Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Q and A... Posing

Kiki from In Its Time asked a question.

Here's a photography question for you! Do you ever feel awkward telling people how to pose? How do you tell them and where do you draw posing ideas from? I'd love to inherit some of that photography knowledge from you if you're willing to share! :)

Great questions Kiki!

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Do I ever feel awkward telling people how to pose?

They pay me to be the photographer and make them look good.

It's interesting because I have a huge personal space bubble but something happens when I am photographer and I'm all up in people's space... fixing their hair, moving their hands, straightening out their clothes. No one has ever minded. Or if they did they didn't say so.

I think part of it is that I'm such a dork and I talk a lot and just be me... and during a shoot that seems to put people at ease.

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So.. how do I tell them to pose?
Here's my secret... I don't do a whole lot of posing. Posing is definitely a weakness of mine... that could be because I don't have a ton of knowledge about it... or it could be that I've chosen not to learn too tooo much about posing because I'm not a huge fan of it.

Yes, posing is important and doing things right can really help a photo work. But I'm a huge fan of letting people be themselves. I don't want to tell them to stand in a way that they would never stand simply because it will look awesome in a photo. Now that you know that...

I usually say something like "Go sit down over in that grassy spot" or "lean up against that wall like you would if you were just hanging with some friends". From there I might have them just turn a little bit toward or away from the camera. I might ask them to hook a thumb in their pocket or move their arm a little closer to their body. I might tell them chin up or chin down just a little bit. But that's about the extent of posing I do.

It was interesting... not too long ago I met Maura for her senior portraits. I had never met her before but found out right away that she was a no frills girl... beautiful! for sure but not your girly girl. She wasn't looking forward to getting her pics done. I don't blame her. I've always been the same. I promised her right from the start that I wasn't going to make her act like someone she wasn't. I wanted to get pictures of Maura that looked like Maura!

There was another girl at the same location getting her senior portraits done by another photographer. This girl was being posed every step of the way... and she seemed to be enjoying it. It fit her. She changed several times while we were there and wore things like her prom dress. She was into it. And that's fine. But that wasn't what was going to work for Maura.

We were talking about the difference and I said that my goal as a photographer is to produce photos that people will look at and say "Oh! That is soooo her!" If someone looks at the photos and says "that's so not her... even though it's super pretty and nice" then I have failed at producing a portrait.

So I let my people be themselves. I let them stand like they stand or sit like they sit. And then I tweak it just a little bit so they don't have monster hands (you know those hands that are just splayed wide open on a leg or something and look as big as their head!?). I give them direction on where to look. But mostly I just like to work with them and what they already do.

Of course... when you are working with a family of five a lot more thought has to go into positioning... but I still like to start with letting them be them and then tweaking until we get stuff that translates well in a photo.

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And lastly... and where do I draw posing ideas from?
Google images.

Those are three places where before a shoot I will search the type of shoot I am looking for and draw some ideas from others.

I also watch clothing ads and watch for different ways they have their people stand, sit, whatever. Because let's face it, people DO need direction but I prefer to be vague with some of that direction.

I hope that gave you some ideas Kiki! It's probably not the answer you were expecting but I find that people are most beautiful when they are at ease and being themselves... so I let them be them because too much posing can make a person focus on the posing instead of just being.

Got a question for me?  It can be photography related or not.  Just leave a comment or send me an email. And feel free to add your posing tips in the comments!

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