Skip to main content

Shoot: Body Language & Light

Lesson 35 from: Powerful Portraits using Body Language and Lighting

Stacy Pearsall

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

35. Shoot: Body Language & Light


Lesson Info

Shoot: Body Language & Light

I'm going fishing again. Nobody's ever like, pick me, pick me! Come on, you know you wanna come up here. You stay, good boy. All right. Do you want me with my glasses on or off? I like your glasses. Okay. I like her glasses. Do you like your glasses? No. You don't? No, I hate wearing glasses. But I have to 'cause I'm blind. Aw. Yeah. Well that's too bad. But they look good on your face. Have a seat. So you take pictures of infants. I see you on the move, sir. Charlie, you love her. Every time she's in the studio, you come say hi. Okay, fine. He must just sense you. I know he doesn't smell animals 'cause I don't have any. Maybe he's trying to win you over. Okay, Charlie, place. Very good, good job. So you like doing labor and delivery. Mm-hmm, I do. Okay. What is it about labor and delivery that you enjoy? I think that's it's so different for every single person. And the fact that I get to capture what's happening, most moms forget that. And we always like ...

the partners too. I love when partners are supporting the mom, even if it's just a birthing partner or a husband or a friend or whatever. I just love being able to document those moments, 'cause I forgot both of my births. I had two c-sections, I don't remember anything. So when I give these moms all of their new pictures, they relive it, so, yeah. And I don't cry during. But I cry on the way home. And then I cry when I edit. I'm like, oh my gosh, that's so beautiful. Yeah. It sounds to me like you kind of regret having c-sections. Yes and no. Unless it was a necessity, right? Yeah, my first one I regret having, but my second one was a necessity. So, yeah. Did you have anybody there to photograph your births? They were c-sections, but you can still photograph that. We had like a little Canon Powershot. And on my second c-section, my ex-husband gave it to one of the nurses and she took pictures of the cut, and I was like, oh no. I don't wanna see that. I saw all of that. Was it traumatic? Yeah, I had to delete them. I was like, I can't. You deleted them?? I can't look at, well they're on the cloud. They're on the cloud somewhere. But yeah. Never delete anything. Never. So tell me about your husband. Well I'm not married anymore. Thank you Jesus. All right. Sounds like a healthy transition. Happily divorced for six years. Well that's good. So you're happy, two kids. Genders? My son is 11 and my daughter is seven. Okay. So they're getting into that young adult stage where you can actually have conversations. Yeah, they're fun right now. And you've got puberty. Oh yeah. My son, yeah. How's that going? It's okay. I don't believe you. He wants to grow up so fast, and I'm like, wait. You start junior high next year, let me just savor this moment in fifth grade with you. Are you a hovercraft mom? No I'm not, actually. My mom homeschools them, I work, we do our thing. We're very flexible so we go out on hikes all the time. We'll be like, let's go to Mt. Rainier today. Let's just do school on the mountain. Well that's nice. Yeah, we're flexible. Does your mom live with you? She does, we got divorced at the same time. What! It was like serendipity. You're like, who needs men? We don't need it. Don't need it. Well that's great, that you get along with her well enough to have her She's my best friend. Aw, that's really touching actually. She's in the tribe. I like that. Yeah. Cool. I love hearing stories about family. 'Cause then it makes me feel better about my own too. 'Cause we have crazy dynamics. And that's what's wonderful too, is that we all have these wonderful stories. So you got drawn into doing labor and delivery pictures because of your own experience? Was that it? Yeah, actually yeah. I was doing a lot of doula work at that portion. So I liked to be there, supportive for moms and for dads and grandparents. My girlfriend had asked me one day if I would photograph her birth. I was like, all right, we'll give it a try. And when I came home I said to my husband at that time in my life, I was like, I wanna do this every day. What were you doing for a job then? I was doing newborns and families. Okay, so you were kind of doing more Dogs and everything else under the sun. I got it. Yeah, except for weddings. You were making ends meet. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. So you noticed that your passion lied specifically in the sort of newborn experience. Yeah, and I used to be a massage therapist, and I focused on newborns. So I would do, I used to cranial sacral therapy. So I would focus on newborns and infants. And that took a lot of training. I've kind of always just been sucked into the baby world, I guess. How long was your doula course? Oh god, two years? Yeah, it's wild. So I'm internationally certified. And finishing another international certification to be a master clinical aroma therapist as well. You're a high achiever, woman. I know, unfortunately, some days. Some days I'm like, why? Why am I doing this? I'm tired! So you've got a lot of irons in the fire. What's your locked in passion then? 