Skip to main content

Posing Masterclass

Lesson 2 of 36

Location Challenges

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

2. Location Challenges

Lesson Info

Location Challenges

let's talk about some location challenges and and how that relates to the way that you light an image if you look at this picture of this shone lady this was one of the images I shot for metropolitan bride magazine and when I worked with metropolitan bride they chose the location and I loved it was a great place how this amazing brick but then when the hairdresser started working their hair they created this amazing headpieces with all of these beautiful beautiful orchids do you see how the orchids are kind of get lost in her hair so I started thinking okay this was in springfield missouri and I'm from california so I didn't bring any backgrounds with me so I started thinking well what can I do with what I've got and that's one of my favorite things to do is I love pulling a rabbit out of the hat I love thinking out of the box photographically I want people to think we'll use random things as backgrounds anything random the floor could be a background pull your subject away from the wa...

ll and the wall is because more diffused but even when I did that you see I pulled her away from the wall but it still was a bit too obvious in the background the lighting that was used was justin opened ah big a big window just a large large window but look at the quality of light on the subject's face now the lighting was beautiful it was coming in at the correct angle see that's in about eleven o'clock position in the eye skimming across the face in a very soft dramatic way and then we had that beautiful cheekbone where the shadow is and that's what we're looking for is we want highlighted areas right here and then we want shadows and then I'm on another highlight and then more shadows and that's a great way when you sculpt that chie can it just really gives that face this beautiful sculpted look so once I did that I got okay I got the light right but what is missing okay so I had to find a way to neutralize that background so what did I do to neutralize the background no I did not do this in photo shop I think it would take a lot more work to do it in photo shop I wouldn't want to think about the time again think out of the box so what did I do I used this red couch this is accounts that was a prop that they brought along and I went oh my gosh I know what I'm going to do so I took the couch and I just flipped it up on its end so that this end right here was up here and I placed her against the couch with her bottom and then had her lean forward to pull her head and her hair away from that background to bet make that back from me less in focus and that was what I used to create that picture so let's go back for a second so there's our before and then after and that's our picture and that's where it all came from and you see that's why it's important I think for all of us to start thinking on the box think of random experiences that weaken you and I can do to creature neutralize unpleasant background thinking about that by the way that's one of the best reasons for someone to hire you as the photographer because you know howto handle those location challenges so let's move forward okay this is just a white wall now this white wall happens to be in my studio very very simple whitewall now I know you're just probably dying because you love my real fancy reflector over here on the right hand side that reflector is just a piece of insulation board from home depot and we got really creative with it and put a nice piece of beautiful duct tape around the edges but I like it because it's a very big it's a very tall piece I can really bounce the light in on that right hand side I used my tripod toe hold it up I haven't used a tripod for actually photographing for years and the reason is this is you can tell I like to move around and I find that when you move around with your subjects you get beautiful pictures you get more interesting photographs and different pictures without having to move them see especially for what if I'm doing wedding pictures the more I have to move that bride the more I have to think about oh I got a roof left that train it takes time and I would love to do a variety of fabulous pictures just like that I want to get it done really quickly and I want to be able to move on and go to different things but it's a little showy hive used this wall to create pictures like this can you tell what the background is no it's very clean and simple this is all about the face notice again where the catch lights are in the eyes they're just about that eleven o'clock position very soft light you can tell that it's a soft light by the edge of the shadow it's a very soft edge on that shadow so coming in tight on your subject pulled them a little bit away from the background the beauty of this is that you can do beautiful pictures anywhere you could do them in the bathroom at the howard johnson's in san francisco you could do them in a client's home or use their front door so it opens up all kinds of wonderful possibilities if you just start looking at backgrounds as something neutral just a neutral you go like this and kind of squint a little bit and if you walk around room you you start just noticing shapes you don't notice what it really is like that's a wall I mean that's that's you know that's paneled wall that's what I know with my brain but if I go like this it just kind of goes into tone ality and so it's a great way to train yourself pulling my little my little fireplace mantle over to that very same wall I can create beautiful fine art news and beautiful boudoir pictures in this photograph it's really silly are my mantelpiece is only about this wide and no her backside isn't quite that narrow I don't know of anyone who's got a backside that narrow so here's where you again where it's about being ingenious and being thinking outside the box so I start thinking I want to be able to put a subject on top of that mantle but I need them to actually not feel like they're gonna fall off so what I did is I