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Posing 101: Essentials

Lesson 10 of 10

Posing and Shooting Flaws

Lindsay Adler

Posing 101: Essentials

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

10. Posing and Shooting Flaws

Lesson Info

Posing and Shooting Flaws

Photographing and shooting flaws and the biggest part of flaws is, if that person perceives it as a flaw. For example, I'll just tell everybody, I think my nose is a little big, everyone's always like "No, you're totally fine". But if it bothers me, and you take a photo of me where it looks bigger than I want it too, I will not be happy with you. So I might as well just tell you (laughs). So I tell people that, and so I try to have a conversation with my clients and I don't say, "What don't you like about yourself?" I usually say, (audience laughs) I usually say, "So what's your favorite feature, I love your eyes" to see what they say. Typically if they have a problem area they don't like, they'll be like, "It's not my nose" and I'm like "Oh why", you know? Or you can just tell for different people. So, I'm just gonna go through them and I'll demo this on you later (laughs). (audience laughs) Whatever you need, I'm here for you, Lindsay. Okay, a bald head or a large forehead. Okay,...

so here are my tips for reducing these flaws using posing and camera angles. So the first one, if you are photographing, let's say, a woman with a large forehead. If she is sitting and leaning towards the camera and looking up at you, the closest thing to the camera is her large forehead. So, typically, you want to shoot eye-level or below with those individuals. And the same thing is obviously going to be true with a bald head. When you're having someone do chin out, make sure it's not chin out and way down. It's mostly chin out at that point. There's so many other things like lighting, you don't want a hair light (laughs) if you're photographing someone who's bald. Or you don't want a light too close cause then it's gonna be brighter on the forehead, which draws attention. There's more things to it than this, so if anybody is going to WPPI this year, I am teaching a platform class on exactly this with exact photos, before and after, so you can see everything so if anyone comes to WPPI, come say hi. Also, you wanna shoot a slightly longer lens because if you have even just a little bit wider, it still will distort on the edges, and so if somebody's forehead is near the top of the frame, it will make it look a little longer. So, in this case, even an 85 at that point it might just look a little wider at top. So for someone with a really large forehead, if I want to be able to shoot at a little higher angle, maybe for the posing reason. If you wanna shoot at a higher angle, because I want that person to be able to kick their hips back, but now when I get the higher angle, I'm like "Oh crap". So that's why posing is all these little things. But, in that case, if I had to get up a little higher, I'd use a longer lens cause then it doesn't stretch that feature at the edges. The 50 up close to that person, their forehead would double in size at the edges, so just keep those things in mind. Asymmetrical face, okay. One of the things our eyes and our brains are trained to do is look for symmetry. We're looking for that, we like order, and we're always looking for that. We're trying to line things up. So when somebody has a very asymmetrical face, your job in posing is to not line it up. Cause what happens is, if this eye is lower, and you are straight onto camera, this lower eye, you're comparing those eyes the whole time you're looking at that shot. But if I turn away and tilt my head, now you don't see it anymore. So when anybody has an asymmetrical feature, or a smaller feature, find a way to make sure that their head is not straight onto that camera. So my two things are turn and tilt and that it's so not symmetrical that your mind isn't looking for those things. Yeah? But would it be the same for a guy? Cause you don't really wanna have a guy to have his head tilted back there. So, for a guy, no that's totally true. For a guy, you can still tilt their head. You tilt their head away subtly instead of towards. So, guys--like girls, you tilt head towards, for guys it's like the kinda little standoffish away just a little bit. But at minimum, if it's a guy, do a little bit of a turn. It's kinda shoulder, head turn, eyes back and so then you're not lining it up. So, looking at the features, if something is clearly smaller than the other, there are very few people where I'm like, "Oh my god, that eye's so tiny, I need "to put that closer to the camera". (audience laughs) That doesn't happen. I mean, there are people but it's very seldom. The general rule is to even things out, that you put the smaller eye closer towards the camera. So what I was saying before about the good side and bad side, alright. So people have a side of the face they prefer. We've talked about this before. Generally people part their hair on the side of the face they prefer. The other way to tell is which way they take a selfie. People instinctually know their better side, so if you can, I mean if you're friends with the person on Facebook and you can see which way they turn, I'm being totally serious. They know their better side, they do. Russ is like, "I know, this is my side" (laughs). (audience