'Cause it sounds like you have a lot of interests. My locked in passion is babies. So I have my birth and my newborn photography, and then I have my doula agency with my business partner. And then, I do a lot of other stuff in my communities. So, yeah, I just like to, I like to give. I'm a giver. I'm definitely a giver. Do you find that hard? Sometimes. I feed into a lot of people, so sometimes I get really drained. And I need that, I need someone to pour into me right now. I've got a great tribe that, we can all kinda read each other. We're like, oh hey, do you need some loving today? I'll take you out and go get a massage or just come over and let's have a glass of wine or something. So, yeah. How often are you photographing births? I do two a month. Just two. And you're filling the rest of your time how? I charge a lot for my births, so Well good for you. All I need to shoot is two. And I'm good. But I'll do like, usually four to six newborns a month. And then I teach birthing classes, which, I don't make much money off of that but that's okay. 'Cause I'm doing it for the greater good. So you're teaching doula classes? No, birth, like birth education. Oh, for new mothers. I see, okay. That makes sense. A lot of parents don't know stuff that they should be knowing. Well kids don't come with a manual. And women come with a manual, but men usually don't read it. You'd be amazed how many women don't know what's going on down there when they're giving birth. Are you serious? They don't know like, their basic anatomy? Yeah like, we didn't know we had that. I'm like, oh gosh. Really? Yeah. Interesting. So, yeah, it's fun when we get to educate those ladies and we see the husbands and they're like, are you serious? Do you remember Fried Green Tomatoes when they're like, doing the girl meetup thing? I've actually never seen that movie. I know. Be still my Southern heart. Anyway, you could appreciate one of the scenes in that movie, I think. They have this sort of anatomy revealing thing for women who've never seen it. Yeah, it's pretty funny. I'm gonna Netflix it now. You should. To Wanda! Okay. Tell me about your mom a little bit. Oh gosh. My mom's an angel. She's like the calmest, she's probably the calmest force I have ever met in my life. She's patient, but you don't wanna make her mad. 'Cause that's when she blows. And then I find myself, the older I get, the more I'm like my mom. I was gonna ask if you feel like you have I used to be like a total firecracker, and then, the older I've been getting, the more patient I've been getting. And I think that ties into my birth photography and my newborn photography. 'Cause people are like, you're so patient. I'm like, I didn't used to be. So the older I'm getting, in my late 30s, I'm like, all right, I'm getting this patient. So I think I'm getting that from my mom? I don't know. According to Darcy, you'd be ancient at 35. I know, right? So I'm past ancient. But no, my mom, she's amazing. She spoils me and my kids. So, talk to me a little bit about, talk to me a little bit about that transition from being married To divorced? To basically married to your mom. So it was like six-and-a-half years ago. My ex-husband and I, we lived all over the world, 'cause he was military. I'm a former military wife. And we moved to Houston and we got divorced shortly after. So it was like, how do I explain it? It was unexpected? It was unexpected and it was a blessing as well. It was one of those, okay, this isn't a good situation, but he left and he's gone. So yeah, we haven't seen him in six-and-a-half years now. So your children don't see him? No. Probably for the best, right? Sounds like it. I think so. My kids are super well-adjusted. People don't even realize that they don't have a dad in their life. They're like, oh, your kids don't have a dad? I'm like, well, they have a dad, it's just, he's not there, which is okay. But yeah, so my dad and my ex-husband left my mom and I within six weeks of each other. So I called my mom, I said, you wanna come live with us? She's like, yeah, I'll come live with you. And she's just been with us ever since. So the guy that I'm dating right now, he knows that my mom is for good, like she's not going anywhere. Yeah, and he's great with it, he loves my mom. So, yeah. Does he look at you and look at her and think, that's what I'm gonna have about 10 years from now? I don't know. We're nurturers, so, we're those kinda people that nurture. I'm very expressive when I talk. I love it! I'm just watching this little flip book happening right now. I absolutely love it. Head throw! Okay, so I'm gonna make one more change. Okay, so talk to me a little bit about like a life dream, like if you could accomplish one more thing before you, what's your number one bucket list? Number one? I have to choose? Yeah. So I pastor a lot of