pulled the fireplace mantle about this far from the wall so that there's a gap this big between the mantle and the background okay and then I took suitcases we've got a bunch of old suitcases I stacked them up so that I had so that I had a bit of stability behind behind the fireplace mantel and then I brought my big red couch over and said it in front now you can't tell by looking at this photograph but that red couch is just out of camera view right here the great thing about it is that if she fell off guess what she falls on the couch she's not gonna hurt herself but and then also it gives it a lot more stability so that it's not going to move around so it means that you have a lot more area to work in so by pulling my subject up on this mantel we have a fan just off of camera view that's blowing her hair a bit I'm able to create some beautiful meaningful images afterwards this particular photograph was worked by johnson penny for me he was only created this amazing texture that goes over to take it from just being a literal picture to being something that's more fine art that's really important is to move yourself as I mentioned for about moving into that fine art realm because then when you do that people would hang that piece in their home because it's not like oh that's a big picture of me naked it because a beautiful fine art piece which is very acceptable like anything you see in an art gallery same exact whitewall simple simple simple thing just moving my subject on the backside and using the main lights over here to rim light her hair and her body see that you can tell the light is actually the main lights coming from behind her over on this left hand side see how it just kind of kisses the side of her face and it highlights a portion of her hair to create an image that is less literal and something that is just a bit more sensuous I encourage all of you to practice these concepts in your mind and this is how you do it no matter where you are maybe you're having lunch today at your home or you're in a restaurant eating or just walking down the street or or standing in line to go to the movies I want you to start thinking about the way the light falls on the subject's face find an imaginary person in the crowd that you want to work with that you're in your mind you're thinking about and just study the way that they stand and then move yourself around them to see the way the light falls where the best angle is you see if you go ahead and train yourself now to do that then you know what happens it means that you're never that photographer going okay well let's try over here no no no I don't like uh let's go right now and like that you see that makes you look like an amateur and that you don't know what you're doing and I don't want you to be that way but if you rehearse in your mind and you give yourself scenarios little little games that you play all the time in your brain and guess what it means that you're never ever having teo regroup okay let's try this you know you always know where you're going and you can walk with confidence because ah here's this room because at the end of the day light is light environments are the same thing like this could be the inside of any church this could also be the inside of a home the same similar lighting scenarios apply to various locations so don't be so literal minded thinking oh well this is the first baptist church and I have to photograph this room differently than I have to photograph the evangelical free church over on second you see start looking at environments that are in the same tonality as one so the first baptist church in atlanta georgia being beautiful and light tone and on the inside hey so is this room so you see how that could start really moving you and to go into creating beautiful images and so the same concept that I apply toe weddings I also apply to when it comes to photographing families and children is you're going to see a cz we go on same exact young the different ladies sitting on that fireplace mantle this was just laying down noticed by bringing one knee up and also in relation to that light source you see how the light is coming in over from this left hand side it's lighting her from the front from over here where is my camera position in relation to that light source my camera position is about forty five degrees why is that because for two reasons number one you see where the light falls were the highlights are that's got to be your subject and I don't want this arm because it's a little closer to the lens of the camera than her face if I stood over here to photograph it guess what this is going to be brighter than the face and it's going to pull the I from the beauty of that face to that arm and it's going to take away from your picture so as it is by photographing from forty five degrees I'm able to see that beautiful face have a very narrow strip of light on the arm and then it crosses across her back we get a nice highlight on the booty and then we get a beautiful highlight on that leg by the way by bending this front leg a little bit it kind of accentuates the butt cheek and it gives it a little bit of perk so these are all little simple techniques that you can employ to create beautiful imagery this this particular photograph again in fact I treated this one I just added a beautiful texture screen on the cup on the front of it to just take it away from being so literal by the way if you have any questions while we're going on feel free to ask questions okay I want you to feel comfortable okay this is just a ugly little hallway this is actually in my building and of all things you think they would've put daylight balanced lights in here no way lovely green fluorescent lighting in here but I look at the architecture does the architecture work well because we can correct for the light we can change the color temperature because we're using digital cameras it's really super easy to just dial in for that light source that you can compensate for that or you converted to black and white and you're home free but quite often I want to go be on that I want to go beyond that and so this is a great time