laughs) And notice how he's sitting, with that arm forward, cause he likes that side better. (audience laughs) I like that. So people have a better side, but often that side would not be the side with the smaller feature, right? Because a lot of times, let's say, if their eye is smaller, probably their better side is the eye that's larger. So it would actually work against you. So, it's just, if you could figure out which side is the better side, just make sure it's not symmetrical, that's the really big part of this. Next one, droopy eyes. I get this a lot when I photograph women where we do a glam session and, by the end, they had on fake eyelashes and their eyes are drooping. I don't know if you've ever had that experience, but it definitely happens. So my tip for you is to shoot from a slightly higher angle so they have to look up at you. Because if you, if I'm the model, and you're the photographer, if you're there, I can kinda peer down at you. But if you're up there, I have to look up at you, if you're at a higher angle, in order to actually see you. So it forces my eyelids open and I'll get-- I'm not throwing people under the bus, but a lot of times when you photograph, say, musicians, I don't know if anyone out there, anyone who photographs musicians a lot knows this, sometimes they like to drink on set. (audience laughs) I'm being serious, they really do, and so by the end, they're a little... And I will, you'll notice my angle gets higher (laughs) (audience laughs) So if I'm on a ladder by the end, you know there was a lot of drinking (laughs). (audience laughs) But really, shooting at a higher angle definitely opens people's eyes a bit. So if you watch somebody who has just generally droopier eyes, shoot from a little bit higher angle. Alright, next one, okay, the large nose one. I'm going to demo just a couple of these things when we come back, just to make sure that everybody's on the same page. The large nose, okay. First and foremost is use a longer lens. So one of the key things that we said before is that a wider lens emphasizes distance. So, a wider lens would emphasize the distance from your face to the tip of your nose, making it look longer and it definitely, definitely does. It makes a huge difference. So instead, I wouldn't shoot more in the 70 range, I'm talking full-frame camera again, wouldn't shoot in the 70 or the 85, I would be more towards the 100, 120, 150. I go longer in that case. The other thing that you wanna watch out for, as well, is shooting too high or too low of an angle. The big thing you wanna watch out for, the really, really big thing, is let's say that you wanna shoot at a high angle, that's how you wanna shoot your pose. If their chin is down, I don't know if you've ever seen this, sometimes the nose, if it's long enough, will actually line up and hit the lip. You don't want that where someone with a large nose. There needs to be space between the tip of the nose and their lip. So if you are going higher up, you need to make sure that you raise your chin so it's still kind of eye level. Otherwise, it draws attention and screams, "This person has a large nose", and that's the opposite of what you want. Similarly, from a low angle, you'll be able to see the size of their nose from their nostrils, you don't want that. So I say, in general, eye level or a little bit above with a longer lens. Those are the two big things right away. The other one is, basically, photographing the person, I don't wanna say completely straight on, but more straight on than you might normally. Because, as soon as you move from not being straight on, as soon as you move from not being straight on is when you see a length or shape of the nose. Straight on is where it's minimized, you don't see it. It's actually for shortening working for you in a good way, which is why sometimes people like when you turn the face cause it adds depth, but you don't want depth. You want flat, straight-on towards the camera. So that's for somebody who has a longer nose. But the huge one is, is if you do want to turn the person's head slightly to one side or the other, watch that cheekline thing I said. As soon as the cheek and the nose peeks out over the cheek, it draws attention, you look right at the tip of their nose. And that's, I mean that's a huge no-no. So I don't have my no-nos for posing, but apparently this one I'm adamant about. No nose crossing the line and use a longer lens. And I only have just a couple more. Oh just one more, good, alright, double chin. Okay, so for a double chin, the number one thing is never sit back or lean back. If you're having a guy pose up against a wall, and guys tend to pose perhaps a little more like this, they will have a double chin. You always need to lean them, whatever it may be. No leaning back, always leaning forward. If they're posing, one of the guy poses is they walk towards you, make it look like they walk towards you, pull that chin out. If they're sitting down, whatever they're doing, chin out. But the problem that a lot of people with double chins, they pose themselves, or they try to pose themselves cause they're aware of it. So what they do is they try to pull up and out cause they're trying to stretch that skin as much as possible. When they put their chin up, this is what you can see. So you're actually seeing the double chin more. So it really is chin out and then