women in my local community. I'm a pastor, I'm not a licensed pastor, but I'm a pastor with Foursquare Church. So I would love to start speaking at more ladies' conferences, helping, I help a lot of Christian women business owners get their businesses going. I help them with emotional support, 'cause a lot of people, running a business is hard, we all know that. It's even harder when you're a person of faith sometimes and you're a woman. Wait, you're a woman? Right? I know, who would've thought? So I'm speaking and I have a couple speaking engagements coming up. I'm excited. But I would love to just be like, travel all over and speak to people, women and men, about their businesses and incorporating just their life and their faith and, yeah. Can you look back to him again? Just with your eyes, look to me. Think about your kids. Are we? Are we? We'll see. Before I ask you my next question, I wanna make sure that this is pooling out, 'cause this is, I'm really about to take it to a whole 'nother level. Don't make me cry, I cry all the time. That's why I wear waterproof mascara. All the time. And it's not sad cry, I just cry all the time. I cry at Pampers commercials. Do you really? My husband says I lack all emotion because I don't cry. I feel bad, I feel bad for the people around me, 'cause we'll be sitting there having a conversation over coffee and I'll be like, that was beautiful! And I'll just have tears coming down my eyes. Down my face. Well, you know, when AT&T gives you a good deal, that's something to cry about, right? I saved 300 dollars switching to Geico. Yes! So right now, I made a lot of choices. Did you see it unfolding as that thought process came through? You're gorgeous by the way. So beautiful. And I mean that from the inside out. I don't mean that just aesthetically. Thank you. In my mind, there's some beauty about what we carry with us and the experiences that we have, and I'm looking at that more than I'm looking at our aesthetics. For me that's secondary. What we carry with us is our story, and as a journalist, that story is equally as important for me to capture. So, when I looked at you, I was moving the light around and we were talking, and I'm just kinda getting you used to me scuttling around and putting lights here and putting lights there. Just so you're not overly thinking about where I'm positioning. 'Cause you're a photographer and I know it's hard for a photographer to be photographed often. It is. It is, right? It's almost taxing. What I thought was, I wanted to do a sort of lower Paramount, not just 'cause your glasses are casting a shadow right through your beautiful blue eyes, but I also think that I wanted to reveal everything about you, and because your face is so expressive, I didn't wanna miss a moment. And you have this, I'm very jealous, beautiful head of hair, and so I wanted to add a little separation. My natural instinct was to have a darker background and be in a little bit more of the low key. 'Cause I get this sort of positive low. But as we were talking and you were beginning to animate, you were kind of fluctuating to a positive high. So I have a lot of choices to make. Am I going to showcase your positive low personality, which is very even and cool and calm under pressure? As you said, when you're in the birthing room. Or am I gonna anticipate the positive high aspect of your personality when you're talking about your kids and your mom? And you go up here and you come back down, and you go up here. So how am I gonna best represent her? I think the low key ones are really really great. My issue that I have, and you photograph beautifully, I should have went to more of a high key right away when I saw just how animated in a positive high she was. I just didn't wanna break that tether and that emotion and that connection that we had in that moment. And you were talking to me. I don't wanna break that dialogue for the sake of going and changing my lights. I'm gonna let that ride, 'cause I know I can circle back when we find an ebb in that conversation, go turn the light on, come back, and then I'm gonna go to another topic. At this point, I'm gonna try and circle back to that conversation. So we have about five minutes left? Okay. All right, what are your children's names? My sons name is Josh and my daughter's name is Lana. Are these family names or ones that you liked? Josh, my ex-husband picked out Josh's name. And then, I was okay, 'cause I love the name Josh. But my daughter, she was named after Lana Lang from Smallville, Clark Kent's first love. I'm not gonna lie. So, and she's my little Lana Grace, which is funny, 'cause her name means peaceful river, and she's anything but. She is my raging water. She's my personality mini-me. My son is my mini-me though, he looks just like me. He looks like you? Yeah, he looks just like me. Just like his mama. Do you think he appreciates you telling him he looks like his mom? All the time. Don't ever tell him he looks like his dad. He's like, no I don't, I look just like my mom. So, but yeah. I have to ask you, I'm just