Introduction to Posing
So I wanted to give everybody an overview of exactly kind of what we're doing. And so I thought it might be relevant to give you an idea of my background. I'm a fashion photographer based in New York City but I wasn't always a fashion photographer. I actually had a small portrait studio in Upstate New York. It was a small town, few thousand people which probably some of you relate to this when you're in that small town, there's not really the niche (Lindsay laughs) market as everybody says in all the business classes. You need to have a niche, you need to have a focus. Yeah with a few thousand people you need to photograph newborns and engagement sessions and weddings and high school senior portraits and everything. And when you're doing this, the people want you to make them look your best. And okay so you kind of figure out the lighting and you got that 'cause that somehow is universal to everything, some of those ideas. And then okay, figure out what lens choice, I kinda piece those...
together. But when it comes to posing I was like, "Okay. I have no idea where to start." And I think the most challenging part is I didn't know what I was looking for, what makes a good pose, what makes a bad pose. And so that's some of the things that I'll talk about as well. What are you actually looking for? Half the time I've actually looked at some people's contact sheets, the images that they've shot and I'm like, "No that's a much better pose." It's actually a matter of even picking the wrong one. And so really when I'm posing, I'm taking my time, I'm thinking and I'm not getting stressed out. So that's what I'm going to encourage everyone else to do. And what you'll do in this class is today's focus is all about the basic, basic, basic, basic essentials. The do's and don'ts, I have a whole series of do this, don't do this. And if you've seen me teach before, you also know that I hate that. (Lindsay and crowd laughs) I hate the do's and don'ts. You shouldn't have rules 'cause rules are meant to be broken. Okay but you gotta know them first and you have to be able to kinda see what a good pose and bad pose is. So today as we start, we'll be talking about the essentials just proposing in general. We'll also be talking about things just a little about analyzing body types, some better ways to pose certain body types. Also a little bit about maybe, I call them problem areas, double chins for example or things like that. And then what we're going to do for the rest of the time is little segments that's encouraging everybody out there, you guys as well to be able to say, "Okay, today I have a family portrait. And watch this short segment 15, 20, 30 minutes." Something that's easy instead of a three day class which are great if you wanna get into it more. If you've never photographed a family before, maybe you don't have three days. So what you're gonna do is watch this 15, 30 minutes or boudoir, even as you do your first boudoir. If you don't have the first three days to do it, you watch this 15, 20 minutes segment. So we're covering a ton of stuff and I invite tons and tons of questions. Usually what I'll do though is I'm gonna teach the segments and I'll kinda take questions more at the end because this is intended for everyone to build a reference back quickly so they get that meet first and then get the questions later on. Alright, so I'm going to jump in with that. And you guys, feel free to ask me questions whenever you'd like. By the way, you can find me on my blog, I update regularly and I'm very active on Facebook. If anybody wants to keep in touch there. So 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 usually 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 maybe, 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 the every single person that you need to liquefy them in Photoshop and posing 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 a straight out of 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 look hotter in your Facebook photos. (Lindsay and crowd laughs) Just watch this first segment because I mean I can, 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 to help bring out what that person is looking for. Bring out the best in your subjects. What I'm gonna do is I'm gonna 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 shot ads just like that where the person's foot is as big as their head. So you learn the rules that you an 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, you don't really even need unique poses. Master the essentials first and honestly I have five, 10 poses for each subjects that I go to every time. You don't need 50 poses, you don't need a 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. If the essentials then just tweak for your subject. So what I do on a shoot is I recommend you start with a a safe and boring pose. Keep it safe, 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 girl's hand above her head and tilted. It'll just kinda stress the person out so I start of 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 with 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're 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 the 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 some place to go. 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. And so I need to figure out how to pose them. People think like, "Oh posing models is easy." No 'cause they show up and half the time they're just pretty and then they don't know how to pose. And so I don't need to do crazy extravagant poses. So I wanna 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 again, it's a white background with flat light and then I feel bad as a photographer. So I have to share but some of my favorite photographers. 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 are 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, the pose is just it takes it too much and trying too hard. So 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 suppose 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 and I go for like creepy and they kinda stare at the camera (crowd 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 is, here's my little demo, ready? A portrait pose is different from a glamour pose is different from a fashion pose. 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?
Why do you like breaking the rules?
Okay because 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 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 my posing varies drastically and there really isn't kind of a right answer for that.
How do you 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 anyway, 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 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 is great as a fashion photographer is we have hair and makeup for two hours. (Lindsay laughs) 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 they're 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 would 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 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 and that's one of 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. (crowd laughs) I mean basically. Have you seen those memes on the internet where like the person looks this way they're hot, and they look this way and you're like, "Ooh." (Lindsay and crowd 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 so don't try to make it over the top, keep it simple to start of 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 is the extend of it. Or this is one of my favorite photographs. And it's kind of that pose. The only difference is she's kind of stepping towards you. But basically this the straight on towards camera unpose 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. 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 closeup better, being able to do 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 some of my fashion work. Although they're not the same, they kind started of similarly. I would start them I'd 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. 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. (Lindsay and crowd 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 of it 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, that makes up an image. And so know that I'm 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 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 of with about 1/10 of the poses in posing books. Because the people aren't teaching the essentials, they're teaching these are all different poses learn this, you need to know 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. (crowd laughs) 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 step ladder, get an angle here, I'll get down low, move from the sides. So again, no need to learn a ton, a ton of poses.