for me to use my beautiful studio lights so in this case it was actually not a sunny day at all when I shot this picture it was actually very cloudy but what I did is I used my d one light system I have my main light is actually outside and you see there's the reflector right there I didn't retouch it out just so you could see it see that it's a small octopus ink it's a small like I think two foot octa bank that is my main light it's up you notice it's up high because I need this I want the energy flowing in this downward pattern towards the subject I felt that that was really important then we took tomb or d one lights there on the wall that's opposite over here on this side and they're bouncing they're aimed at the wall over here now why would I aim at the wall over on this side because I want to create a huge light source you see if I bounce those lights off this wall then guess what they're going to illuminate the other side and give me a large light source so it's a great way to take a small basically a small reflector a small light source a small parabolic or whatever you want to use if you bounce it off a large blank canvas then you take that small light source and you make it into a very big light source and so I was able to do that so now we get these beautiful highlights and then shadows and more highlights and then shadows so it gives your picture dimensionality so we can really create a variety of experiences for our subjects and we don't have to be locked into anything and and that's one of the things I've you have to tell you I used to be one of those people who's oh no I'm only going to use natural light but you know what I have learned that it's important again keep an open mind and say well maybe today the lights a little flat and maybe that's not the look that I'm going for so become don't be lazy I think that's really what it boils down to is that the photographers to me the difference between the photographers who are amazing photographers that you and I just want to be like when we grow up and those that are ho hum is not always their skill it's the fact that they're not lazy the ones that actually get it done they really are not lazy they're willing to do whatever they need to to get the job done yes I have a question ban me from the internet from our minds and this goes back to a couple of shots and when you were photographing the subject on the mantle yes some a forty five degree angle can you explain again what did you mean it the question isn't what the ninety degree angle versus the forty five degree angle she would've captured more of the light on the arm which said she was avoiding so what let me just go back quickly okay so here is my subject okay so where am I standing in relation to the light source I'm right here this is where I captured it in that window is over on the left you see if I'm the more I moved myself in the same direction as the white the more of this hot thought more of the brightness I'm going to see it's gonna broaden out that light source which means from my subject is gonna make her look bigger isn't a woman in this room by the way that wants to look the fatter and flatter than she is no so we wanted all of us even the even the thinnest girls enrolled one they always a little fat want to kill him for that but you know I will not kill him but I really want to take him out spank him or something and not in a good way I'm sorry things they're gonna come out of my mouth from but you know what remember it's that old lady who's showing up on this screen it's not really me because you and I both know that that's not me really so but I hope that that answers the question so just what I recommend that you do to practice this concept is get a light source goto a window which is an easy light source for you to do take a subject over there and then I want you to take neural crumbs or pictures with your brain and say in your monkey well what does it look like if I photographed from here okay well how does it look if I move this way notice how much less thank you how much minimize that person looks or the body part that is closer to the camera all right come here for a second just use you as a model can I have your uk five you take off your little your little rap I want to show your arms okay so now hang on I want to make sure see where my main light is here okay good actually this this works out great okay now where is the main light when she's standing right here where is the main light coming from yeah it's coming from over there how do I know we'll look at the highlights on her arm right here you see it okay now for my camera guys can't won't you just go from there and I'd love you to move over this way now cape enough forty five degrees would be right here correct but notice what happens the more I move this way do you notice and now I want you to squint for you people the audience I want you to squint I know it looks really weird to see us we look really strange but notice what you see first you see now because I'm photographing in the same direction as the light source first thing I see arm and it's bigger than her face it becomes bigger because there's more light here and it's closer to the camera lens that it would be on the face so all right that's a great great question thank you so much for asking it okay let's move on sometimes we wantto have we can take that that really ugly background and we can neutralize it but just creating a silhouette so one of the things I like doing in this hallway I love the arches around my studio I think there are a lot of fun to work with but occasionally I'll want to neutralize that and just converted to black and white I love marcus bell's number twenty two black and white is absolutely my very favorite black and white action to use it's really crisp clean black and white one of the other ones that I like a whole lot are the knicks silver effects pro fabulous for if you want a lot of variety marcus is what you see is what you get but with the knick software it's really great because you can give your whole variety notice the way I have him walking down the walking down the hallway there is thought