Posing Techniques Overview
This is the one thing that I would say that has really, really helped me to be able to get people to look the way I want them to look when I photograph them. 'Cause often times, when I first started, I used to kind of generalize what I wanted, so I'd tell them like, "I want you to look happy." You know, "I want you to look sad, I want you to look..." Like, you give them these generalities and then sometimes if they were really good, and they were comfortable, they get there and they just do it. And you're like, "Cool, that's great." And then other times, it wouldn't work and you'd kinda sit there and you're kinda bummed because you wish that you would have gotten the shot, but you didn't know how to communicate with them to get them to look the way that your mind's eye wanted them to look. So, I basically studied, 'cause again, like I've been telling you, I followed a lot of photographers over the years. I've mentored under some great, great photographers and I've watched how they inte...
ract with their clients and their subjects. I've been very blessed and I've been able to be on photo shoots with like, big time photographers that are doing like, you know, ad campaigns and that are photographing people that you would wish that as a starting photographer, you have that dream, like, "Oooh, I want to photograph models from this big brand." Like, I've been on those sets and I've seen how those people work. And with all of that being said, I've basically taken everything that I have seen, all of these different photographers do, in terms of posing people. And I kinda made it into a much simpler thing that I could use to be able to pose people the way I want 'em to pose. So, there's four major steps to this system of posing. And so, what I'm gonna do, is I'm gonna have my model come out. And I guess I was gonna do this in front of the backdrop, but if it's okay, I'm gonna just do this here. So, I'll have you come out here. And, so, I'm gonna have you stand, like, right here. And so you guys can see me, you can see her, right? So, stand in front of me right there. Looking towards me here, perfect. So, the very first part of this posing technique is what I call the mirror. All right, so, again. Very first thing that we're doing is the mirror. And so, the story that I always tell them, and you can adapt this story to your own personality 'cause you know how you are, you know how you look. You know your timing for your jokes and things like that. I tend to be a little bit self-deprecating whenever I do my photo shoots because there's a lot of times where photographers, they try to act like they're super confident and they're very egotistical and so people, sometimes, get kind of turned off by that. And you have that barrier you have to break through before they start to get comfortable. So, right out of the gate, from step one, I'm cool with making fun of myself if it's gonna give me a great image. So, that's when I will start off and tell them, I want you to pretend like you're looking in the mirror at your big, hairy, bald, Latino reflection, all right? So, if I was telling you to mirror me, right? And, I tell you, stand like this, it's perfect. Like this, very nice. Like that, awesome. So, if I have her mirror me, I don't have to touch her physically and this is something that comes in handy big time for male photographers. Because if you're a guy, and you're photographing a woman, in any capacity, I have been on sets with photographers where there are photographers that they are very handsy. Right, and even if you ask for permission, and say, "Is it okay if I touch you to move you?" Sometimes, I've seen the model, where they're like, "Yeah, that's fine." But, I know, I could tell by the way they answered the question, they really do not want you to touch them. Even if they say it's okay, you really don't want to have to touch the model to be able to move them and pose them around. So, using the mirror technique, I can get her to literally, do anything that I want her to do by telling her to mirror my motion. So, I can literally, if I wanted you to do like, crane. You know, just like that, like, she could do it. I don't have to go and like, pick up her leg and move her arm and do all that kind of stuff. So, that's the first step and the mirror actually allows you to pose them any which way. It's a very good way of doing it. But, the next thing that I do, is you can see is called the palm, or the claw. And what I do is, if I put my hand up like this, I want you to pretend like I am palming your face like a basketball, okay, so if I was palming your face, and I go like this, go like this, perfect. It's very simple. Doesn't do a lot, doesn't seem like it does a lot. But, it's very powerful. Because I can basically get them to tilt their head from side to side by just telling 'em, "I'm palming your face like a basketball." The third thing that I do, is what I call the ol' Bill Clinton, all right? So, maybe for some of us, we didn't grow up in the days of Bill Clinton. I might be dating myself again, but he used to do this thing with his hand when he would talk to the camera and it made him like, super approachable, 'cause people used to point and that was not a good thing. But, he started to do this thing. Bite his lip. I'm actually holding you by your chin. So, I'm just holding you by your chin and so, I want you to go this way, rotate that way, rotate down, rotate up. The hard one that I do is if I pull forward, I want you to bring the chin out, just like that. So, pull forward, and down, perfect. Claw, that way, nice. So, without touching her, you see that I'm able to basically, position her, move her, I'm not touching her. So again, we have mirror, we have the palm, we have the ol' Bill Clinton and then the last thing that I have is what I call the push, or the tap. So, if I put both of my hands up, I want you to pretend