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Body Posture & Angles

Lesson 3 from: Powerful Portraits using Body Language and Lighting

Stacy Pearsall

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Lesson Info

3. Body Posture & Angles


Lesson Info

Body Posture & Angles

Okay, what I wanna talk about, for a moment, and I know this sounds strange, like, angle is a double entendre, right, the body angle of which we present ourselves, but, the angle of which we approach other people, what's our angle? What I'm gonna talk about now is body posture, particularly, between the shoulders and the hips. The torso, so to speak, torso meaning, there's a Latin word, thyrsus I believe it is. It means tree trunk, not to get too crazy, I'm not that smart, honestly. But how we present these vital organs, including the heart, to other people, can really say a lot about, what we're projecting to other people and what they're projecting to us. So let's talk about that for a minute. Now if you're like position number one, slouched, you may be in a yoga class, or if you're doing this in public in a board meeting, it could mean a whole different thing, see, again, context. Someone who's slouched can be perceived as, being really chill, almost to the point of not really carin...

g, but it could also mean being insecure. When we slouch forward, we're almost reducing our sides, aren't we, so if sit up, I'm taking up a little bit more space, but if slouch and roll forward, I'm almost, like, becoming more diminutive. I'm shrinking in size, and I'm kind of shrinking away from everybody. That's not a bad thing, honestly, 'cause sometimes it's just a posture situation, it just feels so much better not to have to, like, flex my core. But honestly, this can mean that somebody's feeling a little anxious, a little insecure, or it could mean they're just totally comfortable` and totally chill and they roll forward and they don't really care. Does this make any sense? Okay, good. I said this to somebody, I'm like, oh, so you're a sloucher, and they're like "No, no?" Okay, which leads me to, erect posture. Now erect means that the shoulders are rolled back, the chest is exposed, they're forward, it means confidence in a lot of situations. When somebody is direct and their shoulders are rolled back, it just means, like, I'm here, I'm okay, you can come into my space, I'm owning this space. You meet people like that and you're like okay, I can, it's almost approachable. Sometimes when people are closed off like this it's a little less approachable. You have to go with a little bit more kid gloves, now on the opposite spectrum, there's direct and square. If we've ever turned the television on and watched, say, a documentary about animals interacting in the wild, and again, if we bring it down to the simplest terms, I'm not saying y'all are gazelles, or lions, maybe a combination of both, wouldn't that be interesting, all I'm saying is that we have a lot of these animalistic natures, body language has a lot to do with that. If you see animals in the wild, say, two mountain sheep, two big-horn mountain sheep facing off with each other, they're gonna look at each other head on. Can you stand up for me? What's your name? Serite. Sahveet, Yeah. Did I say that right? Almost. Aww, I'll work on that. Why don't you come stand here for me? Now we're two big-horn mountain sheep and we're facing down, this is my herd, and you wanna come and get my herd. (audience laughing) What approach are you going to take? Exactly, you're gonna come at me like, with the most, like-- Biggest I can. The biggest you can, sure, and that's gonna be square, it's gonna be straight forward, direct, and if you can increase your size like a peacock, y'know when they increase their size, or when the cat poofs up, y'know it's like pff, like that. 'Cause I know you guys are all cat people. (audience laughter) Translating, so you wanna have square. Now, when we walk into certain situations, or somebody's approaching us, why don't you go ahead a stand there, and right there, good, and you're just chillin'. We don't know each other from Adam. And I'm like. Yeah, exactly, we immediately, we immediately shrink back, because it's an aggressive posture. Mhm, yeah. All right, thank you so much. When somebody is standing square, and direct, and coming at you, it's intimidating, it's aggressive, it's often an overly confident, aggressive stance, which is why we tend to shrink back from that posture. That's not to be confused with erect posture, which is, just an air of confidence. Because I could be standing here and this is an erect posture. But if I bow up, then I'm standing direct and square, that's a whole 'nother level of energy, okay? That's why it's used a lot in the military. I'm gonna show you later on about leg posture, and how that is interpreted, and when I was in the service, this particular direct and square stance was something we used on a daily basis. Because it's very stand your ground, it's very aggressive, and it's very ownership of the space. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you wanna come at somebody with sort of an open air, confident, yet open, you're gonna slightly angle your body. I'm not meaning like, turning away, like this, what I'm saying is I'm not gonna stand square onto you, but rather I'm gonna say, hey how you doin'? I'm gonna angle my body just slightly away. And I'm gonna use that purposefully, so, I'm saying, I know that sounds really strange, right? But if I have my hips kind of turned away, it's a less, hey. (audience laughing) But if angle ever, and it doesn't have to be a side show, like, hey, like a playboy bunny dip. (audience laughter) It's not like that. When we're angled, it's less aggressive it's more welcoming, it's inviting, it's not a stand your ground situation. On the other hand, if you have an arch nemesis, which I hope you don't, but when you're kids on the playground for instance, this is a good example, and there's somebody who doesn't like you, or you don't like them and they see you and they immediately turn around, getting back to that very basic idea of animal instinct, is the fight or flight. Like "Oh my god, did they see me? "I hope they didn't see me. "Quick, go the other direction. "Run awayy!" So when somebody's angled away they're feeling, intimidated, or they feel a threat, so you wanna turn away from that threat, with the obvious, whatever your foot direction is going is the way you're trying the head. We'll talk about feet and legs later, 'cause it's very telling. But being angled away, it's, and again, coming back, and we're gonna talk about this area as well, it's our heart, and our vital organs. And it's also where our energy source lives, and I know you just came came back off a yoga retreat, so she caught me, we were doin' prepro yesterday, and I was talking about energy, and how we have different levels. And it all starts in here. So, with the way we angle our body, we're trying to protect our vital organs, so if you feel a threat, the natural instinct is to turn away and to close your neck off. So angling away, when somebody angles away from you, that means you need to step back. And if you feel yourself doing that, you need to identify where the threat is coming from. It's all happening subconsciously.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with RSVP

Gear List

Bonus Materials with Purchase

The Foundations of Light (PDF)
The Accents of Light (PDF)

Ratings and Reviews

Julie V

I had the chance to sit in the audience and absolutely loved this class! First of all, Stacy is very funny and is really good at explaining and showing examples of the body language. I loved learning about how to read people faces and body to know more about them. And recommended the class to my husband who is a therapist for this reason. The other part of the class was so awakening, I never really thought about how having the wrong lighting for someone's personality would bring something off on the picture. Once again, Stacy was amazing at explaining why this lighting would work with one person and not another by showing us examples. If you want to bring your subject personality into life on photos, I highly recommend this class!

a Creativelive Student

This class is amazing! Stacy is an awesome person and listening to her teach and review the class concepts was so easy and fun and entertaining! It is jam packed with information on how to connect with talent and clients. Plus you get to see Stacy in action with subjects in the Demo and Shoot videos. I highly recommend this class! I learned so much and feel so much more comfortable and confident working with a variety of people now.

Jovi Jhash

wow, what an amazing class to learn from. you covered all from body language to storytelling and to reveal almost the true souls of the subjects through portraits. Amazing work and thank you so much, Stacy and creative live team. Stay blessed

Student Work