behind it I'm not just having a walk down the hallway like this because you don't want their legs separated like we would normally want we want them to walk with one foot in front of the other like this because we want to keep the silhouette which is this part of his body we want we want to go into a v it gives that makes that subject really pleasing it's very beautiful and and also having a little bend in the elbows not a big bend like this but just a slight bend I haven't put his hands in his pocket and then just have a little bend in the elbows to just create a bit of a light trap I want a little light trap right here and here because then it gives context to shape context to shape um there are other times though when I want to I like creating a bit of ah ah I don't want to silhouette for instance with this young lady's dress I shot this out in the desert a couple weeks ago when I was doing a shoot and notice how busy this is around here so I start thinking well now I could make this image completely black and white but the trade off from me was that I needed to go shooting this for metropolitan bride magazine which means you've got to show the clothes so this was about the back of her gown so she's it was actually raining outside and she actually walked out there on the patio was gonna walk we relieved we were about to leave and when she grabs her umbrella and she just looked out oh my god hang on what's left stop slow down and so then I took a light meter reading right here and I exposed for the back of her dress exposing for the back of the dress meant that in the background the outdoors is going to go completely it's gonna go very light which is good because I don't want anything to compete with the subject I don't want to compete with her down and that just say hey I want you in this case I understand flat footed which is something I very seldom do is to have someone stand flatfooted but why did I do that because it was in keeping with the style of the dress and with the style of that particular client and the environment it kind of reminded me of that very much the old world kind of like oh very proper and very perfect and it's also in keeping with the kind of gown that she's has on so by doing that by taking a light meter reading right here because this is a light colored dress remember that the light meter in your camera understands one thing and one thing only eighteen percent grade that's all it knows so when it averages a scene when it's taking when it's trying to meet her for the light it's on ly thinking in relation to eighteen percent grade that's important when you're photographing a very light colored dress because it's going to actually under expose if you go if you if you just listen to what the meter says in your camera it's going under expose that dress because it thinks ok I'm only wanting eighteen percent great but that dress is an eighteen percent greats lighter right so you have to fudge it a bit you have to think in your mind that maybe is a stop over eighteen percent grace so whatever it tells you and I shoot in manual meter mode because I like to be in control of my exposures then in that case then I will meet her for that now if I were photographing my beautiful mona right here look at mona come your q t now is the bonus is she eighteen percent gray no she's not her skin tones are a least a stop under eighteen percent gray so if I'm photographing her I have to keep that in mind in the face and and pay attention to what I'm earing it what the meter says and then I have to compensate that for that depending on what the subject is thank you precious okay so let's go forward way don't okay you have another question yeah question from from rome a cesium not sure if you said this but exposing for the back of the bride's dress was that was spot metering no good question that's an excellent question no I used the evaluative mita ring which is thie the little circle with the dot in the middle but you could absolutely you spot meeting if you chose to eye person like the values of meeting it's just that because of my years of experience as a photographer I know I'm photographing a white dress and that's kind of what the theme of that picture is then I know that I have to compensate and I will because I'm shooting in manual if it says one thing I'm going to go up a click and over exposed by maybe a half a stop to a stop the picture that you saw that beautiful bride with a veil right around her face that was over exposed by a stop and a half because I really wanted to create that very soft ethereal look I really encourage all of you viewers out there whatever you're photographing tto learn to become very cognizant of what your exposures are not only does that mean less work and photo shop later on and yes the cool thing about working with raw is that we have four stops of exposure compensation we can go in and correct for it afterwards but heck why not get it right in the camera and then and you don't have to mess with it and I love love love one of my favorite things to do especially these days is I'm enjoying experimenting with over exposure black princess ara skin tones are very soft and very light she got very light skin I love over exposing a bit to really get that creaminess of the skin to to show up and make it really beautiful okay here we have a pretty unattractive environment this is also in this is right in my studio in fact that's my building right behind it but I found some elements in this that I really liked for instance I love this piece right here I love the way these this this ivy goes and I think this is a really interesting environment so how can you photograph outside first and and be able to get beautiful images without a lot of fuss okay well let me show you what's on the other side of this wall that what's the good thing about this yes what you know the best thing about this is the color tone ality of it you see this light this white wall right here guess where the sun is may go back guess where the sun rises and sets the sun is over on the back side here so in the afternoon the sun is over here on this side it bounces onto this wall