like I'm holding your shoulders, like I'm touching your shoulders. So, I'll push back, nice, or I'll push back this way. Or, I'll do this, yes, perfect. And then push that back, nice. So, I can get their shoulders to go down, or get it to go up, or rotate this way or rotate this way. And again, all this without physically touching her. Now, if I wanted to pose her, the way I wanted to pose her for a real shot, this is what would happen if I had to touch her. If you don't mind, I'm gonna have to do this for the demo. So, stand that way, bring your shoulder that way, tilt the head this way, face over that way. This way, this way, nice, okay. So, and I'd have to be touching her for that and she, even if we're cool like that, she's not gonna be comfortable with that. You don't want to get into the habit of having to physically touch people and if it's, you know, if you're a male and you're photographing another male, dudes don't want you touching them either, you know? It's just not cool. So, being able to do this, this is how it basically put all of this together. So, kind of like reset. So, here's what I want you to do. We're actually gonna stand perfectly just like this, we're gonna mirror, so I want you to stand like this. Very nice, that's beautiful. Fingers out just like that, very nice. Tilt the head this way just a touch. Bring the chin out. Very nice and we're gonna lower the shoulder just a touch. Very good. From there, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Take my shots. And then once I feel good with that, I can go ahead and I could say, "Okay, let's do the next one. "Mirror me one more time." So, I want you to stand like this, very nice. This time, I want you to go this way, just like that. Lot of intrigue, lot of mystery, beautiful. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Takin' the shots that way. Now, this works whether they're a trained model, whether it's just like, some Joe Blow off the streets. I've literally walked up to people and done street portraits and walked up to somebody and within moments, been like, okay here's my spiel, I can run through this in literally, like a minute. And they're like, "Okay, I feel good." And they feel confident now. Because the average person does not know what to do when they get in front of the camera. They're just kinda like... And you're taking pictures and literally, I remember back in the day when I first started, I would have models, right, that came over and the flash is going off. And they're just like... Face is getting, like, super stale. One picture after another after another and I'm just like, "Oh my gosh, are they gonna move? "Or are they gonna do anything?" And once I started to implement this, it actually made it super, super easy that I was able to tell them, "Mirror me, do this, do that." You can get different types of looks. You can do beauty, you could do full body stuff, all of this basically, without having to touch them. So, any questions? Did the internet, hopefully, did you guys, hopefully get something out of that? Did it help?
So, you're doing a lot of micro adjustments and I'm just wondering how you figured out which micro adjustments made for the best image? Are you looking at the light, the way it's hitting it? I mean, it's a lot to think about in an instant, I guess.
Yeah, are you thinking, or are you asking that from a lighting perspective, or from a posing perspective? Or from a settings perspective?
From a posing perspective.
So, that's a good question. So, a lot of it kinda comes from, kind of developing a mood board ahead of the photo shoot. So, if I know, for example, if I'm doing, like a beauty photo shoot, where I know a lot of the shots are gonna be very close up. It's gonna be more about hands and expressions. I will study those poses and I will look at them and I'll try to understand where's the placement of the camera? Am I shooting down on them? Am I shooting directly horizontal? Am I slightly below? Am I shooting up at them? So, I'm thinking about that. I'm thinking about the poses and one of the big things, especially, we'll talk about this when we get to the beauty part. But, knowing what parts of the body look good and what parts don't look good. So, often times, for example, you don't want people to pose with their hands like this. Because their hand looks like a giant Hulk hand, even if they have like, a small hand. Having their hand up to their face like this, their hand width compared to their face is very comparable, and so it makes their hand look really huge, even though it's not. And so, usually, I'll tell them, like, turn it sideways, so that you just see the blade. This is all stuff, like these are little micro adjustments that as I'm shooting, I'll see the image pop up. 'Cause again, that's the beauty of shooting with a mirrorless camera, I take that first shot. There's a preview inside of my view finder. And I've gotten to the point now, to where, almost immediately, I can look at that shot and say, well, if she took that shot this way. And I'm like, "Oh, Hulk hand. "Can you mirror me? "Turn your hand this way." Boom, take the shots. And again, they're popping up in my electronic view finder, so I can see them and I can continue to make those micro adjustments without having to chimp. And that's where for me, that's the connection. Like, that's where we can talk and we can joke and I can get her laughing and get her loose and kind of get her out of her own mind. 'Cause the longer she's in her own mind, I could do all the micro adjustments that I want to do, but if she's not connected, and she's not calm and comfortable, those micro adjustments mean nothing. 'Cause you'll tell her, "Go like this." And she'll still be like... It's not gonna work. Like, so you have to be able to, both do the micro adjustments and also be able to continue to connect with them. Good question. Do we have any other ones, or?
