Posing a client Outdoors

Posing to me is one the most fun and challenging parts of what we do.  While the studio allows us to pose clients in different ways at different heights, outdoors you are challenged by lack of adjustable posing aides (you can’t move rocks, downed tree limbs or the ground where you need them to be) and the need to place the subject where you want them within the scene. In most natural locations, you have the ground, rocks/downed trees near the ground and you have standing/leaning poses.  When I look for a location to start using, I not only look for a variety of different backgrounds (greenery, water, hills, etc.) I look for the ability to pose clients in different ways at different levels.

Being that I work all during the mid-day hours, I have be able to effectively raise and lower the client to place them in a usable space of background, since so much of many backgrounds are burnt up by the harsh mid-day sun.  With a variety of posing height options, I have control over where in the background my subject will appear.  This, combined with raising or lowering the camera height and angle and I can place my subject in the portion of the frame which gives just the right amount of separation and coordinates the best for the look I am trying to achieve.

Personally, I love using the ground.  It reflects the relaxed feeling of the outdoors in a natural location and the clothing I have suggested to coordinate with that location. Whether it is a senior or family, people feel the most comfortable when they are completely grounded (sitting on the ground).  The only exception is when dealing with people who have a problem getting down to the ground, whether because of age or physical condition.  Posing on the ground for these people is uncomfortable and unnatural, so standing or leaning are always a much better choice.

When posing a client on the ground, remember what ever touches the ground and weight is put on widens out, unless there is a bone directly under the surface of the skin.  This is true whether posing the arms and putting weight on the elbow (as opposed to the forearm) or the bottom, hips and thighs, placing the weight on the side of the hip, by having the client roll onto it (as opposed to sitting flat on their bottom).  Another area that photographer have problems with is the arms that help support the body.  Women especially will have the body weight against the upper arm causing it to enlarge.  Make sure to completely separate the arm from the body to avoid this mushroom effect.

The only time to have a client sit flat on their bottom is if the knees will be raised up, this puts the weight of the body on their tailbone which eliminates the spreading effect of weight being put on a fleshy part of the body like the bottom, hips or thighs. Once the client’s body core is in the correct position, it is simply a matter of posing the legs and arms to achieve the look you are going for. Outdoors, the look is natural, casual and very much “a slice of life” type posing (in the majority of images and typically these are the images which sell best).  Natural poses are resting poses, the arms rest on the legs, the face rests on the hands, the body reclines to the elbow, etc.  These pose tie in well to the casual feeling produced by the typically outdoor scene and the casual clothing I instruct my clients to bring.  If a young lady shows up in more elegant clothing, than more glamorous styles of posing are used to coordinate with that feeling.

Last suggestion, when posing a client look for areas that give you elements in the foreground, whether taller grass, tree limbs or rocks, these elements can be used to soften the areas of your clients body they would rather not see.  Weight is a major issue in our society and tree limbs, tall grass  or any other natural obstruction can hide a less than flat stomach or larger hips.  In addition foreground elements create much more depth and realism in the final portraits.  With a variety of foreground element leading your eye to the subject and elements receding further and further away from the subject in the background you create a huge amount of depth in your portraits.

For a complete guide to posing, outdoor lighting and selecting unique locations view the sample clip of my New DVD Outdoor Portrait Photography, Intro priced at $59.95

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~ by jeffsmithbooks on August 22, 2010.

One Response to “Posing a client Outdoors”

  1. Another great post!

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