FAQ : Posing


Talk to me in six months! That was my response when my brother told me he enrolled in a photography course in college and wanted to build his portfolio. Just because Sebastian’s my baby brother didn’t mean I was going to cut him slack. If he wanted to pursue photography, then he was going to have to prove it on his own…far away from my opinion or assistance. My family thought I was being too harsh. JD agreed.

I didn’t care.

Those who’ve attended one of my workshops can attest I’m a pusher, a tough coach if you will. When it comes to pursuing a passion, you have to work hard–very hard–at it and I pull no punches. In like manner, if Sebastian was serious about photography, I wanted to see him hustle for a few months and figure things out on his own. For the past semester he built a portfolio and was ready to pick my brain for posing tips, since he sometimes struggled working with his subjects.

I walked him through a very basic process and I thought I’d share it here as well. It’s geared for new-ish photographers, so please forgive me if it’s too simple….
As we walked, I told Sebastian there are a few things to keep mind before you even press the shutter for your first image:
1. Put yourself in your subject’s shoes. Think what they’re thinking, feel what they’re feeling. If you suspect she is uncomfortable/feeling awkward, your first priority is to put her at ease. When you put yourself in her mind, you can articulate what you want in a way that makes sense and is comfortable.
2. Find good light. Sebastian looked for a cool location to shoot and I cautioned him to focus less on the environment and more on natural reflectors and natural light diffusers, like tree branches or bushes. When you master light, you can make any environment magical.
3. Move into poses. Often times photographers previsualize a great photo, but when it comes time to position the subjects, the pose is right, but they look stiff, or robotic. Then the photo loses it’s appeal because it looks so darn fake. If you have a pose in mind, find ways to coach your subjects into that pose with distinct articulation. It’s not enough to have a bride hugging a groom…how can you have them move into the hug so that the pose is natural and a true reflection of them? If you can answer this in advance, live posing becomes less daunting.
4. TALK. I can’t stress this point enough. If I was working with models, I suspect this wouldn’t matter as much, but since I work with average girls {albeit fabulously average}, it’s important to give feedback and assurance that they’re doing it right. Whatever it is. More than anything, I don’t want to make my subjects feel like they’re alone in front of my camera. I talk, engage, and participate as much as possible to get the type of photos I want. If you’re subjects look lifeless, perhaps you’re not doing enough to bring out their true colors.
5. Get photographed. If you want to get better at posing, try getting posed. If it’s a strong photographer, you’ll find ways to get better. However, even if the posing isn’t that great, at least you know what not to do and that’s just as valuable. Experiencing the emotions of being in front of the camera is just as valuable as being behind the camera.

Moving on. This is Dani…

Dani is Sebastian’s girlfriend and I love her…no, adore her. If Sebastian does anything to mess things up with her I’ve warned him we’re trading him for her. F’reals. Anyway, we asked her to pose for us as I explained a few things about photography. In the photo above, the sun is behind her, but the light is broken up by the tree in the background, easing us into shooting her backlit. This is a great place to start if you’re just starting out since shooting backlit can sometimes be difficult.

After we photographed Dani in a few locations and demonstrated how I pose subjects, it was time to challenge Sebastian. I put my camera down and said it was time to use the things he learned to photograph me. I made sure he managed his camera settings (we were shooting past sunset, so the light was tricky)…kept the focal point on my eye…talked to me…moved me into poses…and put himself in my shoes. Ahem, boots.

Before we left, I said I had to photograph him…so he knows what it feels like to be in front of the camera.

I hope this helped a little bit if you’re struggling with posing. If not, please let me know how I can expound on it and, perhaps, find a better way to approach this subject again. If you’re still looking for more, click here for more photography posing tips. Happy Thursday!