I'm guessing you are one of three types of people: you are either a casual photographer wanting to do your family's or a friend's portraits; you are a pretty good amateur photographer looking to delve further into the business; or, you are a professional photographer wondering what you're missing in your photos. Either way, this article is for you!
The key element of photography is most definitely lighting - without good light, the photo will not do your subject justice. The second most important element of photography is posing. The photographer is responsible for making each of their clients feel like he or she are the most beautiful and photogenic people on this planet. Learning to pose your subject well can make all the difference!
The first step in getting a good pose is to do nothing more than size up the person. In my experience, people look the most comfortable and natural when they pose as naturally as possible. Before I ever pose a subject, I will say, "Go stand over there and just relax," "Have a seat right there - just how you would naturally sit," or "Strike a pose - anything." Often times, the position the subject takes looks great, especially after you tweak just a couple of things. The key here though is to make sure you aren't making the subject feel like posing is their responsibility - that makes the moment awkward and you'll get an awkward pose. After I ask my subject to stand or sit somewhere, I pretend like I'm playing with my camera, so they don't feel like they are performing for me. Then I take a look, usually compliment them on their natural posing ability and go from there. After the compliment, they are much more relaxed and comfortable with how they hold their bodies. Keep in mind, some people (I would say maybe 1/4 of my subjects) just don't pose well naturally. That's ok. Keep them as relaxed as possible, and they'll catch on!
The second step is "tweaking" the subject's natural pose. Here are just a few key items to remember with a single individual:
1. Do not photograph a woman with her body facing the camera straight on. It's not flattering for the vast majority of women. Keep her body angled to enhance the curves of her figure. Turn her body away from the light source to increase the texture in her clothing as well.
2. For women, if it bends, bend it. If the hip can pop, pop it. Tip her head towards the light source. And that hair? It's the photographer's responsibility - keep an eye on it and avoid stray pieces here and there.
3. Posing men can be easier, because they don't need much tweaking because they are less self conscious but it can also be more difficult because they worry about coming off feminine. Keep this in mind and keep their poses straight on and broad to enhance their masculinity.
4. Avoid shooting straight into the crotch - if a man's legs are naturally spread apart, keep you camera pointing at a downward angle.
5. Avoid raised eyebrows to avoid unflattering and unnecessary wrinkles.
For couples or groups, here are a few rules of thumb:
1. Hands can be tricky. Do not allow a man's hand to engulf the midsection of a woman or hide a woman's entire shoulder. Keep his hands on her hips or on the small of her back. Also, watch to make sure the hands look relaxed and not strained. Keep the fingers slightly bent, not clenched or straight out.
2. Kissing - keep the woman's nose in front of the man's and always have a man kiss the woman's temple, not her cheek. This avoids a "smushed" look.
3. Line up a person's eye with the other person's mouth when placing faces side by side.
4. Keep faces on the same plane to avoid someone being blurred out.
5. Avoid totem poles!
6. Have your subjects interact with each other to see how they naturally "fit" together.
7. Try to position groups so that individual faces form triangles.
Now, disregard any or all of the above if you are going for a more artistic feel - these tips are for tried and true natural looking photographs. I've found that if the subject feels overly awkward with how you position them, they will look awkward in the photo, remember how awkward they felt, and as a result, not like the photo. Use the subject's natural way of holding him/herself and just tweak a few elements. Doing so will result in beautiful, timeless photos your subject will cherish!
posted by michaelabela.weebly.com