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Introduction to Posing

Lesson 1 from: Posing 101: Couples, Weddings and Families

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

1. Introduction to Posing

Lesson Info

Introduction to Posing

"Flattery gets you everywhere in photography", and it's true. That fundamentally what your job is is to bring out the best in a person and one thing that I do wanna say cause this, this used to stress me out. Subject would show up to my studio and they would be less than what you would call a model, okay? Whatever that may be, whatever flaw they might have. These people, they're not want, they don't want you even to make them look exactly like a model and they're not expecting that. They want you to see the beauty in them and bring that out. So don't feel like every single person you need to liquefy them in Photoshop and pose them so they disappear and have, you don't need to do that; just help emphasize what they already have for assets. So, "Flattery gets you everywhere in photography", and I actually did this the other day. There's no Photoshop at all. That is straight outta camera and it's showing what you can do with just a little bit of posing. So anyone who's not even a photogra...

pher out there, if you wanna look hotter in your Facebook photos, (chuckles) (audience laughs) just watch this first segment because I mean I can, let me tell you, I can do that post like on command whenever I need to. But there's certain essentials that apply all the way across and so we'll talk about this; this is your job, is to help bring out with that person is looking for. "Bring out the best in your subjects." So what I'm gonna do is I'm talk about guidelines for flattering but I told you I hate the rule thing so these are guidelines, and so feel free to break them when appropriate. For example, probably nine times out of 10, you don't want someone's foot and leg to look gigantic in the frame, unless you're shooting a shoe ad and you're advertising that shoe, and I've shot ads just like that where the person's foot is as big as their head. So you learn the rules that you can apply them appropriately. Rules are meant to be broken and this is what I recommend for you. So many photographers are trying too hard to do unique poses. I mean you don't really even need unique poses. Master the essentials first and honestly like I have five, 10 poses for each subject that I go to every time. Like you don't, you don't need 50 poses, you don't need 100 poses, you don't need 200 poses, you need five that you can tweak for a little bit of variety, and then knowing how to flatter your subject. Don't freak out, you don't need to know all these different poses, get the essentials and then just tweak for your subject. So what I do on a shoot is I recommend you start with a safe and boring (chuckles) pose. Like keep it safe, you know keep it very simple, just try to flatter your subject, and then once you know you got the shot then go ahead and try something different. But don't start off right away with the girls head and butt, hand above her head, and titled, and like you don't, it'll just kinda stress the person out. So I start off keeping them relaxed and comfortable because then they're like okay, this is going to be so painful, even if the pose becomes more painful later on, at least they don't know that's coming on later on. So I do the expected and then the unexpected, and that's usually what I do at my shoots anyway. So my recommendation to you is to master five poses for each different type of subject, and so that is exactly what we are going to do. For the next two days, what I will do is I'll introduce a subject and give you first, five guidelines for posing that subject. It's not five poses but it's things to watch for; watch out for mergers, watch out for them leaning back too far, things like that, different guidelines for the subjects. And then I'm going to give you five different poses for each subject. So if you can master those no matter who comes into your studio, you've got someplace to go. Alright, so we will definitely start with that. Another misconception is about posing being extravagant. So I'm a fashion photographer and I photograph amazing professional models, and then beginners that have never been photographed before, and so I need to figure out how to pose them. People think like oh posing models is easy. Ah no cause they show up and half the time they're just pretty (chuckles), and then they don't know how to pose. And so I don't need to do crazy, extravagant poses, so I'm gonna show you a couple of my favorite images because the rest of the time here, I'm gonna show you really boring, ugly ones because they're like against a white background with flat light and then I feel bad as a photographer. So I have to show you but some of my favorite photographs so I can just talk about the posing real quick. So for example, okay so how extravagant is this pose? It's not, she has her hand on a tree branch, because looking at this there is so, so, so, so much going on in that frame, if you do an extravagant pose it's too much. So a lot of times when there's crazy hair and makeup, I mean the pose is just, it takes it too much in trying too hard. So one of my most, one of my recent images that I just created, it's a girl looking over her shoulder at you and then my favorite pose is the one you are never ever, ever supposed to do, you ready? I love that pose, this one. (audience chuckles) Flat footed, hands by your side, and when you're photographing like extremely tall, skinny models that one works, and I go for like creepy and they kinda stare at the camera, (audience laughs) okay? But that's not what I'm going to teach you guys how to do but that would be one of my favorites. Another topic that I'll address later as well is - here's my little demo, ready? A portrait pose is different from a glamor pose, is different from a fashion pose, I mean like there's different types of posing so there's not one right answer on that. What is it about that pose that you like, about that straight forward, just standing there. Sure. Why do you like breaking the rules Lindsay? Okay because it, when well for breaking the rules in that case, when I start posing, it starts introducing an element of that personality of that individual. If I just have them standing there it's more surreal, it's this bizarre environment. You're paying attention to the environment in the moment versus like as soon as someone's posed sexy, you're focused on them and their sexiness versus the surreal moment you've created. So that's why, I mean my posing varies drastically, and there really isn't kind of a right answer for that. How do like to relax your really, really nervous people that you're posing? Sure. So one of