Powerful Portraits using Body Language and Lighting

Lesson 5/39 - Dissecting Gestures in Body Language


Powerful Portraits using Body Language and Lighting


Lesson Info

Dissecting Gestures in Body Language

How much of body language signals, verbal, non-verbal of this, are cultural? (laughing) And so do the same gestures mean the same thing in different cultures? And how do we know, how do we approach this? Yeah, that's fantastic. Great question. Universally, our body language, the most honest simplistic basic level is universal. It's a universal language. We have the... And we have the... All of these things mean the same regardless of where we're born, okay. But there are some cultural nuances and again, it's about environment and surroundings that impact us from birth. And I was just talking to somebody yesterday and we had this discussion. And I'm gonna talk about personal bubbles. But when we're born, depending on where we're born and the culture in which you were raised, our threshold for people being in our comfort zone is different. We here in the United States have a tendency to have a much broader bubble. Our most intimate circle is a lot more extended out than say, when I wen...

t to Korea. It was so uncomfortable for me because the personal bubbles there are a lot smaller and in Europe, they like to do the cheek-kissing thing and I'm like, whoa, that's bizarre. I got accustomed to it after a while but, and again, all of these cultural instincts, are you from Europe, is that why you're laughing? You're like... Where are you from? Israel. Okay, well. Yeah, I think the United States, we're like, handshakes. And I'm gonna talk about, even despite having a wider, more extended bubble, how we as photographers must break through this barrier, not only in the sort of personal and emotional connection way, but to literally, physically break through somebody's personal bubble and how we can do that in steps to make that a more easy space to get to. Any other questions in the room? You have another one? I have another one from online. Thank you everyone for your questions. You've talked a little bit about how when people maybe aren't feeling that comfortable and how you're using your own body language. Do you ever get the sense that the lights are something that can be overwhelming for people? And exciting too. The question is, how do I get my subjects to focus on the session and not the gear and stuff that's goin' around? Like anything that we do, there are distractions. And those distractions can be unwanted and it could be pulling one away from the actual exchange in which we're having. I encourage photographers to always have their cameras sort of on them so that it becomes one and the same. It's just a part of you. And even, I would go as far as to keep, let me just demonstrate, when I meet my clients, I either have my camera over my shoulder like this, and so when I actually go to meet them, it's a physical part of me. It's an extension of who I am. And when I'm talking to them and having conversations, I will actually begin to have it more elevated and closer to my face so that it's not a distraction when I finally do pull, because this movement, this activity, I'm now creating a physical barrier between my subject and myself which I worked really hard to make a connection and now I'm suddenly putting this giant object between the two of us. So if I keep it here, and it is already visible, and there is a sort of physical distraction between us, it's less distracting when I actually just do this number. Does that make sense? That goes with lights as well. Depending on the lights that you're using, and for this course, I'm going to be using continuous lights tomorrow to demonstrate light and light and mood. But when I'm out in the studio, I'm using strobes. So they're gonna be popping, they're gonna be doin' this number which is why I have the modeling lights running so that the lights are already on. So I'm not suddenly (popping) where were you last weekend? (laughs) With the lights coming on here like, oh, no, I'm blind! (laughing) You know? That they're walking into a situation that's gonna already be familiar as I'm establishing that. And then I'm going to just occasionally like, hey, I'm just gonna test my lights as we talk, is that okay? And then I'll pop my lights. I've already tested my lights, like an hour ago. I already know I'm dialed-in or at least relatively close. I'm doing it so that they grow accustomed to that distraction before I put them into when it really counts. And honestly, they're not gonna know when it's gonna start to really count because I'm just gonna flow right from doing my testing to going in to doing portraits. I'm not gonna tell them, okay, so now it's for real, let's really do this. (laughing) That never happens. I'm just like, I'm just gonna do a few tests, just relax. And let's just keep talking. Pop, pop, pop, pop. And they're like, so when are we gonna get started? I'm like, we did, like, 10 minutes ago. You're done, hey, now was that so bad? You know, it's like taking a bandage (ripping), rip it right off. Any other questions out there? We do. Great questions comin' in. This question is, the photographer often finds herself thinking a lot about body language, about her own body language, and it feels like she might be missing the subtle cues from the subject. And so, do you have any advice on focusing less on yourself and trying to like, overthink what you're doing and really, truly putting the focus on the subject? I'm so glad about all these questions because they're so intuitive. And I have a whole segment on that, actually, about observation and how to... I am not gonna bag on my children's generation but they grew up with technology. They grew up with social media. And the selfie is just an everyday occurrence now. We didn't have that. You know, when we took a picture, we had the, like, throwaway film camera and we were taking pictures of each other. It wasn't about taking picture of one's self. So now in this, it sounds really abrasive but the sort of self-absorption that's happening is that we're constantly worried about how do we look and how we are projecting ourselves to other people and taking pictures of ourselves. That constant egocentric outlook on life has really blocked us from the ability to act social and to be more aware of how others are impacted by our presence, not the other way around. It shouldn't be how we look to others, it should be how we are affecting others.

Class Description

Over fifty-five percent of communication is done through non-verbal gestures. It’s essential for photographers to understand the fundamentals of body language in order to better communicate with their clients. In this class, award-winning photographer Stacy Pearsall teaches how to make solid first impressions with your subject through the use of body language.

With her honest and straightforward teaching style, you will learn how to:

  • Observe and decipher non-verbal cues
  • Use light and shadow to convey emotion and create a mood
  • Utilize appropriate lighting for specific personalities
  • Use body language techniques to capture authentic expressions from your subject

During live photo shoots, Stacy will explain and demonstrate from start to finish how to connect with subjects through positive body language, maintain connection by touch and energy, and capture their true likeness with gesture and light. By the end of this class, you will have the tools and confidence to photograph your clients to show their authentic personalities.


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