Shoot: Use Movement to Create Comfortability


Powerful Portraits using Body Language and Lighting


Lesson Info

Shoot: Use Movement to Create Comfortability

Who's next? We've got Mike next. Mike is next, okay. Are you guys ready? Are you guys feeling this? Is it working? Okay. Hey Mike. How's it going? Good, how are you doing? You don't have to turn beet red, by the way. That's a grip. All right. Mike, the hot seat's right here. Okay. How you doing? Good, how are you? I'm very well, thank you. This is the class. Hi. Hey everybody. Mike, how are you? Nervous? A little bit pink in the ears. A little bit, yeah. A little bit nervous. A little bit nervous. Not used to cameras. In front of me. Oh, I was like, don't you work at a place that has cameras everywhere? Okay, cool. What do you do? I am a software developer, so I work on the website. You're a dashes and zeroes guy? Kinda, sure, yeah. Did I even get that right? A little bit. I got the zeroes right, I think. So all the stuff that you guys are using, I get to work on that. Excellent. And you went to school for this? That was actually a hobby. I...

went to school, I got a fine arts degree. Interesting, wow. So you have a creative degree and you went geeked out computer. Kinda. Isn't it usually the opposite? Sometimes, it depends on who you're talking to, but, you know, for me it was a passion that I had and ended up being a good career that pays well. I was able to take my fine arts degree and make it into my hobby and do photography, which works out really well working here. That's nice. What kind of photography do you like? I just try and experiment and figure out what I like. I don't know anything specifically. So, one of the things I shot more recently was going down to Zion and Bryce Canyons to do some landscape. A lot of stuff with portraits, doing things with models and trying to figure out unique ways to shoot with lighting. Off camera flash, that kinda stuff. Okay, well you definitely have the educational tools at your fingertips. Yeah, that's great. Get to meet people like you and learn. Like me? Nah, nothing special. Are you married. I am. Okay, tell me about your spouse. So my wife and I, we met back in '99. Wait, how old are you? I'm 41. Darcy, this one should've been put out to pasture a long time ago. But my wife and I, we met through a mutual friend, we were helping out with a wedding, and I made her pay attention to me. How? I sat on her. What! You didn't Dutch Oven the poor lady, did you? No, I basically forced her to pay attention to me. She's more of a person that doesn't wanna deal with people, so I made her pay attention to me and then, we just kinda started dating from there. Bought a house, we did everything backwards. Bought a house and then we got married after that and had kids. How many kids do you have? We got two, two daughters. Oh you have two, oh so you're totally outnumbered. I am completely outnumbered. I have a female dog too. What! Was that planned or accidental? The dog? Yeah, well, yes. I'm not that brazen. As far as which part. Asking if the girls were planned, that wouldn't be appropriate. Well, I don't know. You did say you did everything backwards, so were the girls coming before? No no no, so we knew that we wanted a place to live and we were already living together, renting places, so we ended up buying the house and then we ended up getting married after that, just purely based on, we knew we were probably gonna get married, but financially getting set into having a house and everything. So you took your time. Yeah. Okay. No rush. That's reasonable. Do you see yourself as a sort of calculated, reasonable person? In some stuff, yeah. Depends on what it is, but yeah. What exactly are you irrational on? Me? Yeah. Probably when I ride my bike. What type of bike? Motorbike? Mountain biking, I crash a lot. You do? Yeah. Now, is that for lack of talent, or just taking too much risk? Probably both. Okay. Thinking I know more than I do. You're like, watching YouTube videos and think, I'm gonna go, watch me ollie! Probably some of that. Is that even a mountain bike thing? No. Okay, well, that's skateboarding isn't it? I think so. When's the last time that you went out and got yourself hurt? About three months ago, I was commuting to work. You were commuting? Were you like, I'm gonna take on this car! No, I was trying to go from the road over to the path and I miscalculated where the curb was. You biffed it? Yeah, threw me off. Did you knock any teeth out. No, I put my hands out and bent pinky up pretty good. I was gonna say, your wrist. Well that's unfortunate. Yeah. Are you back on the bike? I am. Commuting, just this week is my first week back. Or last week, I think. Are you the one with the corgi? No. No, that's another gentleman. Somebody was talking about commuting with a bike, and they were like, I had my corgi, I was gonna bring my corgi, but I had a bike, and I was like, what?? That's exactly how it went, the conversation. Like, what? 