the first things that I recommend and I know this is not really something everybody can do, if you can have a conversation with your subject beforehand in any way, one on one, just chatting, then they relax because they know you and most people what they do is you walk in the studio, shake your hand, go sit down, and it's, I mean it's really uncomfortable. You have your guard up not even because of photography at that point, but because you don't know that person. So your guard is up twice as much so you have to break down two barriers; your barrier to that person and then their barrier to the camera. So what I will usually do which great as a fashion photographer, is we have hair and makeup for two hours (chuckles), so I sit down and I talk to the person, and I figure out who they are, where are they from, I figure out what they're passionate about, and I kinda have that interaction with them because then I can break down that barrier once in front of my camera, we've already been laughing, we've already been talking, and so it makes it easier for me to pose them. So that will definitely be an initial one. That's cool, thank you, and I wanna give a shoutout to Dan Troutman who sent that question via our chatroom. Wonderful, love it. So Lindsay, when you're posing someone, what are the first things that you're looking for as you're looking at a person and trying to figure out where their problem areas are? Okay so one of the very first things I do when looking at a person but really when talking to them, is I try to figure out what they like best about themselves, or what I appreciate most about them, and that's part of what I'm gonna get into in a second. I'm gonna talk about figuring out what's someone's strengths are, but a little trick is that most women and guys as well, they part their hair on the side of the face they like better. So for people that don't know, a lot of times, well most of us are not even, we're asymmetrical, and that's one of the things that makes like a professional model as they have perfect symmetry or most of them do, but you can kind of judge based on that side of the face. The reason you do that is because I can cover the side that I like less (chuckles). (audience laughs) I mean basically and have you seen those like memes on the internet where like the person looks this way, they're hot, and then they look this way and you're like ooo (laughs). (audience laughs joyfully) They exist. It's a great example, love it. Alright we're ready to go. Yeah. Awesome okay, so as I was saying, it doesn't need to be extravagant so don't try to make it over the top, keep it simple to start off with and so here's a recent shoot that I did. I don't think that doing something extravagant would've added to this photo. You could perhaps add a hand but that, that is the extent of it. Or this is one of my favorite photographs and it's kind of that pose. I mean, the only difference is she's kinda stepping towards you but basically this is the straight on, towards camera, unposed pose, but there's so much going on you don't need something more. Okay but now that I've said that I mean posing is another tool that you have as a photographer and especially when it comes to portraits when really, it's not about personal expression, it's literally about making that subject look better, or making the clothes look better, being able to do a little bit more complicated poses is definitely helpful and I have a lot of base poses that I go back to over and over again, like here's some of my fashion work. Although they're not the same they kinda started off similarly. I would start them by saying okay kick your foot, reach your hand out, it kind of starts in the same place, and I just move pieces. It's not like I memorized 50 different poses. I start them in the same pose I like and then tweak something a little bit different. And I need to know how to pose anything and everything because just like you, I've gotta pay my bills too, and so whoever wants me to take their picture, if they have the money I will (laughs). So I'm photographing men, I'm photographing for clothing lines, I'm photographing mothers and children, but that is a reality for most of us having to do that. Okay so now here's my final copy that he already got into. Okay. Posing is one small part of an image, one small part. Lighting and lens choice, and the styling, and the Photoshop, I mean that makes up an image, and so know that I am stripping it down to the bare minimum. It's going to be subjects on a white background, it will not be beautiful photos, but then you know, I see, I see all the time really, really crappy poses in posing books because it's a pretty picture. So what I did actually and this is not trying to be snotty, I went out and I bought a whole bunch of posing books before teaching this class, I wanted to see what other people did, and I took those and I took big black markers, and I exed off all the crappy poses, and I was most of the time left off with about a tenth of the poses in posing books, because people aren't teaching the essentials. They're teaching these are all different poses, learn these, you need to know 50, instead of learn these essentials and tweak it, and modify it. So this is just giving you an example of how it all comes together for completely, drastically different images. We are going to go and focus on the essentials and nothing more. When you take a look at different poses what makes a really different pose, when I have a couple for example posing together, from one pose, I can get 15 different shots by moving my feet, by changing my lens, by changing my depth of field. So a lot of times that's another reason why you don't need to know 50 poses, you just need to know how to walk around your subject, you know, so you learn what flatters them. I'll get a nice pose in intimate moment and I'll just do circles around the couple. I'll stand up on my stepladder, get an angle here, I'll get down low, I'll move from the side. So again, no need to learn a ton, a ton of poses.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Bridal Couples
Bridal Parties
Couples - Different Height

Ratings and Reviews


All of Lindsay's courses are great. I enjoyed this course. Lindsay is very informative and an entertaining to watch teach. Lindsay's presentations are always well prepared and she gives it her all. Great job Lindsay.

Santosh Mareddy

Lindsay Adler's Posing That little Queens looks Like Awesome,... Loved it


Lindsay Adler is a Creative Live treasure! Her teaching style is consistent, relaxed, easy to listen to, and to the point. Several times now I've intently watched her various classes "live" only to later purchase the class so I can review it again and again...I've never been disappointed. Thank You Lindsay!

Student Work