Well, Miguel, I'm wondering what were some of the biggest mistakes again? If there are any other biggest mistakes that you made that you came to, when you came up with, sort of, these are the things that work the best? Or, things that you see other people doing.
Yeah, so, I think that, you know, I didn't really make the mistakes in the beginning 'cause, to be honest with you, I'm kind of an introvert. You know, if, it's still kind of amazing to me that if I would have told the Miguel from like, 2000, "Miguel, you're gonna be on Creative Live today. "And you're gonna be talking to people and there's gonna be "people all over the world watching you." I would have been like, "You're crazy. "I would never want to do that. "Like, I'm an introvert, I'm not cool with that. "Like, I just want to be playing my video games "and hangin' out." So, for me, you know, that was one of those things where I didn't run into that issue because I was very quiet in the beginning with my photo shoots. I would just kinda let them do their thing and that was part of the mistakes that I made was the fact that I was an introvert, I didn't know what I wanted. And I didn't know how to communicate what I wanted and whenever I did know what I wanted, I just like, I'd say, "I want you to look pretty." You know, what does that mean? Or, "I want you to look masculine. "I want you to look rough and tough." And it's like, your definition of rough and tough might be totally different than what their definition is. And they're giving you rough and tough and you're kinda like, "Oh, you have not, "you apparently don't know what that looks like." And that's what you're thinking, but if you say that, you've basically destroyed your photo shoot 'cause their confidence levels go down, your images will suffer, so, I mean, that was really the biggest mistakes I would make in the beginning was because of my own personality, I wasn't able to communicate to them what I wanted in a confident manner. And this is another thing that's really important with this specific technique as well. You have to exude confidence. You have to exude confidence to these people when you're photographing them. Whether they're models, whether they're just the average Joe, whether they're CEOs, actors, singers, actresses, whatever. You have to exude confidence when you're telling them these steps and you're making them move from one thing to the other. You have to tell them confidently and instruct them confidently because if they feel like you are not in command of the photo shoot and the situation, their confidence levels will start to dip. And the images will look really bad. It's almost like, and I've used this example before where, you go to the doctor's office and you have a problem. You're not feeling well, whatever the case might be. You're sitting on the doctor's table. The doctor walks in with his little clipboard and his stethoscope and he walks in and he drops the clipboard. And you're sitting there like, "Okay." And their stethoscope falls and they're just like, bumbling around with the tools and, you know, they mispronounce your name and they're not moving in a confident manner. You'll sit there on the table like, "Oh my gosh, I think I'm in the wrong doctor's office. "I'm not gonna listen to what this person says "because they don't seem like they know what they're doing. "This is like, day one of doctor, you know, playing doctor." Now, in comparison, if a doctor walks into the doctor's office very confident, very well spoken, sharp dressed, all their tools and stuff are polished, right, they're looking the part. They sit down, they run their tests, they're talking to you throughout the whole process. "Very good, breathe in, breathe out, that's awesome. "Let me go ahead and check your pulse. "That looks great," and you're sitting there and you're communicating throughout that entire process, you're gonna feel more comfortable when they tell you, "Hey, this is what the prognosis is." You're like, "Okay, you seem like you know "what you're doing." It's no different for a photographer. You have to run through this whole thing of, this whole process of the mirror, the palm, Bill Clinton, the push and the tap. And basically say it with confidence so that she knows and my subject knows, whenever I'm photographing them, that I got you. I want to make sure you look your absolute best. I'm not gonna take photos of you that don't look good. Even though I might, but they can't know that. They can't believe that. They need to believe like, they're in my hands. I will make sure that you look great.