'Cause I'm so deep like that. All right. Are you from this area? I am, born and raised. Really? Yup. What about your wife? No, she was originally born in Laos. And so, they came over when she was about two and she pretty much is from this area. Pretty much all she's known. So in a way, you could say yeah, she is from this area. Does she speak Laotian? I would say she's fluent, but she says she's not. Okay. And have you been over? No, we have not gone. We wanna wait until our girls are a little bit older. So you can take them? Yeah, take them over, have them appreciate it, feel comfortable that they're able to get around pretty easy and have fun. Learn some stuff. She's never been back, I've never gone. Well that's exciting. Don't worry, it's not gonna attack you. Not used to being on this end. Really? Yeah. The business end? Yeah, the business end of the lens, yeah. You're gonna live, I promise. How old are your girls? You said they're not quite old enough to Four and eight. Younger one's almost five. Okay, so you waited a little bit. Yeah, waited for a little while. Was that another calculated financial move? That was probably a more calculated financial move than anything, yeah. But you were like, we definitely want two. Definitely wanted at least probably two. Didn't know if we wanted girls or boys, didn't really matter, but wanted to have at least someone that they could team up on us with and be fair. Is it difficult having so many women in the house? No. You're just totally down with it. I deal with it, it's fine. Wait, dealing with it. That's a word. I'm used to them by now, so it's fine. So you've adjusted. I've adjusted, yeah. Adapted. Adapted, yeah. I mean they're all very strong women, so yeah. They can put it out and I have to deal with it. So adapting, dealing with it, yeah. Tell me an average morning at your house. During the week it's, I get up first, I probably take the dog out, feed the dog, start taking a shower, start eating. My older daughter gets up, she needs to start getting ready for school. My wife gets up, she might make her breakfast if she hasn't made it yet. Does she make yours? No, I make my own breakfast. But yeah, it's kinda the routine. Pretty quick, about an hour long. Get her to school. And now that I'm commuting my bike in this nice weather, she commutes my bike too, so we just go. Oh, so you ride bikes. Does she crash like you? Not yet. Well that's good. Yeah, she's going to mountain bike camp this summer, so hopefully she's crash, she'll learn. Why would you say that? Honey, he's wishing ill will on you. It's the evil eye. She doesn't watch this anyway. We girls gotta stand together, I'm just saying. She'll learn. She'll adjust and learn how to ride. Excellent, when will you? Never. So the code guy. Do you enjoy this work? I do. The work as a whole is pretty good. I enjoy the stuff where it's constantly changing, something new, I like learning. I think that's part of the reason why I like working here too, is 'cause it's kind of the mesh of the two things that I do, with coding, photography. Everything kinda creative around here is great. Everyone's very happy to work here. It's a good environment. Are your daughters at all involved in coding? They are. I tried to make sure that they have at least some exposure to it, not force it on them. But my older one's taking to it pretty well. She's got some after school programs that are programming. So I try and reinforce some of that with them. There's some new robotic toys which work well with programming on apps and whatnot, they can interact with them. So yeah. Do you play video games with your kids? Not really. I kinda stopped playing video games a while back, just time-wise, and so my girls, they play, they have Kindle Fires and they play whichever games they wanna play on there. It's all curated content. And you encourage this? I let them kind of explore whatever they want on there, 'cause I know it's within their age range and nothing inappropriate. Kinda lock everything down outside of that. So there's some time limitations on it, but they get their, when the older one gets her homework done, she can work on it. Do you think there'll be a day when she'll be able to hack through your barriers? Yeah, I think she will. I think she'll do pretty well. The older one's taking to it. I know the younger one's got an interest, she's already cried that she doesn't have her own laptop. Uh-oh. Yeah. How did you meet your wife? That was the wedding. Oh, the wedding and you sat on her. Yeah, the wedding where I sat on her. She sounds like she's a tiny woman. She's short. She's short and? Short and beautiful. Oh, well that's a good recovery. She'll punch me later. I thought you said she doesn't watch this. She doesn't watch this but she'll find out somehow. So describe your daughters for me. The older one, Bella, she is probably the more well-mannered of the two, just because we've ingrained that into her from day one. The younger one gets away with a lot more. She's the more mischievous