Portraits – Posing

Posing for portraits can be a unique skill of its own when taking portraits. However it is not impossible, so take heart; you will find your niche?

“Posing” as I am using it for this post is meant as “A particular way of standing or sitting, usually adopted for effect or to be photographed, painted, or drawn.” Some would say posed shots can be organized by looking at the camera or not, but that is not totally correct.

Before going on I would like to define candid to clarify more of the differences to posed and candid shots.

Candid:

  • Truthful and straightforward; frank.
  • (of a photograph of a person) Taken informally, esp. without the subject’s knowledge.

Basically, it can be a little difficult knowing a posed photo from candid if the photographer  and subject or model are good at directing and holding a pose. Poses can seem candid and in reverse a candid shot may even seem posed. The difference between posed and candid lies in the knowledge and participation of the subject or model.

We want the pose to look natural and comfortable as if the subject or model is supported. Tension is noticed by a viewer most often subconsciously, and tension is created by the appearance of the subject’s discomfort.

While choosing a pose which accentuates your subjects beauty, take care to make your support visible. For instance, if you have your subject prop themselves on one arm, make sure their arm is visible through the camera. I want to leave you to use your own creativity in methods of support, but illustrating tension, the subject will seem to be performing an isometric crunch on the front lawn. This obviously is not our intent.

Turning the shoulders to one side or the other from the relative position to the hips will show a slimmed abdomen.

A bent knee (in a seated position) will draw muscles tighter in the thigh and hip for contrast to the extended leg.

Drawing the shoulder back and down will show a relaxed chest and shoulders.

One of the main visual queues for poses is the positioning of the subject’s head. If they are not comfortable their head will be pushing forward or resisting a fall backward. Keeping the head in a neutral position will certainly cut the visual signs of strain, offering the best start for positioning.

Candid shots will be our topic for Friday’s post. Looking forward to another visit then!

Advertisement

Portraits – Interaction

When this topic of interaction during portrait sittings came up, a flood of memories and events came through my imagination. I am sure some embarrassment flashed across my face as well as a smile or two. I bring this up to say that I am not the best in the world, but I can share with you how important it is to make your customers comfortable and relaxed so that you can capture the pure expression of joy or surprise.

Your customers look forward to comfortable, pleasant and uplifting interaction during the session. The more relaxed, easy to work with and decisive you are, the more trust and loyalty will be built. Trust and loyalty are very important in a portrait session (yes, they place a certain amount of trust in you to have you shoot their portraits, but the lesson is learning how to build further still without betraying the trust already given).

Portraits can be staged “stiffly” and then the customer hears “Say cheese!”; they move their lips up slightly showing some of their pearly whites, but if you and they were relaxed and comfortable just a bit of humor will soften what is left of the nervous tension which every portrait sitting creates (the more you know about your customer the easier it will be to know their style of humor, but it is always advisable to avoid crass jokes). Now breaks across their face of the most gorgeous and wide smiles with a twinkle in their eyes showing the pure enjoyment they unexpectedly received.

One last thought: with children it takes a special joy in the simple things to encourage the response for preservation by photograph. Interaction must not always include speech to produce the desired expression. For instance, in the photo illustration on the right I used a distraction which caught the youngster’s attention. My assistant was standing in the direction I wanted his face to look and when my assistant began juggling the objects it brought a look of wonder and intense concentration. This was just the look I wanted! I hope that you can take my experiences and use them as they can best serve you. Have fun and take care!

Camera Specifics For Me

“Is it really necessary that I purchase an expensive camera to get nice photos?” Answer: “No. An expensive camera is not necessary to get nice photos.”

Even though I now am a professional photographer I still do not own the top of the line digital camera and a studio full of fancy equipment.

I actually began testing myself in the field of photography with a camera in a cellular phone. I have since the age of 4 played with differing film camera models which came from the late 1960’s, but this was different. This time, using a digital camera in a cellular phone, I did not need to buy for film and pay for processing.

This is not to say that I would be satisfied to go back to using the camera inside the cellular phone, however it provided me a great opportunity learn the angles and perspectives which bring the picture together to communicate a logical visual thought. [Woe! Okay Mr. Big Words; Let us read this in an understandable language this time! – Blog editor] It is important to capture the subject in a natural, comfortable pose. If a viewer looks at the photo and says what they are thinking, would they say something like “That does not look comfortable!” Or would they say, “Wow! I wish I looked that good.” Truthfully we all think that about ourselves, super model or not. The important thing to remember is that the beauty we see is inherent within the person and how they look comes from the way the picture was taken.

Go to a camera store, and I mean a camera store, not a computer super-store. Talk to a sales associate about renting a digital camera and take it out with you everywhere; subjecting it to all the situations in which you will find yourself, testing its abilities. Learn the camera’s strengths and weaknesses. If it will help you, treat the time you have rented the camera as a product review and you are a highly acclaimed journalist who could make or break this store’s sales quarter.

In other words, enjoy your time and put the camera through its paces.