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 usually stress me out. Subject would show up to my studio and they would be less than what you would call a model. 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 Liquify them in Photoshop and pose them so that 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 look ho...
tter in your Facebook photos, just watch this first segment because I can, let me tell you, I can do that pose, 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 what that person is looking for, bringing 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, 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, I have five, 10 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 pose, like, 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 will just kinda stress the person out. So 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 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 in to your studio, you've got some place to go. So, we will definitely start with that. Another misconception is about posing being extravagant. 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, "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, against the white background with flat light and I feel bad as the photographer. So, I have to show some of my favorite photographs so we can just talk about the posing real quick. So, for example. Okay, 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. A lot of times, when there's crazy hair and makeup, the pose is just, it takes too much and trying too hard. So, one of my most recent images that I just created is 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. Flat footed, hands by your side. When you're photographing extremely tall skinny models, that one works and I go for, like, creepy and they kinda stare at the camera, 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 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, Lindsay?
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 and 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 you like to relax your really, really nervous people that you're posing?
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 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. So, what I will usually do, what's great as a 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 and I kind of 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 initial one.
That's cool, thank you. And I wanna give a shout out to Dan Troutman who sent that question in 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?
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, well, most of us, are not even. We're asymmetrical, and 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. I mean, basically. And have you seen those memes on the internet where the person looks this way, they're hot, and they look this way, and you're like, "Oh." They exist.
It's a great example, love it. All right, 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 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 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 kind of stepping towards you, but basically, this would be 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 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, like, here's some of my fashion work. Although they're not the same, they kind of started off 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 got to 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 caveat 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 photos, 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, 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 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. As you learn what flatters them, I'll get a nice pose, an intimate moment, and I'll just do circles around the couple. I'll stand up with my stepladder, get an angle here. I'll get down low or move from the side. So again, no need to learn a ton, a ton of poses.