Skip to main content

Posing Masterclass

Lesson 1 of 36


Bambi Cantrell

Posing Masterclass

Bambi Cantrell

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

1. Introduction

Lesson Info


we're going to talk today about focus on fabulous weddings and portrait and head shots and portfolio pictures and one of the things that I hope you go home with the end of this three day weekend is that it doesn't matter who your subject is or what they're wearing because at the end of the day all a bride is a girl wearing a white dress she's just a mother with a beautiful white dress on she's just a high school senior with a white dress on and if you start thinking like that then you know what that means it means that you will be able to photograph literally anyone any time and any place it means that you can photograph children you can photograph families and groups and today we're going to do that we're going to photograph a family we're going to photograph ah bridal party and I really want you to see the correlation between them and many of you out there might go well you know I don't ever want to photograph weddings oh my god I'd rather have a root canal then that let me slit my w...

rists now some of you may never want to photograph children but let me tell you mother here will tell you from personal experience is that when I started in photography twenty five plus years ago that I always said I'd never photographed families I'd never photographed children I would rather have a root canal than photograph little kids and what do I find myself doing these days I find myself photographing families and kids and weddings and portfolios and you name it because the little lightbulb went on in my head and you know what I bet you I could be more successful and create and generate more revenue for my business if I branched out and not only that I just had finally have gotten to the point in my career where I enjoy the challenge and I'll tell you there is nothing in the universe more challenging than photographing those little monsters I mean children I'm just getting and it's not like I don't have any I mean I have one child my son's grown now once kind of like having a pet and because it is it's easy let's face it you know if you have one child it's easy to get someone to baby sit one shot right and for those of you folks out there you women out there that have more than one child I mean my hat is off to you if you continue to try to perfect your craft just photographer and be a mother and you know and everything but you know how us women are we kind of like to do everything anyway right it's kind of like the multitasking thing um and the begged the biggest benefit to me is twofold number one I feel that it makes you a mork creative person to keep an open mind my pet peeve are people who go oh well that won't work for me that won't work they'll never do that I mean that is like wearing blinders on your eyes and to me it is absolutely going to stifle your creativity it's it's just such a dumb thing to do because you know you want to branch out and try a lot of different kinds of things and and there are always going to be parts of photography that you want to do that or your passion that you love but at the end of the day you know you gotta feed your family and you know we need teo you know produce a certain level of income otherwise we have to go get a day job and go do something we don't like doing it and I have to tell you I have not worked in twenty five years I get to do what I love to do and crazy thing people pay me to do it it's just remarkable it's just truly truly amazing so that's what we're going to talk about today is focusing in on fabulous weddings and portrait's and families and you name it I'm gonna briefly mentioned some of the tools that I use for capture but by no means is this what you have to pepper to have in your arsenal I use the cannon mark for I use lexar compact flash cards I prefer smaller cards versus bigger ones um these days I have to use the eight gig cards but I prefer to use the eight gigs versus the sixteen and so forth because I don't like putting all of my eggs in one basket I don't like having one card for an event or for a portrait session I prefer to have a few images on one card and then move on and maybe it's from because I go back to my film days when you know when I had my first boss used to give me four rolls of one twenty film which by the way for all of you knew people who are like you know not like an old lady like me that was like twelve exposures on a roll is crazy and he would give me four rolls of film and say okay go shoot this wedding but you see there were only like one hundred twenty pictures on that checklist opposes so you know as far as he was concerned I only needed you know maybe fifty images that's it but you know what the good thing about that was is it taught me to get it right in the camera to begin with and I think that's a good lesson for us because so many times today we become sloppy photographers we go little machine gun style and many photographers will take a thousand images on a portrait session and I'm sorry but after you've taken one or two pictures or three pictures maybe to cover for blanks so you don't have to swap heads of of a family group move on move on and do something different shake it up a little bit change your scene a little bit but learn to get it right in fewer pictures and then that allows you the opportunity to change and to do different environments to move your groups around it to break it up and do individual pictures but don't become sloppy photographers for a variety of reasons number one because there's no skill there's no skill and taking a thousand pictures you know especially if you're going to repeat the same picture more than four or five or ten times I mean you really think you're going to get a different result so I don't want I don't want you to learn to do that don't become sloppy but the second reason is is that when you take lots and lots of pictures it means mohr editing time and at the end of the day you're time is extremely valuable and I really want you to be the best paid photographer that you possibly can and that doesn't mean that you have to charge thousands of dollars to do your job it means you gotta be smart about what you're doing and that you need to think about well you know what how what how much time does this mean for me to do this or that and that is a very important element for us and I really care about each one of you and those of you out in the audience as well about you being able to be professional