one. I think Bella enjoys programming stuff because I enjoy it. So she wants to be like dad. If she sticks with it, she sticks with it. If she doesn't, she doesn't. But we're also working on photography, and she's gotten into that and she enjoys it and we had some really good shots that came out at Zion and Bryce, and it was pretty cool. I still feel weird being in front of the camera. Do you? Aw, don't worry about it. Now you know what it's like when you put your camera in front of other people's faces. What is your biggest fear for your girls? My biggest fear for my girls? I don't really know what the biggest fear would be. I think them, the biggest fear I would say is, you know, their health and just making sure that they stay healthy. I wanna make sure that they have what they need to do what they can do any time that they wanna do it. You know, as far as school or outside of school, I wanna make sure that they're well-rounded. That's part of the whole, getting their creative side and also doing some of the tech stuff. Yeah, I dunno what my biggest fear is for them. I know what my biggest fear is, them being healthy and making sure that they stay healthy. How do you do that? Have good benefits. Work at a place that provides that kind of environment for me to make sure that my kids have that. My wife and I are very much in tune with making sure that we take them to the doctor on time and go to the dentist and stay healthy. It's part of what parents should be doing, I guess. So you seem to me like somebody who's very much a provider, hunter-gatherer, like old-school kind of dude. Do you consider that? Not really. I mean, my wife stopped working a few years ago, but she had been working for many many years before that. She'll probably go back to working. So I don't know if I'd say I'm a provider. I didn't mean your wife in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, that's not what I meant. That's how I kinda took that. Did you? No, no, what I meant was, it seems like, what was your family life like when you were younger? Beaver Cleaver, but mom and dad both worked. They're still together, they're not divorced. They're good parents, both smart, both have their degrees. Both of them were in the sciences as well. Dad was a microbiologist, mom's a med tech. So that's probably what spawned me getting into more of a technical side of things. Yeah, so, but yeah they're normal, I dunno. No, I mean, do you think you idolize the relationship they have and maybe emulate that? To some extent. I like the idea that they're, they are still together, they still love each other very much. I think that's part of why I'm still with my wife, is that I don't see it as a hard thing to do. It's just something that, you know, you're gonna get in fights here and there but we do a lot that we compromise with each other and we understand each other's stupid things and work with it. What's your stupid thing? My stupid thing? She'd say I have a lot of stupid things. She says I'm hard-headed. So I wold probably work on that. I think it's a spawn from my own parents. They're both hard-headed, so I probably just, I have to realize that I'm not always right even though I think I'm right, and accept it. Do you have a daughter that is kinda like you? The younger one is definitely me. We both agree that the younger one is me. She's the mischievous one. I wouldn't really say I'm mischievous, but I would definitely say that she's like me. She's temperamental. So she'll be the first that gets upset. And she gets really upset and starts throwing things round and we have to calm her down and go after that. But the older one, I don't know if our older daughter is really like either of us when it comes to temper. She's got her own way, she's more emotional than the younger one. The younger one's definitely more temperamental. Well, I kinda got the feeling, so we're gonna have a little bit of fun. Stand up please. I'm gonna move your stool, a.k.a the crutch. Okay. I gotta suck in my gut. You're short and? I'm short? No, I was just repeating the words that came out of your mouth earlier, short and beautiful. So you have a lady dog. Mm-hmm. Did you pick her out or did the girls pick her out? I picked her out, she was born long before the girls came along. She was what? She was born long before our daughters were born. Oh, so you had her first, how old is she? She is now 11, almost 11. What kind of dog is she? Golden retriever. Uh-oh. Yeah. Sorry, I didn't mean to say it like that. Super sweet, love her, my favorite dog. Are you prepared for end of life? Am I prepared for end of life? I don't think I really care. No, you do too. I don't really think about the end of life part of it. Oh, you're just gonna wait 'til it comes. Yeah, if it happens, it happens. I can't do anything to really prevent if it really did happen. I try to not kill myself, other than crashing. My husband is very attached to his dog. So you're dog end of life or me end of life? Your dog! What were we talking