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Demo: Body Posture & Angles

Lesson 4 from: Powerful Portraits using Body Language and Lighting

Stacy Pearsall

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Lesson Info

4. Demo: Body Posture & Angles


Lesson Info

Demo: Body Posture & Angles

Alright, so what I'm going to do now is nab a volunteer. You're gonna leave that notebook (audience laughs) right on that seat for me. And, have a seat. Okay. Are you nervous? A little bit, yeah. I can tell. (audience laughs) Okay. So, where are your hands right now? Kind of hidden. Kind of hidden. When somebody hides their hands, and we're gonna talk about hands very extensively in another segment and then you just went like this. Mm-huh. That's a very feminine thing. Okay. That's a masculine, feminine. We're gonna talk about that as well, but before we get to that, (audience laughs) You guys are like, "What is happening to this poor woman right now?" (audience laughs) Okay, so tell me, when you are out and about, how do you like to carry yourself? Um, I'm usually pretty upright, I'd say, and I think confident, but who knows (laughs). Okay. In my mind I am. In your mind you are. Yeah. Okay, so when you think confidently, let's stand up together. Whe...

n you walk into a room, where do you find your hands? I think, just down by my side or kinda, you know, like a receptive position. Like floating. (audience member laughs) I don't know, I feel like I have to practice, I'm not sure. No you don't, okay so here's the thing, body language is very instinctive, it's going to come through and manifest about the emotions that we're feeling. Mm-huh. So right now, this is really great, actually, and we're gonna talk about, like posture in another segment. But what you're doing, is you're naturally having your hips angled, do you see that? Do you realize you're doing it? No. Of course you don't and then your feet are actually facing, they're they're spread apart, which means confident. Your toes are pointed toward them, so you're happy to be here, that's good, your shoulders are nice and rolled back so you're feeling comfortable, the only one dead give away right now is your head posture. Oh, what am I doing Well, we're talk about that in another segment. Okay. Thank you so much, I'm, what's your name? Kristen. Kristen, thank you for participating. Okay, go ahead and have a seat. Interestingly enough, when I was talking about the difference of self soothing and preening, and all of the sort of micro gestures that we do, it can say a lot about a person's comfort level. So if you're in a dynamic situation, sometimes our comfort is dictated by the environment around us. As a portrait photographer, what we, the energy level we have in the studio or the space in which we're photographing, can definitely impact the interaction we have with our subjects. So it's important that we control our environments, not to the point of like dictating how things are going to roll, but controlling what we bring to the table, and I'm going to discuss that in another segment. So right now I want to ask if we have questions, which she's raising her hand saying, "Yes we do." Yes we do, Stacy, first of all, Jennifer Patsellis says, "This isn't a question, but please let Stacy know this is" 'very interesting and helpful to think about posture." And it really is, there's so many nuances (laughs) that we're so unaware of, so just this awareness is amazing. And so, one question came in from Stan, "In what circumstance would the fight or flight posture" "be a good portrait," or are we just now not really getting into... Oh, that's a fantastic question and thanks for asking that. That example that I gave with somebody's body angled away, after speaking with this individual, um, they had experienced a lot of emotional trauma during their time in war, and they were intubating to me, that they had a hard time going out in public, they had a hard time in social settings and in my observation and conversation with that individual, I observed their body language and their behavior. It's really important for us to be keen on that when we're in, the sort of dialogue phase, which there's a whole segment about that too. That said, I'm not here to make somebody out to be someone they're not, I am meant to capture their story as they really are, and this particular individual is in the place in their life where they're feeling like they're constantly under threat. That they're feeling like they're turned away from society. So it was a conscious choice to embrace that part for that particular portrait. The thing is, portrait photography isn't about you. For me, as a journalist, it's about telling somebody else's story, not mine, so I try not to project my own emotions and feelings into that situation or into another individual's life. For people who do commercial photography or they create glamour portraits, and by that I mean anything you see in Cosmo, or