Organic Posing: Embracing the Subject’s Presence


Powerful Portraits using Body Language and Lighting


Lesson Info

Organic Posing: Embracing the Subject’s Presence

Now for the last, and one of the most important parts... Organic Posing. I am not somebody who forces anybody into a position that doesn't seem natural to them. I observe their body language naturally and how they naturally like to present themselves to others, and I incorporate that into the portraits that I create. And I call that organic posing. And I've preached this all day. Everybody say it with me. It's the subject that makes the portrait. It's the photographer who captures it. Okay, ready? (students laugh) [Stacy and Students] It's the subject that makes the portrait. It's the photographer who captures it. With that concept, we are allowing our subjects to be themselves and offering a platform for them to express and empower themselves to reveal who they really are. Through that organic posing idea, sometimes, what I'll do is I'll demonstrate to them how exactly I want them to start out, 'cause sometimes it's just about getting them into the studio. Once I sat Darcy down, d...

id I manipulate her or ask her to move left or right once she was sitting? No, we just went right to shooting, right? So I'd say, "Hey, do you mind just sitting?" If I'm demonstrating, I'll usually say something of the tone like, "I don't often use my words very well and articulate. "I'm not very articulate. "Do you mind if I just show you what I'm looking for?" This is only after I've observed their body language during our initial meeting. Like, "You know, if you don't mind, just sitting down? "If it feels natural to put your foot up "on that bottom rung, go ahead and do that. "If you feel like you need both feet down, "that's cool too. "If you feel so inclined, and crossing your leg "is what you naturally would do, feel right to it." So I'm demonstrating to them that there are multiple options that best suit who they are, demonstrating. Another key part is offering visual cues. Who have I not done yet today? Nobody, oh, I haven't, yeah, yeah. Come on. (students laugh) Have a seat right there on that stool for me. I'm Stacy. Hi, I'm Janice. Janice, I thought you were gonna say, "Blair." I'm Blair. (all laugh) Blair. Okay, so great, I'm really glad. Does that feel comfortable to you? It is high. It is high, right? Yeah. It feels really... I guess-- That's fine, keep your feet right there. I'm doing just what Blair did. That's good. Blair, (laughing) Darcy, okay. So now that I have you in the seat, what I would do is if something feels just a little slightly off and I don't feel, like right now your body posture's a little closed, and I might actually offer you a more open position from which I observed when we were conversating upon meeting. Mm-hm. So you know, I actually, I think, if you don't mind coming to the edge of the stool, just bring your bum to the edge. Good, does that-- I think we can get her a shorter stool, if you want. Oh, shorter stool, hey, look at that. Yes, please. Trade ya. I would lift it, but that's heavy. You go right ahead. That feel better? Yeah. Good. You can cross your ankles. (students laughing) I know. I'm like, what to do? Now please, what am I Cross your ankles. saying, you know? Don't worry, I want you to be you in this moment. Okay, good. So if I'm thinking, okay, that's great. You know what would be good? If you just... I'm gonna have you just follow me a little bit. Good, good. Great, you've got your left foot forward. Do you mind if we just switch how they're... Yeah, now we're cooking. And follow me with your chin just like so, good. So I'm offering visual cues about what I need. Okay, so I'm combining my words. And sometimes because I have my camera behind my face, you won't be able to see my mouth or hear the words coming. So I'm using my non-verbals to allow you to kind of follow me. And the next part is mirroring. Do you mind standing up for me? See how I use that visual cue? Uh-huh. (singing) Stand up. It's the universal word. Okay. So what I like to do, sometimes, just say, "Okay, just take a nice deep breath in." (inhaling loudly) Shake it off. Shake it off, (singing) sha boop boop, right? Okay, so follow me like we're a mirror, okay? Okay. Just rotate a little bit. Good, now bring your chin back. Drop that, drop that head. No, no, no, no, no. I like your swagger. Right, let's come back to center again. Good, take your left foot and drop it back. Good, I like that. Now bring your chin this way, up a little bit. Now isn't she looking good? Mm-hmm, come back down just a hair. Ooh, I like sassy! (students laugh) Ah, that's good. Great, do you ever cross your arms? Uh-huh. You do? You look like a gal who likes that for comfrey. Oh this? Do you-- No, I think... Do you cowboy? No, I think this is it. My shoulder's kinda hurting today, so I'm trying to figure out what's-- Oh, let's not hurt your shoulder. Would this feel better? Yeah. Does that feel good? Mm-hm. Is that something you'd normally do? Mm-hm. You're lying through your caps. (students laugh) I think I might do this. Okay, okay. So that's how I would use, between demonstrating, offering visual cues, and then offering a mirror version of what I want, would allow me to have you empowered to kind of add your own. I didn't say, "Do exactly what I do." I said, "Just follow me a little bit, "maybe just try to turning a little bit." And then you're coming into something that's comfortable for you. Mm-hm. And you're finding a body posture that works for you. I'm just saying, I'm offering an opportunity for you to accentuate what I saw in you upon first meeting. Mm-hm. Cool? Okay, thanks for participating. Lastly, there's the physical manipulation aspect. Come on up here. You knew it was coming. I did. (singing) Do a little dance. All right, Stacy. Eric. Eric, I love that you open your neck to me every time. I thought about it You're like-- when I did it just now. I was like... You did it again. All right, come have a stand right here for me. Good, and come to your right. Perfect. Shake it off. Where are you from? Florida, moved here six years ago. What part of Florida? From the Space Coast. I never quite know what to say when people ask that, 'cause it's a little town called Titusville. It's near Orlando but on the coast. I got it. Yeah. And what drew you to Washington State? It's far away. And I had a friend who just invited me to stay with him after college. Okay. He said, "What do you wanna do?" And I said, "I don't know." And he said, "Come stay at my place until you get situated." Cool. And it seemed fun. He liked it, he talked it up. Uh-huh. Yeah. Good, okay. And I'm here. So did you see what happened? I didn't even have to ask, because when I shook his hand, he automatically told me I'm open to you, and we're cool, by giving that gesture, with your open neck and your positive affirmation and your eye contact. Through eye contact, I knew that I needn't be like, "I'm gonna touch you now." Mm-hm. I just went in. Did it feel uncomfortable? No. No, exactly. No. So it's again, reading body language and understanding what the threshold of somebody's personal bubble and what I can do and can't do by watching and understanding those non-verbals. Awesome sauce! (claps sharply) Good job. Go ahead and have a seat. Okay, when we use touch to guide our subjects, we're going to go through a pressure and release. Now you felt that pressure when I touched you, and you automatically released to it instinctually. That doesn't mean you're gonna go and shove your subjects around the studio. That just means you're just gonna... Do mind if I just... Okay, good, thank you. Did I apply much pressure? Mm-mm. No, no, no, no, no. But it's just a nice, soft, guiding touch. And again, just from birth, we bond with people more closely, more quickly, when there is touch involved. It's one of the most intimate, tactile things we can do.

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