Posing on Location

Is posing different on location than in the studio?  Yes it is, in the studio you have familiar sets and posing aids, whether they be a chair, chase, bridge or staircase.  We use these areas so often in our studio we quickly get comfortable with the “usual” poses we use with each set.  Although this isn’t  very creative it is the way many photographers are because we like to be comfortable (just look at the way most of them dress!) when they shoot and photographers tell themselves if they don’t have to worry about the posing and lighting they can focus on the subject.  That made my head hurt just saying, but this is the way some photographers work.

Now take that same “comfortable photographer” out to a location and what happens.  He looks for and finds his favorite tree, he leans the girl against it and then sits her at the base of it. Then, for some variety, he looks for another area and finds his second favorite tree.  This photographer is once again trying to find a setup that he doesn’t have to think about.  The single biggest problem with outdoor lighting is the light from overhead and the tree has just blocked that and the tree trunk makes for an easy-to-use posing aid.  She can turn her back to the tree or turn around and face the tree.  Haven’t you ever wondered why there are so many hugging the tree photographs taken by photographers all over the country?  It’s easy!

Posing outdoors can be more of challenge, but like most challenging things you have many more opportunities in posing outdoors that you simply don’t have in the studio. I like using the ground to pose on.  Outdoor portraits have an overall casual feeling and people never look more comfortable than when they are sitting or laying on the ground.  I look for natural outdoor areas with tall grass that isn’t cut and manicured.  This tall grass gives me the ability to hide some of my client (which is more important now than ever when the cutest, most athletic young ladies are getting a little “hippie”).  I sit the young lady in the tall grass, have her roll over to the side of her hip (instead of flat on her bottom) and between the tall grass and the pose she looks much thinner.

Laying down flat on the stomach is a type of posing that allows even young ladies without a flat stomach to take full length poses.  Laying on the stomach in taller grass also soften the line of the body so it reduces the apparent size.  Outdoor locations also give us the opportunity to pose the client at different level with the rocks, uneven terrain, benches and the banks of lake or stream.  Unless someone is tall and very lean, a standing full length pose isn’t going to provide the best image for the clients ego to handle.  A much better option is to have them sitting on something like a rock or the bank of a stream.  You can pose the body to hide the flaws, by using the arms and legs to hide the part of the body the average client worries about the most.  In a seated pose, bring up the leg closest to the camera and you have just hidden a less than flat stomach or a young ladies roll from her jeans being too tight.  Extend the arm to hide parts of the thighs or waistline that you don’t want the camera to see.

And getting back to every photographers favorite tree.  If you are going to take a tree shot, why not let the tree trunk hide the body of the subject and have just their upper body come out from around the tree.  This “peek-a-boo” type pose keeps the heaviest part of the client hidden while stretching out the upper body (to make it appear thinner) as it extends around the tree.  While you are working outdoors don’t forget about posing for the best sales.  In the studio (as well as outdoors) the best selling portraits are those with a larger facial size and of those, the most popular are the extreme close ups.  This looks just as good outdoors as in the studio.

There are times when an outdoor location gives you very limited posing options, as did this field of wildflowers, (otherwise know as weeds)  It was a lot close to our home which is a very large lot (about 3/4 of an acre) but not large enough to not see the houses and fences at the edge of the lot in standing poses. So I knew I would need to lower the client into a majority of sitting poses.   The grass/flowers/weeds were so high the ground really wasn’t an option.  If she sat down on the ground, she would have just been a head on top of the flower, so I had to bring my own posing aid.  Rather going more natural to blend into the scene I wanted to contrast with the scene, so I brought a Gucci Gold victorian chair from the studio and had the young lady in a nice dress and heels to match the look of the chair.

Posing on location is challenging but give us the greatest opportunity to make our clients look their best.  Plan test sessions at the locations you work and find the best areas to use at different times of day and at different times of year, but practice, because practice more than laziness will make you feel comfortable while you are photographing so you can concentrate on the client!

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~ by jeffsmithbooks on March 21, 2010.

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