ideas that will give you an insight in to what you might want to try when doing a studio shoot. Enjoy !!

  1. Don’t shoot shoulders square on. Shoulders are the widest part of a body and as a photographer it is our job to flatter the least flattering parts of our bodies. Shooting straight on is not flattering. Angle the shoulders slightly to lead the viewer into the photo.
  2. If it bends, then bend it. Don’t let your clients have straight joints. It looks stiff and un-relaxed. Asking your client instead to slightly bend an arm or walk as they have their photo taken will help your client look relaxed and naturally posed. This rule also applies to the neck. If the neck looks stiff, ask your client to tilt their head slightly.
  3. Shoot straight on, or better from above. Shooting from below a person makes even the most gorgeous subject look awkward. Shooting from above can make someone appear slimmer, eliminates double chins, and can provide a beautiful look into your subjects eyes. Shooting from below can make someone’s hips appear wider than they are or any other body part and this is generally unflattering.
  4. No up the nose. Sometimes we forget our perspective and as moms when we photograph newborns we look at them the way a mom would holding them and take a photo. Anytime you are shooting a face from below or at an angle, be careful you are not doing ‘up the nose’ shots where you can see up your client’s nostrils. This can happen during any type of photography, so it’s good to be aware.
  5. Sharkeyes. Sharkeyes are when someone’s eyes in a photo are black and have no light or color to them. Ensure that the eyes of your clients have good catch lights or sparkle to them by asking them to tilt their head or turn slightly one way or another. These small movements can give that sparkle to a client’s eye that can make or break a photo.
  6. Put weight on the back leg. Have clients angle their shoulders so they’re not square to your camera and put their weight on their back leg. This automatically makes them relax.
  7. Give your clients lots of direction. Most people are uncomfortable in front of the camera and you have to direct them. Giving them direction will help them feel confident and that confidence will show up in the photos.
  8. Let one pose become many. You can move your own feet, or zoom in or zoom out or move slightly to the side and take photos from different angles.
  9. Have your clients look places other than your camera. You can tell them to look away, look down over their shoulder, look past your camera to provide a different emotion to your photos.
  10. Give your clients encouragement. When they’re in front of the camera they can’t see what they look like and they need to know if they look good. When they hit a good pose or you’re taking photos that you know have hit the mark, let them know how good they look.
  11. Portraits are traditionally shot a few degrees above the eyes.
  12. Bring a stepladder with you to all your photography shoots and weddings.
  13. Talk to your clients. Getting to know them gives them a sense of trust with you. You want your subject to trust that you know what you’re doing and can make them look good.
  14. Sometimes people’s faces get stiff. Ask your clients to take a deep breath and breath out with their lips slightly open. The few moments after this your clients face will be relaxed and natural – so snap a few. If that doesn’t work, ask them to do the “pufferfish” face where they blow up their cheeks and then let it all out. That helps their face to relax too. If you do it with them, they won’t feel as silly.
  15. Give them something to do with their hands. They can touch their cheek, run their hands through their hair, put their hands on a nearby object…something.
  16. Show them what you mean. Instead of trying to tell your client how to pose, get in the pose to show them how you want it to look. You’re a photographer right? You are visual and probably learn visually and it’s likely that your clients are visual learners too!
  17. Be aware of ears. Shooting people straight on can make their ears appear large. With women if they are tucking their hair behind their ear or if their ear sticks out just slightly it can be one of those things that will bother them later in photos and can sometimes look distorted when in 2-dimensional photography form
  18. Get close. One of the biggest newbie mistakes is to shoot from far away and get lots of the background or landscape in the photo. This happens a lot when we’re not confident with posing. If you force yourself to get close the photo becomes more about the clients and their interactions with each other or with you than about the background.
  19. Limbs. If you are cropping out anyone’s body ensure that your crop lines do not fall at the joints (wrists, knees, elbows, etc.). When this happens it gives the appearance that the subject’s body does not continue past the frame of the photo. Instead if you have to crop, do it where there isn’t a join and this will give the impression that the rest of their arm, leg, etc. continues beyond the photo.
  20. Watch for shadows and light. There’s a reason a lot of photographers like to shoot in that ‘golden hour’ either in the wee hours in the morning or just before sunset. The light is even and not harsh and it prevents you from having strange shadows on your clients faces. Shadows below the nose or below the eyes can give your client the appearance of not being as good-looking as they truly are. Whatever time of day you are shooting aim to ensure that your clients faces are in perfectly even light where there are no harsh shadows. If you have to shoot in the middle of the day, shoot in the shade.

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About Mark Winterbourne

A little about me … well, what can I say. I started photography back in 1979 when I was just 11 years old. I was given a 35mm SLR Camera by my late Grandfather as a birthday present. The camera was a Russian built Zenit EM and built like a house brick. Many of my slides on here are taken with the very same camera. My passion stemmed from my Grandfathers love of photography and in particular his fondness of the English Lake District. I will showcase his work on here in the coming months, but there are over 10,000 slides and I have quite a task ahead of me scanning them in. In the late eighties and early nineties I moved on to autofocus SLR’s and began to accumulate quite a stash of equipment. In between my full time employment and sleeping I started doing small photographic assignments for freinds, family and small businesses. In the early 2000′s I started using a digital camera and traed all my traditional film cameras in for more equipment. My Camera Equipment Canon EOS 20D Body BGE2N Battery Grip Canon EOS 50D Body BGE2N Battery Grip Canon 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 EF-S Lens Canon EF 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III Lens Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM Sigma 28-105 F2.8-4 DG Lens Sigma 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Canon 580EX Speedlite Flashgun Canon CP-E4 Compact Battery Pack for 580EX I took an avid interest in aviation photography at the start of the 2000′s when digital cameras became more accessible. My enjoyment was taken up a level when I discovered I could mix my love of light & colour with aviation photography by taking photographs. In 1983 I suffered a head injury which was diagnosed as a brain tumour. LIfe soon returned to normal in 1984 but in the early part of 2002 things turned nasty and headaches and sickness returned. To date I dont have a surgeon willing to operate on me and struggle by day to day. You will find more about this in my blogs……. Nothing will stop my photography, not even this head injury….this blog reflects my day to day life as a person with an interest in photography….with a headache to match Hope you enjoy….please feel free to contact me, anytime

Posted on February 21, 2013, in Models & Portraits, Photography (General) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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