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Posing 101: Essentials

Lesson 1 of 10

Introduction to Posing

Lindsay Adler

Posing 101: Essentials

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. One thing that I do wanna say, cause 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 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, that you need to liquefy them, and Photoshop, and pose them so they disappear. You don't need to do that. Just help emphasize what they already have for assets. So, flattery gets you everywhere in photography. 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 photographer out there, if you wanna l...

ook hotter in your Facebook photos, (crowd laughs) just watch this first segment. Because let me tell you, I can do that pose 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 help bring out what that person is looking for. Bring out the best in your subject. What I'm gonna do, is I'm gonna talk about guidelines for flattery. But I told you, I hate the rules thing, so these are guidelines. Feel free to break them when appropriate. For example, probably nine times out of ten, 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. I've shot ads just like that, where the person's foot is as big as their head. So you learn the rules so that you can apply them appropriately. Rules are meant to be broken. 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. Honestly I have five, ten poses for each subject that I go to every time. 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. So 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 (laughs) pose. Keep it safe, keep it very simple. Just try to flatter your subject. 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 hand above her head and tilted. It'll just kind of stress the person out. I start off keeping them relaxed and comfortable, because then they're like, "Okay," "This isn't 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 in my shoots anyway. So my recommendation to you, is to master five poses for each different type of subject. So that is exactly what we're going to do. For the next two days, what I will do is I will 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 the leaning back too far, things like that. Different guidelines for the subject. 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 some place to go. Alright, so we will definitely start with that. Another mixed conception 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, so I need to figure out how to pose them. People think posing models is easy. Uh no, cause they show up and half the time they're just pretty and then they don't know how to pose. So I don't need to do crazy extravagant poses. I wanna show you a couple of my favorite images, because the rest of the time here, I'm going to show you really boring, ugly ones, because they're against a white background with flat light and then I feel bad as a photographer. But some of my favorite photographs so we can just talk about the posing real quick. 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 much going on in that frame, if you do an extravagant pose it's too much. A lot of times when there's crazy hair and makeup the pose takes it too much in trying too hard. One of my most recent images that I just created is a girl looking over her shoulder at you. My favorite pose is the one you are never, ever, ever supposed to do; you ready? I love that pose; this one. Flat-footed, hands by your side. And when you're photographing extremely tall skinny models, that one works. I go for creepy and they kind of stare at the camera. (audience laughs) But that's not what I'm gonna teach you guys how to do, but that would be one of my favorites. Another topic that I'll address later as well-- here's my little demo, ready? A portrait pose is different from a glamour pose is different from a fashion pose. I mean 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 straightforward just standing there? Why do you like breaking the rules, Lindsey? Okay, because 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, as soon as someone's posed sexy, you're focused on them and their sexiness, versus the surreal moment you've created. I mean my posing varies drastically, and there really isn't a right answer for that. How do you like to relax your really, really nervous people that you're posing? Sure, 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. Most people, what they do, is you walk in the studio, shake your hand, go sit down. 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. You have to break down two barriers: your barrier to that person, and then their barrier to the camera. What I will usually do, which is great as fashion photographer, is we have hair and makeup for two hours. 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. I kind of have that interaction with them, because then I can break down that barrier. Once they're in front of that camera, we've already been laughing, we've already been talking, and so it makes it easier for me to pose them. So that would definitely be an initial one. That's cool, thank you. I wanna give a shout-out to Dan Troutman, who sent that question in via our chatroom. Wonderful. Love it. So Lindsey, 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. That's part of what I'm going to get into in a second, I'm going to talk about figuring out what 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 most of us are not even; we're asymmetrical. That's one of the things that makes a professional model, is 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. (audience laughs) I mean basically. Have you seen those meme's on the internet, where the person looks this way, they're hot, and they look this way, and you're like "Oh." (audience laughs) They exist. It's a great example; love it. Alright we're ready to go. Awesome. Okay so as I was saying, it doesn't need to be extravagant. Don't try to make it over the top. Keep it simple to start off with. So here's a recent shoot that I did. I don't think that doing something extravagant would have added to this photo. You could perhaps add a hand, but that is the extent of it. Or this is one of my favorite photographs. It's kind of that pose, I mean the only difference is she's kind of stepping towards you. But basically, it's 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, posing is another tool that you have as a photographer. 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. Here's some of my fashion work. Although they're not the same, they kind of started off similarly. I would start them, I would say "Okay, kick your foot. Reach your hand out." It kind of starts in the same place, and then I just move pieces. It's not like I memorize 50 different poses, I start them in the same pose I like, and then tweak something a little bit different. I need to know how to pose anything and everything, because just like you I've gotta pay my bills too so whoever wants me to take their picture if they have the money, I will. (Linsey 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 the people aren't teaching the essentials, they're teaching, "These are all the 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. (audience laughs) You learn what flatters them. I'll get a nice pose, and 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 around the sides. So again, no need to learn a ton, a ton of poses.

Class Description

Posing doesn’t have to be complicated. In Posing 101: The Essentials, fashion photographer and CreativeLive instructor Lindsay Adler gives you an introduction to essential posing techniques you need to start building the posing repertoire every photographer needs.

In this class, Lindsay will lay a foundation of posing basics to get you started on mastering posing. You’ll learn tips on interacting with your subject and how to coach expressions. Lindsay will show you how your lens and camera angle work with different poses. Additionally, she covers best practices for posing each body part, what to look for in posture and how to pose and shoot through flaws.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or have some posing experience under your belt, this course will build a solid foundation that will allow you to expand your posing knowledge and start getting creative.

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Stephen Lee

Amazing course, Lindsay presents a ton of great content in a relatively short amount of time. She's got a great lively personality and keeps it fun and interesting. Great job fielding all kinds of questions on the spot - she really knows her stuff!

Aaron Russell

Lindsay is amazing - so much good info in this course! She is knowledgable and inspiring, and a great teacher. However, the two moderator (?) guys who keep interrupting her to repeat her points are so annoying and add absolutely no value. She handles them very graciously as they mansplain everything she says back to her with creepy smiles and fake cheer. They have very Caesar Flickerman from the Hunger Games vibes. I would be so much more excited about Creative Live if they weren't there distracting the great presenters. Anyway, can't wait to watch more of Lindsay's stuff!


First off, I absolutely love the way Lindsay teaches. She shares a LOT of useful information and brings it in a light and cheerful way. There are plenty of examples and photos along with her descriptions. It's a pleasure to watch! This was my first course on posing and I learned a lot. Would definitely recommend this course!