about this whole time? You just said end of life. Not your end of life, good lord. Yeah, that upsets me to think about, 'cause she is getting older. She's got the white muzzle now. I think of my dogs growing up, so that can bring some emotion out, yeah. And she was your first baby, really, right? We had a cat before that, that was our first. Are you shitting me? That's it, I've had enough with cats. Cat was first, dog came along after. But I grew up with dogs and cats. So what's better, cat or dog? I prefer dog, but I also like cat, even though the cat hated me. I took care of the cat, cat didn't like me. Didn't reciprocate too much, huh? Nah, nah. He definitely liked my wife more. Oh, it was a boy? Yeah, he was a very dominant cat. Uh-huh. Okay, so what are you doing with your dog now that she's getting a little higher in the age bracket to savor the time you have left with her? Pretty much what she's always done. She's always been an indoor dog. We take her outside and do stuff outside, but she likes to lay around on the couch or lay watching TV with us, she's pretty chill. I think she enjoys having our girls. When our cat passed away, she was pretty upset about that. Surprisingly, she really missed the cat. And then our girls came along and she really likes being around the kids. Who do you hang out with the most in the house? I don't have a whole lot of time at home, so I'd say probably all of them all at one time. We don't really do a whole lot outside of the house without our family. If I go home, it's hanging out with my kids and my wife and my dog, and that's it. Fair enough. Okay, cool. So, would you say that the majority of your family is very sort of all about the family nucleus? Do you do any social activities with other families, by chance? We do sometimes, every once in a while. If we go to Hawaii, we typically go with other families. This year we're gonna go for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary, which should be fun. So, stuff like that. But it's usually with my family or my wife's family or close friends. How's your wife's family? Good, they're nearby, they're probably about the same distance as my family. So they're all within, you know, half-hour, 45-minute drive away. We try to see them, make sure the kids get to see grandma. Do they ever come over unannounced? No, that's not really allowed. My wife would be very upset. They know better, they get yelled at if they do. Everything is very much planned when we hang out with the family outside of my own house. Is it safe to say that your wife tends to be the Ruler? Yeah? Yeah. That's okay. Yeah, it is fine. You seem happy with it. Perfect. Well I think you did a great job. Thank you for, really, a handshake? Okay, I'll give you a hug. Aww. Aw, I'm so sorry. Thank you, I appreciate it. Can we have the lights up? And let's give him a hand. What'd you think? He did the cowboy. Okay, first impressions. My first impression was kind of like, non-rebellious. Non-rebellious, in what way? Well it's just, I grew up, you know, arguing with parents and I lived in Florida and I moved all the way to Seattle and I kinda did everything I'm not supposed to do. And so, when I have friends or see people whose parents kind of had perfect marriages and bought houses, and their kids do the same thing, I have a hard time identifying with that. Because it's a different life than you had? Yeah. Okay. And so, that's just a personal thing to me, but that's how I You projected yourself on him, though. Yeah, I guess so. So you gotta take yourself out of it. Anybody else? He seemed very tense and nervous. He had a lot of self-soothing. Mostly the hand to hand, but also the brow and the temple. And then I noticed, when you started talking about his girls, he crossed his arm, very protective. Did you see that? I couldn't see the legs from here, but I noticed that. He was in a runner's pose the whole time. And then he stood up and he hid the hands, cowboy'd it. He cowboy'd that right up. What else did we notice? Let's look it back. I felt like he was very nervous. Very nervous. But do you think that that's just him? Or do you think it was the situation? I think it was the situation. He seems really easy-going, like a guy you could throw back a beer with and just hang out, non-threatening. And I noticed that you started off with a high key and then switched to a low key. He had his eyes closed so much. Seemed like he was, or maybe mid-blink. Why do you think that is? Protection. Because he seemed really vulnerable. He seemed really easy-going, but he kept a little bit behind. Like he seemed like you would wanna hang out and have a beer with him, but you need to build the trust. He didn't know me from Adam, yeah. And I noticed that when you were kind of changing poses, or you were starting from here and then you moved closer to him, you fixed his shirt before sitting in front of him. And then when you made him stand up, you also kind of touched him to make him more relaxed in this new position, I