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!

Lighting Is Not Everything

I keep bringing everything back to light from almost every post. So perhaps some illustration  and explanation are in order on how lighting is important but “is not everything.”

You may ask “I don’t understand! If lighting isn’t everything, what is lighting?” Without light shots are practically impossible yes. Lighting is important, however just adding light is not the “cure-all” for poorly lit photography. The key to added lighting is its positioning. Light positioning came up in our 6 part article on “Back Lighting” and “Jewelry Photography” single, but how about “simple scenes”? What can be done to improve a shot with “house-hold lights”?

I want to caution anyone who may consider scenes “simple”. It may not  be difficult to see or understand, although a “simple shot” is exactly the photo with which you will come away. Simple shots often do not have depth, intrigue or definition, thus they appear “flat” and are not “interesting”. Lighting properly placed can change this in seconds.

Photographers who specialize in portraiture are aware of the technique “3/4 (‘three quarter’) lighting”; if not by name, I am certain they do in practice. A brief explanation of “3/4 lighting” and I will show you how I applied it in my illustration.

3/4 Lighting is strategically placing your light to the side of your subject and no more than 45 degrees below. From the starting position for lighting directly in-front of your subject’s face, pivoting the light around the side of your subject and then lowering the light in that plain to achieve your desired effect. Positioning a light in such a way will light about 3/4 of the face, thus “3/4 lighting.”

Lighting is not just a catalyst for capturing a photo, but also the important ingredient for making an image which has intrigue, contrast, clarity and definition.