photographers this is not somebody who takes happy snap shots the professional photographer is different because they understand an f stop from a bus stop they understand direction of light they understand how to pose the body so that we can actually get a flattering picture of this subject now there's a novel idea you see you can take pictures all day long of your subject but if they don't like any of them hello then did you do your job no so I really want you to think about those I do use the cannon mark four system I use pro photo studio lighting for work in my studio I like all the d one power pack with a variety of heads and the thing I like about the d one system is that it's completely portable we can go out into the desert if we want to we can photograph out out a tte the beach or if I'm shooting a wedding I could bring my portable system my my portable power system set it up it's ready to go very very quickly and I think that's a very big plus and and I'm not a huge fan of lots of gadgetry I don't buy the latest and the greatest and all of that stuff but I do think that today's professional photographer needs to look more like a professional photographer than ever before we have to be willing to do things and not be lazy because we have a good camera because what happens is that the subject in the mind of the client if they see you just showing up with a camera there thinking it was the first question they ask well what kind of camera do you have right because they think oh that must be the secret sauce right that must be the secret well they obviously if they buy into that they have never had dinner at my home because I will tell you what I have got the best oven that you can buy I mean let me say that baby is just a beauty she is stainless steel and she shines but let me tell you until you've tasted my cooking you will so not understand I just don't understand why it does not produce great food what's the problem with that I mean I'm not kidding every time I try to make you know something in the oven are big chicken or something it just does not come out good and it must be theirs I must have to find a better oven you think so it is really about the secret sauce for us or a chef or anyone else is not the tool it's about how you use it and I really passionately believe that but I do think there are some tools that help us to do a better job and that's where my d one studio lighting works beautiful outside because I can change the light I can photograph all day long versus just photographing in the evening I use a variety of different lenses on dh on ly because sometimes I feel like a nut sometimes I don't and so I really like the variety I like the variety of focal length my very favorite lenses the seventy two two hundred to eight I s and I like it because it allows me to get a little bit away from the subject so I can back off just a little bit from them and but I can still capture beautiful meaningful pictures and for those of you by the way I think test you mentioned about doing engagement photographs and how that you feel that you're a little weak in that area when I do engagement pictures for a client that's the first lines that I use because it allows me to get them a little bit away from me and I always do for engaging pictures I do interactive imagery first you know what that means interactive pictures I want them looking at each other and walking down the street or laughing and cuddling and getting cozy I find that the more that I do that first number one the guy relaxes he totally this isn't I'm not he's worried about kung fu posing and oh my god she's going to make me keep my arm up in the air for like an hour or something stupid like that which I wouldn't anyway but you see it allows them to ease into the experience and that he's going oh my gosh this is actually a lot of fun and I get to get cozy and everything you know with my honey and so it's a really it's a very sneaky easy way a subtle way to get clients to start enjoying the experience and then if they enjoy the experience they will love your pictures they will absolutely love them because experience is if not more important than the actual picture it really is true the experience is so very very valuable so I love the seventy two two hundred millimeter lens after that I might switch up and use the fifty millimeter one point two or the twenty four to seventy of the eighty five one two now you'll notice one of the key things that I really like is this number right here one point two two point eight two point oh I really love working with shallow depth of field I want my subjects face to be sharp and I don't want the background competing for attention so I like shallower depth the field as a general rule unless I'm working with a group of people and then I might use f four five six if I'm outside doing photographs you know on a bright sunny day of course then I might have to increase my my f stop to f eleven on dh so I can get you know so I can compensate for the sun and such but as a general rule I prefer that I prefer the shallower depth of field from my imagery the other thing too you'll notice the little l afterwards I want good glass I want to spend the extra money this is where if I were going to spend the money I would spend it on buying good glass because your photograph is on ly is good as the glass to me that that's that's where sharpness comes in and so you never have to me you don't have to apologize if I buy a cheap lens and it doesn't last for maybe a year whatever you got to go buy another one if you buy a really good lens to begin with there's no apologies and it's just it keeps on clicking and it's a great tool to have in your arsenal so just bite the bullet by one good lens if you have to um okay so let's go on after capture after capture is this important as capturing the image for processing my raw files I'm using light room adobe light room for for processing raws raw files I use pwd color lab in atlanta georgia a small boutique lab for doing color correcting and retouching and also they do some of my album designed these days and my goal is to take as much away from my plate is I possibly can I want to make money and I do make money actually capturing the images and interacting with clients the more I sit my backside in that on that you know behind that computer the less time the last time I'm able to connect with people and that is also not a good way for you to be a good business person one of the thing when you think of albums don't just think of wedding albums that that's the way to go I use albums for lots of