and guess what I get in front of that beautiful area I got a gorgeous gorgeous soft light so one of my favorite things to do on this is an engagement photograph I shot they're one of my very favorite thanks to do whenever I go outside if I want to use natural lighter from when he was just a son the first thing I'd do is say ok where's the sun where is it at so that's the sun I want to go okay I see that's where the sun is now I look turn opposite where is it bouncing off of so it would bounce off this white wall and then here is maybe where my subject is going to be standing if it's a background are on environment that is conducive to that but does that make sense so if you start training your mind ahead of time to start thinking in terms of where is the light source or how can I use the light source that I have at my disposal this is what it means to you it means that you can photograph earlier in the day than you're used to using because you know many of us were gonna photograph like that last hour and a half before sunset when the light is really soft and it's just very much skimming across your people but if you pay attention you can photograph at two o'clock in the afternoon just see where it's bouncing off the wall and it's a great great time of the day it can be a great time of the day to photograph um this is especially a great technique if you're living in a big city because the way the light falls on buildings and a big city it's really really pretty cause you get these beautiful corridors of soft silvery light just remember small light source bounced it on something big you make a huge enormous light source or we're going to learn more about that as we go on with today's program so notice with this young lady this is how I start every engagement session I start with interactive pictures not this same pose but interactive photographs now I want you to notice that the way that the subjects are dressed because that's critical to the a way that I'm going to pose them because I don't pose every subject the same look at the way that this young woman is dressed she was she came into the studio with just flip flops on and a pair of jeans the groom came in very very casually dressed and just jeans and a little shirt that told me that they were a bit more of a casual couple if I have a couple coming in and every perfect hair is all in place and her handbag matches her shoes that is a dead giveaway that that's a more structured clients she likes everything to bet more perfect so that I will use that to to dictate how I pose them and the way that they interact with one another what is this background tell you well this is a very busy background in this case though I chose to use the business of the background and make it work so you know it looks very contemporary doesn't it you see the background is well these wonderful swirls and if you look at the environment there's this beautiful short truce colored green right here and then he's white very stark couches so I chose instead of neutralizing it by by using a real shallow depth of field I just like you I'm gonna let it show up but subject placement was really important so what I did is I want to place her in front of this greenpeace right here which would create aa bit mohr of a neutral background for her and still showcase the environment that she was photographed in I'm using just a simple window there's just adore our window over on the left hand side and notice how we get those beautiful highlights and we get shadows and more highlights and shadows you see that's what gives her dimensionality is her body dimensionality and the post has to fit the environment it has to fit the field so by having her just sit there and just get a little bit more casual leaning forward in her seat that was it's a great way to get anyone to just look a bit more contemporary and give her a bit of a funky feel she's not just sitting straight on her but yes brooke he's a reflector no no reflector just just just what I saw and everything was with that green did you have to worry about a cast on her excellent excellent question no I didn't have to worry about that but because you see with the green first of all where the light's hitting it on the back side of her you see it's on the back side of herself like right in front of her and this a pillar right here was hidden so there was no direct light on it that's an excellent question brooke really really good question let me I want to do real quick demonstration on how I have people sit because this is after all master posing and lighting so let's see let's see I need to have tessa just calm your test and bring your chair with you okay tests just have a seat okay now this is basically unpressurized this is just basically the party post wouldn't you agree it is it's a potty post that's what you know what we do if we have to do our business okay so now but I want you to look at the way tessa looks and get the feel of the way her body feels in this okay now just relax test just relax this is how we just get cozy okay and comfortable but this isn't real flattering to like our tummy area it's not going to make us look particularly flattering so now tess let me have you stand up for a second and let me move this chair over this way so more people can see it this way okay now have a seat but this time when you sit down I want your dukes hanging off the edge of that seat I want youto barely park your butt on the edge of the seat okay barely parker but okay good job now I want you to lift up for just slightly with your put your hands right there on the chair and that's slide your booty back just a little bit perfect do you see how he shifted the wait see now she's not sitting on her but what is she sitting on her thighs do you need a notice how it keeps her back straight now if I wanted to get making a bit more of a sassy pose cross one leg over the other one oh like girl style just crossed over the top and then just bring your hand right right just like on your love it you see how it automatically places her body in the right zone excellent good good test

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!