Vanity Fair, these images are, in essence, an individual who's created. Models are essentially actors, and so they are acting out an alternative reality, I don't deal with that. I deal with real people. When dealing with real people, you're dealing with real emotions and experiences. You're dealing with real life human people with non verbal communication and eye contact and words and exchange. So regardless of if the individual's in a dark place, that's who they are in this moment and I'm not about to project some la-la land alternative to who they are. I have been in situations where I have photographed an individual after breaking through this sort of projected barrier, and only to get a response from their family saying, "Wow, you really, really" "captured them, this is the person I see at home." It's not who we always think we are. That is the very telling part of being observant, watchful, intuitive, and then carrying that over and interpreting that creatively, through the use of embracing organic posing. So question, "Stacy, if I'm photographing someone" "and having a hard time getting them out of their shell" "because they are self soothing a lot, so you're picking" "out from the self soothing, what should I do?" That's a good question, embrace it, don't fight it. Because there's something really interesting about when we talk with our hands, for instance, like I do, almost too much, when somebody is self soothing, you can actually embrace that part photographically. Charlie's snoring like a banshee. (laughs) For everybody at home, Charlie is making a ruckus. Um, now, self soothing can be embraced by capturing a moment. The one thing that I wanted to tell you a little bit, as a journalist, my approach to photography was always to observe a room, and a dynamic of individuals, again, assessing my environment. Seeing where the light is coming from, because as a journalist, I couldn't add light or manipulate it, I could only deal with what was given in front of me. I would find the right place, knowing and anticipating action and where it was going, I would settle down, and wait for moments to come to me instead of chasing them. I have a method called the ten frame methodology. In the ten frame methodology, is finding that space that's the perfect frame, and waiting for ten successive moments to happen, and they don't have to be like in rapid succession, you may be there for ten minutes, you may be there for an hour, for some nature photographers who's waiting for that right moment, you may be there day and a half. But waiting for ten moments to happen, when you pull your images up and you're editing suite, the frames shouldn't change at all, the only thing that should be changing are the moments happening within that frame. I wrote a blog about that for Creative Live, it's online, so if you want to learn a little bit more in depth about the ten frame methodology, it's on there. It applies to all types of photography. The one thing I want to impress upon you, is right now, we are missing moments, there are things happening outside that are awesome, there are moments happening half way around the globe, all we can worry about is the sphere in which we are in, to be mindful and present of mind, in that moment, to capture those leaks of emotion, those micro gestures, that includes, what we would perceive as photographers, and again, it's not about the photographer, it's about the subject. It is what we perceive as bad behavior or an unwanted behavior, we need to take our own bias out of that situation and embrace who these individuals are. They're the subjects, it's not about us, it's about them. So how do we amplify and best accentuate these behaviors and that humanality of these individuals to best showcase their story? So for somebody who is incessantly preening, don't fight it, let it happen, let that be part of your ten frames, let that unravel them as a story, and if you're not allowing them the outlet to vent that anxiety and that energy, then you're not allowing them to have a safe space and it is all about trust and feeling secure. He had his hand up first and then I'm gonna come back to you, yes. Yeah, I had a question, is there a particular way that you approach your own body language to better enable the subject to pervade their own? That's a great question. Yes, each and every individual that I meet, I am allowing myself time to observe them before I approach my own body language. When I approach somebody, no matter what I'm doing, it's very open cause I'm allowing that space, allowing them into my intimate space, which I'm gonna talk about people's personal bubbles, in another segment, cause it's so important, and allowing myself to observe what their threshold is. There's also a technique called mirroring and matching. So I'm going to watch their body language and behavior, and let them feel more comfortable by almost mirroring and matching, so I'm going to match their level energy, I'm