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Pay Attention to Body Position

Lesson 9 from: Powerful Portraits using Body Language and Lighting

Stacy Pearsall

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Lesson Info

9. Pay Attention to Body Position

Next Lesson: The Head Position


Lesson Info

Pay Attention to Body Position

Well, okay, so we've talked about body language previously, we've talked about legs, arms, hands, but there's so much more to body language and communication than just those body parts. As I said, we can break down each part that says something. Let's talk about the body as a whole. Which one of these options do you think best denotes you, Miss Lounger? The first one. Yes, exactly! Good, cause almost-- Okay, everybody stop what you're doing, don't move an inch! (audience laughs) Look at that picture, then look right in the front row. Charlie, I think, fits in part number one as well. He's completely relaxed. What does number two say to you? I'm listening. Okay, so you're thinking that she's saying she's listening? What is it about her body posture? Nothing. Yes. Well, for the arms, it's crossing kinda, might be a barrier, but those legs are open, Oh! so, I'm not sure. Okay. But what's between her legs? A barrier. A barrier, exactly. So between her arms, That's tru...

e. She's just kinda putting the top caps, so to speak, on that barrier. What about number three? What does it say to you? We don't have to answer it right now because we're gonna do a demonstration when we get back to that one. Oh, you had a thought? [Woman With Gray Hair] Confident. Do you want the microphone? Maybe. (audience laughs) Say it confidently then. Confident! (laughs) Okay, confidence! (laughs) Good, okay, I like that. And, how about, how aboutthe second to last? Wanting to look confident but still just a little shy. The shoulders look high to me like -- Like a little tense, maybe? Not really unsure. Yeah. Okay, alrighty. And then number four he also has his hand down like look at me. I like what (mumbles) You're thinking there. Good, okay. Anything else about that particular body posture? He looks like he's waiting for something to happen? Oh my gosh, nailed it! Alright, so, you had the "I'm ready to run" like posture this morning. If you take that "I'm ready to run" like posture, then you kinda have the foundation of what that particular posing of posture is, right? Look at his arm, Akimbo! At least half committed, but then he's, like, don't worry, I'm a little relaxed. But that, if you just take that, into a standing position, then becomes "ready to run," so we'll talk a little more about that. How about the very last? Okay, you guys, (audience laughs) she's like half committed, (audience laughs) maybe... Honestly, he looks confident, but he's not gonna let you see who he really is. Ooh, I like that! Okay, alright, so let's talk a little bit about the lounger. (audience laughs) Non-aggressive, just chilling out, I'll probably find you this way reading a book at home, petting your cat. You were one of the cat people, right? That's right, okay. (audience laughs) So, relaxed. Depending on the rest of one's body language in this sort of lounging repose, it could say relaxed, but it could also say indifferent. (woman in audience mumbles) No, no, no, of course not. (audience laughs) No, of course not. I know how to read the entire package, but knowing that, having context, definitely may sway how you feel about somebody. You would not feel appropriate sitting like this in a board meeting, I'd hope. Or during an interview because this just says "I'm totally relaxed, and in this moment, I'm just really, really chill." It doesn't necessarily say that you don't care. It's just that you're utterly relaxed. Okay, but that might be misconceived or misconstrued by others. Same with this one, 'cause these two might be a relaxing situation, but -- if you ever watch movies, and pay attention to this, somebody's in a conversation with somebody, and this is almost like a boxing ring, right? They're, like, "let me tell you somethin'." It all of the sudden becomes an aggressive thing. I have my legs, they're apart, and they're ready to stand and I can fight 'cause they're stable. So my legs are in that, sort of, remember the open legs? Open legs ready for anything, ready for action, If I just throw the arms on there, then I got it. But then I'm also in this sort of protective mode. And, then, literally a physical barricade between myself and whoever's between, okay? So, I'm guarding my most crucial part, my torso, my trunk, my energy source, my special intestines, and my heart. And I got 'em all blocked. Now, taking this body posture, and coupling it with what we've learned from previous segment. My legs say something, now this posturing says something, most importantly my arms. What does this say? I'm listening. You're listening, good, 'cause your arms are this sort of hand support of the head means attentive, depending on context. (audience mumbles) Perfect. (audience mumbles) So there's a lot of words going around. For those of you who are watching online, that's saying thinking, waiting, what were some of the other words? Hiding. Hiding. Good, 'cause now I'm hiding my