guess. Yeah. So again, he's got a little bit of a wall, and I would say that I didn't even break through all that much. Charlie! He's like, oh I'm ready to party with you guys. Good boy! I've said this before. There will be individuals that you won't have breakthroughs with. Don't let it get you down. It's not like you're letting the situation conquer you. I did the best that I could. And it's a personality thing. It sounds to me that he would be very approachable, that we could have a beer together later when we're not under these circumstances. That said, I would, and bless his heart, we all say this in the South before we say something, I think in a larger crowd, social setting, he's probably, it's probably not his jam. It's not something he's comfortable with, period, at all. Even if a camera's in front of his face. I don't think he would voluntarily go into a room full of 30, 40 people just to hang out and shoot the breeze. That doesn't seem like it's in his wheelhouse whatsoever. So, had it been maybe just he and I, might've been a different dynamic. But we had a whole room full of different types of energy and eyes watching him. And again, a social setting does not seem like it would be what he'd volunteer for in the first place. Does that make sense? And I think it definitely showed in his physical response. The cowboy. What is he doing right here with his body? What does going back mean? Avoidance. I think that's when he thought I was asking him about his own death. He's like, whoa. And the wife rules the roost. So what do y'all think? It was different. Each and every one of them were different. But that's the dynamic about being somebody who tells stories with portraits of individual people. Everybody is wholly individual, and we need to adapt our approaches. We need to be attentive in watching body language, listening to the visual cues they're giving us. Give them space, invade their space. Offer guidance, offer inspiration. Empowering through positive affirmation. And acting cool, calm and collected. Matching energy, mirroring. All of these techniques. Can I ask another question regarding the cowboy position? It's necessarily something that, 'cause before you mentioned that it was like confidence, but in this case I don't think it might be confidence necessarily. I say this is sort of a false projection of confidence. You have to read the whole body and bring all of those cues together. So he was still hiding hands. But the thumbs-out situation is trying to give the appearance of confidence, right? And I think he is a confident person. I just think he was uncomfortable in crowds. I think if we were to find him one on one in the office it'd be a whole different persona. He would be a much more confident person. This was just a very stressful situation for him. And I could feel that stress, and I could feel that anxiety. I think he just was waiting, counting down the minutes to get out of here. And that's okay, it's okay. Yes? Can we pass the microphone to the back please? Having said that, I think he was, he did actually give over a certain confidence about his own life and, you know, a sense of being comfortable with who he is as opposed to being comfortable being here. And I think that, you know, if you are going to capture something of him, I think that needs to be there. Sure, I agree. I think he was genuine in everything that he shared with us. And again, sometimes it's hard to overcome feeling uncomfortable. But anyway, oh, did you have something as well? Well I was just gonna kinda pile on to the last shot, the cowboy pose. I don't feel it was a false projection of confidence. I have seen him one on one, and that guy looks like somebody, yeah, you could go have a beer with. And I think it took all that conversation for you to get him that comfortable, but I really feel like how he finished was, okay, wow that's done, I feel great now. Well that's good. So you saw him outside of this environment and you felt like what happened at the very end was a true projection. Yeah, I think you got a great portrait of him. I mean, that's the guy that I see one on one. Well fantastic. Well then, we all did our job right them. Putting him at ease and giving him space in the environment to do that. So that makes me feel a lot better. I, like any other artist, doubt myself sometimes. Like, did I make the right approach? And if you're not constantly questioning and challenging yourself, then you're gonna get a little bit too cocky for your own breeches, right? And never challenge yourself to be more mindful of other people's emotions and feelings. And so, if I'm not being empathetic and I'm not being thoughtful about other people's discomfort or their own personalities, then I'm not doing my job right and I should really find another occupation. So I will always sit back and assess and evaluate my own approach. And we need to do that for ourselves. It's kind of that little mental check.

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