gonna talk about that again in another segment, and I'm gonna talk about mirroring as well. When somebody does that, it almost puts us at ease, cause we're like, "Okay, take a breath, gaw," "that feels really good." Cool, we've got some similarities here in personality. So that allows them that space to be more relaxed, I hope that answered your question. [Man Who Asked Question] Yeah, totally. Great. My question is, when I do half sessions, and I usually have 20 minutes to 30 minutes, when someone shows up at my studio and to photograph them and get to know them, I often don't know whether they're in a shell that I need to break through, if it's really who the person is and I should work with that, do you have any techniques for figuring it out really quickly and working that? Yeah, the answer is, everybody does. I have yet to meet an individual who's just so thread bare and open that they're not putting up some sort of protective wall, it's instinct, I mean we all do it, especially with people we don't know. I don't know you from Adam, so there's this level of, I'm gonna pick on you now. (audience laughs) There's this level of discomfort when somebody gets in your personal space and you don't really know them so immediately you're kind of inching away, you don't even know that it's happening, I can see you kind of just , even kind of backing away, cause when I get into your space, and you're like, "I don't know this person," and especially if I touch you here, yeah, that immediate response, did you see his shoulders go up just a little, like uhhh, what, that's weird. Like there's safe zones and stuff, now I'm gonna talk a lot about that aspect of touch and personal bubble and breaking through, so there are a number of techniques to do that, what I'll reveal to you now, is that we get back what we put out. It's a boomerang effect, so if you come into your studio like, "Hey, I'm Stacy, so you need your head shot, great" "come on over here, come on, let's put that down," "put that down, come on." (audience laughs) "Sit right here, what do you need this for," "Linkedin?" Yeah, Linkedin profile. Okay, good, do you always wear glasses? Yes. "Okay, well, alright, we'll keep'em on." (audience laughs) There's a lot going on, um, and that's not doing any favors. So I'm giving short, sort of demanding commands, and what I'm getting back is short, abbreviated answers, right? But if I take a different approach, "So what do you do for a living?" I'm a full time photographer, myself. "You are?" Yes. "Okay, and what do you like to photograph?" I do natural photography, natural maritime, construction photography, for the most part. "Sounds really technical, do you have a background" "in engineering or..." Actually, my previous job was a fishery biologist. "What, so you are a science guy, okay, that makes sense." "Um, and what exactly are you going to do down the road" "do you have any long term photography endeavors? Yes, so I'm a, I switched from fishery biology to photography a couple years ago, so I do full time photography now, and, because I'm not good at working for other people, so I figure I should work for myself. "Okay, well, awesome." What I want, and we're gonna do this a lot throughout this course, is doing examples about how body language changes when we change our dynamic. So being abrasive, causes somebody to sort of physically clam up, and not only that, but there's a mirroring effect, when I project, sort of, overconfidence, vibrato, I'm going to get, almost a defensive, staccato response. More importantly, seven percent of what we communicate through, are our words. 38% is in the inflection of those words. Which means that over 55%, or exactly 55% of what we say is what we're not saying. I like that shirt. I love that shirt. Thank you, I like it too. That is such a good shirt. Great shirt. Thanks. Nice shirt. So again, the words are the same, the meanings the same, in writing, or how I'm saying it, the context, or the inflection has a lot of variance. But my body language speaks a lot, so if I were like, nice shirt. Wow, great shirt. All of these things have an impact. I know that seems really superficial in that example of what I'm saying, however, everything we are doing, and everything we're communicating is saying something. So the way I approach you, the way I shake your hand, which we're gonna talk about that, like nobody likes the vise grip, but nobody likes the limp fish either, right? So we're gonna talk about energy and we're gonna talk about our own body language, and how our body language is perceived and how if we're not liking a certain energy exchange, or if an individual seems like they are just not cooperating, how our own dynamics can take control of the room in a positive way, and having a shift in energy levels. Thank you for your support, I'm gonna have you grab your, Go grab your seat, oh, I'm just kidding. (audience laughs)

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