different things for family portrait sessions for photographs of children for a boudoir photography which is one of my very very they types of photography to do these days we do albums for almost everybody why is that important to you well let me tell you why because get this you know and what I learned from this isn't I have a couple of clients that I've been photographing since you know I photographed their wedding and then I started photographing their children and such and by age too they had a shrine in their home to their little kids they had wall portrait on every wall and I'm thinking well what else can I possibly sell them I already sold him a wall portrait last year were going to say I'm sorry you don't need it anymore no so I started thinking why not do something better than that and do albums because albums could be done on a yearly basis or for an infant every quarter is what I want to do is they and these air time capsules and this to me has been the most amazing thing I've ever ever done because then I absolutely have a product to sell a client and to get them in the routine of coming in for a portrait session every single year every single year and then you become this family historian and I have a number of families and I'm so honored that I have been photographing for almost twenty years if not more than that where I photographed their wedding and then I photograph their children growing up in their kids in high school and and then their children's weddings and such and it is such a great honor it is so rewarding when you have families that you've worked with for years and years and years and you have become their family historian and you know what you cannot buy that kind of press those people are loyal to you forever and it's not about it takes what you do away from the financial thing it's not about money they come to you because way have to use you you know you are the person has recorded our entire family history and so you become a very loyal friend to them and then when you do that with one client their other friends they ridicule the heck out of them until they want to have you as well so it's a really really good tool so we do use some certain things that I absolutely love I love john from penny for creating some fine art prints for me I love love love photoshopped actions I love nick software kevin cambodia's vintage delish is one of my very favorites your avants actions by the way your bonds actions he has the most amazing black and white and for red that I've ever used photo shop action and I love it because a lot of people have what they call their their infrared but it doesn't ever look like really infrared film and I shot with riel infrared infrared film so I know what it looks like and it is absolute the very best I've ever used um and then I also love digital anarchy for creating there's some really cool textures for their backgrounds which are really really fun um bay photo makes amazing marketing materials that I use literally all the time and I love marketing materials and I'd like to change them up in my studio I think that's important to keep fresh and not and that's the thing I like about short they could do short runs for me and that's an important thing because when you could do short runs say again you can you could you could today you could try one thing and then later on maybe two weeks from now you could have a different campaign and I love variety because it helps people see your range your range of skill and I think that's a really powerful tool um I love love love epic albums because they do have a variety of really cool products are made in italy and they do my family books they do my boudoir books and of course wedding albums as well and they have a variety of books and I think that's important because remember me telling you about how important it is what people wear well you see what I might like in a wedding album it would be different or what I might like in a family book could be different than what any one of you would like maybe what jassem yes mien would like to have it's going to be different than test and I think it's important for you and I to be able to offer a variety of different things so not trying to belabor the point but I think it really does make a huge difference absolutely crazy about printing my own work all of our enlargements are printed in the studio I do all my own printing for wall portrait's and I love using my absent printers it is not a cheaper less expensive way to print but the thing that I love about it is that it has really enhanced my creativity it's fabulous because I can get an idea in my mind against it well what if I do it this way and I can immediately try it out and see the result so it has allowed me to try new concepts um and then be able to really to explore some things and creativity and I think that's really the key to my success is keeping my approach and my vision fresh in addition to that I love printing on large printers like the ninety eight hundred or the ninety nine hundred because I can print huge ginormous wall portrait's on di use those I give those to my bridal salon you know like if they have all create displays for the shops for some of the salons in the area and of course there it's it's beautiful free advertisement and a spur weddings it's just a terrific tool um and it means I can create all kinds of really unique banners and such that are very very powerful one of the newest things that I've done we have a local we try to cross promote with a lot of local vendors because let's face it if we have like if we're like minded then we can promote each other and so we have a couple of hair salons in the bay area that we have done lots of work for one of miss called changes salon and then there's the robert jensen salon in lafayette california and this is what we did we walked in we said hey you know what we sent him a beautiful beautiful promo piece and he said hey you know we noticed by the way and looking at your website that you don't have any pictures of the people that worked in your salon and here's what we could help we'd love to come in and you know on dh we'd love to come in and do a day where we come in photograph all your stylist so I went in and did all these wonderful headshots and once people I photograph them their mind I know that we can we get along and it's about the experience of course I know I can take a picture so I went in and did these beautiful head shot and then afterwards we said you know we'd love to have an evening with your salon and let's do some lets you saw an event for charity and