gonna dig a little deeper, I'm sorry. Sure. I'm cool with that. I notice there's a negative connotation about the dad. Can you express to me a little bit about what happened? You only have to share as much as you like. You said he was military, was he army? He was navy. Navy. He was in seal training when we met. We dated for like two seconds and got married two seconds later. So you were young? I was 22, so yeah, I was young. And we moved to Guam like six weeks later, so we had no time to, we didn't really have time to get to know each other. I think if I'd known him better, we probably never would have gotten married. But we did. And I moved to Guam. And I was stuck on a rock, so I couldn't go anywhere. And then I had made some amazing friends and, pardon me, yeah, I mean it was okay. He got kicked out of the military when my son was four months old for a medical injury on his knee, and we went back to California and he went to school to be a commercial diver. And then I found out he was cheating on me. Bastard! And I stayed with him and we went to counseling. And then he moved me and the kids to Houston, and he filed for divorced like two weeks after we became legal residents. So, just shy of the 10 year mark. Yeah, and then he left me for his ex-girlfriend from high school. So, yeah, and I, I've talked to him very very rarely. Have you had a liberation party yet? We had that like a long time ago. But it took me a long time to heal. And that's something that I'm super transparent about with people. I'm like, you can take as much time as you need to heal, because it's all personal. I have had friends that got divorced and got married six months later. I've been divorced for six-and-a-half years and I just now started dating somebody. And we're taking it super slow so, you know, there's nothing wrong with that. And how do you feel about where you're at now? Good. I love life right now. It's good. Life's good. Perfect. Angle your body to your right a little bit. Bring your chin back to me. Bring your forehead this way just a hair. Good, hold that. Do you want me to smile? You can be whatever you want. What's your mom's name? Her name is Kathleen. Do you look like Kathleen? I don't know, I think it's like a mix of her and my dad. But we all call her Mimi 'cause she's Mimi. She's Mimi. Sounds to me like you have a fantastic relationship with her. I do, we do, yeah. She's an amazing woman. She handled her divorce with way more grace than I did. Way more grace. That's a great shot. If you stick with it through the moments, you're going to end up with just the right portrait. And for me, I knew it when I clicked it that that was it, for me. You're an amazing woman. Thank you for being so telling and sharing and open. I value you and you're an amazing woman. Aw, thank you. Demos can be amazing, right? We've spent the last nearly two days with each other. But when we get into the seat it's a whole different experience. Would you agree? Having been in the seat? It's important for us to know what it's like from the subject's point of view as well, how vulnerable it feels, so that we understand how vulnerable we need to be to have that energy exchange, to have that reciprocation. We get back what we give. How did you feel during that experience? I felt good, I felt comfortable. I felt comfortable. Was there any point that you felt uncomfortable? No. I'm an open book, so I'm all about transparency. But I also know that some people aren't so, yeah, I get it. Taking that into account. How was your experience? I know I'm not an open book, so that was very difficult for me. I think I feel more comfortable being behind the camera and listening to people, rather than trying to express myself. Okay. Was the interaction that we had, did you feel that that put you at more ease or did it make you feel a little bit more anxious. I think it put me at ease, yes. Good. So do you feel that that's a technique that you can use moving forward? Yes. Connection and connectivity? And how was your experience? I think I enjoyed it, actually, in a strange way. That's awesome. Well I think I said I kind of, although I appear to be quite shy and reserved, I do quite like being out there and in the spotlight sometimes. As long as I have a certain amount of control over it, I guess. And I thought you gave me the space to do that, so it felt good. Good. So, did you see the dynamics and the different approaches I took with each individual as well? You didn't see me laying a lot of hands on Rick. You didn't see me laying a lot of hands on Angela. Correct? Name, right? Blair? Just kidding. And understanding, reading people's energy and finding out that personal space. So in this next segment, you're going to see, from start to finish, people I've never met or spent time with. And we're going to work through, you're going to see me overcome certain challenges, whether that's opening them up, trying to find the right light, and getting them to be emotive and expressive by use of their body language.

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