face, right? I'm blocking that other point of expression, that other point of communication, so, now, not only am I blocking my vital organs, but now I'm blocking my other way of communication with my mouth. We're gonna talk about the face a little later. So, if I'm like this, I'm literally draping myself over. This kinda combines first number one and number two. The lounging, really relaxed, but also feeling secure because now I have a barricade, and I don't have to necessarily worry so much about protecting my physical body myself. I've got an ornament or an object doing that for me. Interesting, right? And again, you wanna embrace this idea. When you meet somebody, who are they in what context and their body language? What best works for them? That guy, right there, is a professional boxer. So, for me, when we were having a conversation, she would be the kind of guy I'll be like, did you see that in the second round? Oh my gosh, like, I can totally -- That's just her. And she doesn't look defensive, and she doesn't look very aggressive, but that's just a confident ready for anything kinda picture. What do you think? Now, this one, on the other hand, is, in my opinion, so much more aggressive. It's called the "catapult." Look at his body posture. Is he leaning in? Or away? Can I have another chair prop, please? And I'm just gonna have you face it right towards this one for me. Thank you. Who have I not picked on yet? (audience laughs) (mumbles) Come on up! (audience giggles) I'm Stacy. [Woman in Teal Blouse] Hi, I'm Laurie. Laurie, very nice to meet you. Prepare yourself. (audience laughs) Have a seat! So, if you and I were in a conversation, maybe we don't know each other, maybe we do, you're sitting relatively erect, confident, your foot still ready to run, (woman in audience laughs) but that's okay. Be you. Now, catapulting, is when -- I'm gonna come a little bit closer because I'm gonna simulate like we're in a photo shoot, okay? If somebody catapults like this, does this look relaxed? What does it look like to you? Tense. (audience mumbles) For my feet? In a running position? To the tension in the spring in my arm, To the tension rocking down from this shoulder to this arm, is all very aggressive. Mhm. It also -- come toward me a little bit. Lean on in! (audience laughs) But if I come forward like this, you're gonna instinctively come back, right? Mhm. So catapulting, coming back is like "come on over here." If you do, I'll pounce. It's that sort of leaping forward. Everything about that body posture is in the mode to spring. Mhm. Okay, and it's not a bad thing to have but -- It can often send the wrong message. I kept that picture in so that we could see -- If you wanna turn toward everybody else. Do you, just relax. Alright, I like the lounge. Looks good. This is just the lounge, slash we're gonna get to the hurdler in a minute. Catapulting... can be construed as being insecure, aggressive, ready to run, ready to pounce. But here's the thing, it's one of the biggest dynamics when dealing with interaction with people. Catapult is meant to draw you in so that you can have an advantage when leaping on your prey. It's a very predator pose for me. It's one that I don't necessarily like, but if it's who they are, then that's what I'll do. Yeah, my impression of that photo of him is kind of a cockyness. Yes, exactly, look at his face. We're gonna talk about facial expressions in another segment but, oh no, it's actually coming up in this one. That whole package is just... He's a guy I would not want to run into in a bar 'cause he'd be the stalker. I love you, by the way, he's a really great guy. so don't take it the wrong way, no. In this particular picture, that's what is being projected. Thanks for participating. Okay, now, the starter is just how it sounds. It's like somebody who's at a track who's about to run a race in there in the starter position. Ready for anything, ready for action. It's engaged, ready, positive, assertive, but depending on the rest of the body language that coincides with that, may give off another message. As I've already pointed out, he has one arm akimbo, one arm here kinda pointing towards his goods, so it's a very masculine idea. His head -- We're gonna talk about head tilting and eye contact in a minute. But that, too, weighs in how this picture or that particular pose is perceived. Oh, the good ol' cowboy. (audience giggles) It is so funny that this example is literally a cowboy doing the cowboy 'cause you don't have to be a cowboy to do the cowboy's stance. I just thought it would be funny. Anyway, so the cowboy you can see is that sort of like relaxed, open, confident, pointing to where you should be looking. Girls do this too, it's not just the boys, and men, or wherever you decide you're falling in. It's just a position that some people often assume 'cause it's comfort but also confident. (audience giggles) I like to call that the "on the prowl" pose. Well, hey, ma'am, how you doin'? (audience giggles) Can I get you a cocktail? (audience laughs)

Class Materials

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Gear List

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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