so it allowed us an opportunity for me to showcase some of my imagery in there salon in an evening clients came in and they paid a fee to have there to have their pictures taken by me that evening for facebook and then all of the proceeds were donated to the local food bank or you know other different chairs like we're going to do one for another salon for the american cancer society so not only is there a way for you to give back you know to your community and make you look like a hero so much fun and it is such a powerful tool and then because you've got all these people gabbing about whatyou dio I mean there's nobody the universe that talks more than a hairdresser does so then we created this amazing poster for the for the salon and hand signed it with all the stylist pictures on it so it's a really cool way to be able to create something very quickly because I can print it right in my studio and for these local vendors and it's just a really really powerful thing I love triple scoop music we do slide shows for all of our portrait boudoir sessions and I want to be able to sell that slide show to a client I think that's really important for me to be ableto have the opportunist cell and I love working with companies like triple scoop music I can purchase a royalty free piece of music so that means that I can actually sell it with a good conscience I don't use popular music for my slide shows it's you know unless I'm paying for it it's it's stealing and why would I wouldn't want anybody to copy my pictures so I want to do it right so triple scoop music we use an emoto for some beautiful fund slide shows it's literally moron ic you just dump him in and it creates a slide show they have some slide shows I prefer the ones that are very simple I don't I'm not a big fan of all the swirly things and stuff like that I want to keep it very clean and very very simple and then after that you smuggling pro and then pro select software which is the very best software in the universe as far as I'm concerned for selling to my client's whether it be a portrait session or family or boudoir or whatever the case so those are the tools that I use he's after effort after capture so now let's talk about a little bit I'll take a look give you a very quick tour of my studio this is one of the walls in my studio these porches center in my studio are very largest there at least sixty inches large because if you want if you want your clients to buy big how in the world are going to do that if you don't show big so I have very large images in my studio I create posters about thes and that underneath our tagline what the picture was about or you know give it a title and then the date that I shot the image and that way people start seeing me mohr as a photographic artist than just someone with a good camera and when they start viewing you as an artist guess what that's when it overrides the logic of old my lord you know your your pictures are so expensive or you know there's three photographers will this photographer's eight by tens air only two dollars and ninety five cents and this one's will his a ten bucks and oh my goodness yours or so muchmore well well while why you see I want them when they start viewing you as an artist that pulls you away from that logical process and that's really important we don't want him to think logically we want them to think with their heart and you know first of all we wouldn't have the national debt in america if people bought within their means actually took place I think I've ever been to where they buy within their means or scottish people you know they tend to just know they're very logical you know and I'm sure there's some of them that that by crazy but but as a general rule especially california's like charge it charge it so my goal is to have people think when they look at my pictures I don't want him to think I want to feel and if they feel about your pictures then it will override any logic that's associated with it and they have to find a way to purchase what you have and I think that's a really really powerful powerful tool so what we're really large really large pictures the next thing that I want you'll notice that all my on the side over here that I have a fireplace mantel we use that for pictures in the studio we move it around the studio quite a bit a small bench I'm not one for a lot of props I don't like a lot of stuff this is actual interior of my studio space my studios in venetia california um we don't usually put pictures on the couch but every once in a while just for something random I like surprises I want people when they walk into the o well what's that you see if everything is is so logical and it's so predictable thing guess what it's a bit boring so I prefer to put things and kind of random places at times it just kind of shake things up a little bit the balls are gone I no longer have the balls in the studio because I'd like to change it up a bit in my space I haven't eighteen hundred square foot studio space with lots and lots of windows so we use the window sometimes for portrait for window light as well is using our beautiful strobes as well um this couch right here that this gentleman is sitting on is that couch that's exactly where it's located but notice how I use it you see how soft it goes how about how the focus falls off right behind the subject and notice the light because that's what today's programs about about lighting and posing lighting because lighting is what gives your subject it's dimensionality that's what gives you gives it its depth for the picture and look at the shadows on his face and we've got a nice big light source in his eyes you can tell because the shadow on his face is very soft so on the on the left hand side I used to just a simple reflector to just pop a little bit more light on that left hand side to create a bit of separation between his face and the background but this is why when you look at the back and see how soft it is it doesn't compete for your attention your eye goes right to the subject that's that's what you want and that's what you want because when people start seeing themselves and they don't start their eye doesn't dance around the picture then they don't notice things like light sockets on the floor they don't notice imperfections it goes away and if any of you have ever photographed at the first church of ugly ville hey I got then you know that this is going to be one your best tools are those fast lenses this lenses were that one point to one point eight where the depth of field and the field of focus is very very shallow

