The Keys to Posing


Posing, Composition and Natural Light


Lesson Info

The Keys to Posing

Let's go to some keys of posing now. That's how you get great composition. But also, posing is key, too. So let's get into this, some guidelines. Let me give you some general guidelines that really work for anything. Some keys to posing, what is it? It's maximizing beauty. Beauty sells, okay? So the more you can maximize it, the more cash you're gonna make. That's just plain and simple. You're constantly maximizing beauty and that's what portraiture is. Posing is the art of maximizing the beauty and the human form. Every great pose starts with a realistic and organic emotion. It's not just all technical, turn there, point there, look there, bam, you take a shot. Your photos are not gonna have a realistic feel to it. It must be an organic response of your subject. Your subject has to look like it's very natural and give you some sort of emotion. Emotion is the very, the smallest kernel of telling a story. Do you hear that all the time? Oh, you need to tell a story with your photos. Well...

, emotion is the smallest kernel of a story. So if I'm trying to act all demure, telling a story, right? (speaker laughing) Right, that's a story. And that's what you're trying to get from your clients, is some sort of emotion. But it has to look natural, has to look organic. Posing is both technical and emotional. You need both. The first seven years of my career, I used to be a math major so everything was formulaic and I just didn't feel that my image was going anywhere. Once I started adding emotion to my images, that's when I feel I got to that world-class level, is when I really started to feel the emotion of subject and get that organic feel, or create some sort of emotion in my photos, that's when I really started feeling, oh okay, I'm starting to get good here. That was like seven years into my career. But you have creative lives so you should get there in one year. So you got no excuses. (speaker laughing) Okay, must get subjects to buy into the story of emotion. That's huge. So what does that mean? That means your subjects must feel comfortable with you. They must feel confident about what you're doing. Believe it or not, our disposition on who we are, the confidence that we carry, the positive energy that we reflect into our subjects matters. And if we just go, okay, hi, can you stand over there and umm, what should I have you do? How are you gonna feel confident about a photographer like that? Are you gonna get the most out of your subjects? No way, right? Hey, you gonna fake it until you make it. Just be confident, do something. Even if you take a crappy picture, oh, wow, you're looking amazing. Keep going, just keep blasting it through, okay? All right, failure to pose correctly, what happens if you don't know how to pose? Your sessions are gonna be wildly inconsistent because some subjects know how how to pose and others don't. Therefore, if you're trying to create a signature style, a signature brand that's uniquely you and you're all over the map and you're not gonna have a signature style at all. 'Cause some photos are gonna look great on one session and in another session where your subjects are giving you absolutely nothing, it's gonna look terrible. You know what the worst pressure is? Is getting paid a lot of money to take, like, I used to shoot weddings, right? I used to get paid $10,000 to shoot a wedding. What happened if I shoot one wedding great and one wedding terrible? I'm not gonna be able to earn $10,000, because I have to have consistent results. And so if you don't have consistent results, you're not gonna get paid. That's why you have to really dedicate yourself to learning how to pose. Okay, so tips that work in any situation, nose towards the light. I keep repeating it over and over and over again, but I'm always surprised when I have students, we go out and shoot and I'm reviewing the work and the first thing, the nose is not to the light because they're so preoccupied with so many other things. And they forget the one key thing. But that's one key thing. Keep the nose towards the light all the time. Body away from the light. Especially if they're a bride and they're wearing white. Why is that? (students speaking indistinctly) Okay, yes, the shadow. So here's white and isn't this brighter than my face? If the light is hitting this equally, here and here, this is always gonna be brighter. That's correct, right? Your eye always goes to the brightest point of a picture. When you take a shot and they're wearing white, your eye's gonna go down to the bright dress. If I turn it away, I'm gonna start to get shadow. Don't you start to see shadow here? And then I put the face towards the light, here, this is the brightest point when you're wearing white. It is a necessity to do this when they're wearing something lighter than their face color. If it's lighter, then this is a must. Now she's wearing something that's darker than her face color. Is that correct? So she can go ahead and both things can face the light and her face will still be the brightest part, so you don't have to worry about it. You get a little bit more freedom when they're wearing a color darker than their face color. But if not, the reason why you want to do it also, is that it gives you shape and we'll kind of get into that a little bit. Shift weight to one leg completely. You'll notice on all my photos here, where they're posed, is that you're always gonna see the subject have one leg completely straight and all the weight on that leg. And that's the key. Keep one leg very straight and break the spine. If you look at your photos and you see stiffness, the reason why they're stiff is because that spine is not broken. It's perpendicular to the ground. But if I have it lean back or lean forward, I got a sexy eye on, right? (students and speaker laughing) I enjoy that a little bit too much. But anyway, if you pop the hip at least, then you're breaking that spine. It's not looking rigid. So if you ever feel like your photos feel a little bit stiffness to it, it's most likely the spine is perpendicular to the ground. Okay?

Class Description

There is no excuse to not take an amazing photograph. Award-Winning photographer Scott Robert Lim in this exclusive course shows how composition, posing and light must work together to create WOW and impact. He'll also discuss how using film and vintage polaroids can enhance images using natural light. 


Leah Hinds

Love this course! It's a quick and fast paced run down on some basic poses that you can carry over into any situation. I love Scott Robert Lim, he is energetic, funny and doesn't mind a joke at his own expense. I love everything about him! I learn the most from him because I remember his own attempt at posing it or his jokes. I find it hard to remember stuff at the time during a shoot but this info will stick. Thanks so much, more please.


This class is amazing, I learned much more in the 90 minutes of this class, than I ever thought I would (as far as composition and simple posing). Scott is FANTASTIC!!! I love his knowledge and energy!!!

Scott Joy

Scott is awesome and incorporates passion, energy and fun into his teaching!