down a little bit. When they pull it out, it defines their jawline, it stretches that skin, and the down kinda hides it and draws attention to their eyes. It's the chin back or down that you don't wanna do. Shoot eye level or above. When you shoot lower, that's where you're going to see that area of skin. And there's a lot more to it than this. There's lighting, you know, you don't wanna put a reflector underneath their chin cause then it's lit and so you'll see that, you'd rather have shadow, shoot from a little higher, chin out to stretch it out, down to hide it a little bit and, if it is serious, like serious, serious and you wanna hide it, and lighting didn't work and posing didn't work, use their hands (laughs). (audience laughs) And I'm half-joking. I've photographed some rather large rappers. You know, and it blocks it. So that's like my-- This is the reason for this pose. Yes, this is the reason for this pose, we've decided (laughs). Or somethin' like that, you know if you've seen them do kinda this look, it's hiding double chins. So keep these things in mind, these would be my go-to double chin fixers. Okay, so now we can finish up with questions for the rest of the time. Fantastic, did you wanna do demonstrations or do you wanna do questions? We can finish up with questions and I'll do it after. Perfect. Then I'll bring out the set. Okay so a couple questions. One of the things that Susan E. just asked is "When it comes to double chins, "how do you work with parents "that are looking down at their babies "or their childs, you know, they're looking "down at the kids in the family photo? "I've had this happen to me". Oh, definitely. So that is going to be, for example, if you have a child sitting on your lap, the kid shouldn't be here, they need to be here and it's more of a lean and look if you want the parent to look at the kid versus the looking at the kid. Anything you can do so it's more they have to lean to look at their child versus just looking down like that. Thank you. So I think leaning. Cool, fantastic. DiveGirl9 and Noreen, DiveGirl9 "What to do "with people with crossed eyes and then "someone with lazy eyes" or otherwise off-balance. I definitely think that that's a asymmetry thing. I would definitely not try any straight on, looking towards camera intensive ones, if you can do ones with a little bit of a tilting head where you're not trying to line things up, that's really all that you have available to you if you want a looking-at-camera shot. It's just make it as asymmetrical as possible. Anything you can do so it's not a pose straight towards that camera. Cool, and let's stick on eyes from the Owlcologist says, "For people who have "squinty eyes and you can't really see". Do you have any tricks to help them open up again? I get a higher angle and it definitely does work. Higher angle, sometimes, I know this is gonna sound silly, sometimes a little closer. Cause people, when you're in their personal space a little bit, they do actually open up their eyes. (audience laughs) I'm being totally serious! Versus if you're far away, sometimes people are a little... But higher angle. (audience laughs) Above angle, maybe camera level here, versus eye level. Like something right there. And MeMeMe, not me, but MeMeMe wants to know how you trick a blinker so that you can get their eyes open. I mean that's a little bit more to do with lighting but what do you think? It's less to do with lighting and more to switching up, what they do is they actually detect your shooting patterns so they know how often you take a pose or when you're going to, so it's more just trying to break your own habits so that they can't anticipate it. (audience laughs) Or back button focus is another one, because a lot of times what people will see on your camera is most photographers have front-button focus, or a lot of photographers do. So you push halfway to focus, all the way to take a picture. So they see...and then click. So they know when you're gonna take that picture and they blink, they do that all the time. So what back button focus allows you to do is you actually focus on the, well it depends on how you have it set, but there's a button on the back of your camera, my 5D Mark III had it set by default when I received it. So you focus there and you click here, so they don't have that little second to see you focus, you just focus and click. So try something to kinda throw them off and definitely try back-button focus, I think that would help a lot. Cool, thank you. So this one is from heartmommyinpa and she says, "How 'bout someone "that might have a prominent surgical scar? "My daughter is a CHD survivor and has a scar "on her chest from heart surgery and might be a little bit embarrassed about it". How would you treat something like that? For me, I just have a conversation. I wouldn't pose any different, I wouldn't draw any attention. If they are willing to talk about it right up front and you're just like, just show interest in them as a person and hear their story, a lot of times that concern melts away because they're not wondering if you're wondering what it is. If they're willing to open up about it right away, then just get it out of the way and it's no concern.

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

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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!