Class Description

Do you have problems diverse groups of clients? Are you unsure if your lighting and posing are on point? Join award-winning and Nikon Ambassador Bambi Cantrell in this comprehensive class covering all aspects of posing, lighting and developing a successful portrait studio.

In this class, Bambi will:

  • Show you the best lighting for different scenarios
  • Camera angles that flatter
  • How to add creativity to your portrait shoots

You will learn ​Bambi​'s​ secrets of how she continues to innovate in her photography and business​.​


a Creativelive Student

I almost didn't bought this course due to low rating and what other reviewers were saying about her, but because it was on sale at incredibly low price that i decided to bite the bullet. And I am so glad I did. First of, for those reviewer that find her offensive, because she talks loud or make some jokes to her models or her audience, i don't think that it is offensive at all and neither did her audience or everyone in the studio. As a matter of fact, they were enjoying it. And I did too, was laughing while watching them laugh and having a good time. There was nothing wrong with the audio. I heard her just fine. I found her class to be the best class ever because she only not answers questions by theory, she demonstrate them live with the participation of her audience and the creative live crew and that's what made her class very interesting and not boring. She also uses real people and not models with perfect sizes or figures and it really helped me a lot because i have a challenge when it comes to posing plus sized people. I love her sense of bluntness, humor and at the same time, all the wonderful nuggets of wisdom she shared to her audience. I had purchased tons of creative class about photography and to tell you honestly, i haven even watched the full content on some of these classes because i get sleepy and bored but with Bambi's class, i watched her class in just 2 days without even feeling bored. I don't write reviews and in fact this is my first time to write a review here on creative live because i just feel the need to say that it's very unfair for her to be criticized liked that. I love you Bambi, I love your personality, I love your style and the information you taught were very invaluable. Thank you.

Melissa Baker Griffin

Loved the invaluable lessons! I can't wait to go through them all again. They are jam packed with valuable and tactical information that creatives on every level can take from. Her energy and personal style creates a great experience! I can only imagine how cool it would be to take a class from her in person! She is such a treat and so inspiring! I LOVE how enthusiastic Bambi is about the questions she receives and encourages phototgraphers to continue to grow, learn, and think out of the box. Thank you creative live! I feel like there should've been something like fire works at the end because she did outstanding!

Anne Dougherty

I’ll be honest. Ms Cantrell moves very fast, but her experience, humor and confidence are infectious. I thought I would check out a lesson or two and ended up watching and listening to her entire program. She is clear about her process and why it works so well. Her portraits are beautiful, whether individual or group situations. I thoroughly enjoyed the presentations, and I am a landscape and pet photographer. But I feel like I learned a lot about seeing, and was reminded of approaches to running your own creative business that are valuable for anyone. I have been very impressed by the professional instructors in every one of the CreativeLive courses I’ve watched or bought. It’s not every professional who can teach! I know. I am one who could not handle classroom situations. So happy I was able to join in on these classes. Thank you, Bambi, for all of your energy, and for sharing your knowledge with all of us. This was quite a ride!