Why Posing Sometimes Fails

Some photographers get frustrated in their search for usable poses for their clients.  This frustration is because of two important factors.  First of all is the way in which most of us learn posing. We go to conventions and seminars, buy books and videos that show us how to pose the perfect, model type person.  Then we take those poses back in to a working studio that has to photograph all types of people and most of the time those poses just don’t work.  Have you ever photographed a cute, high school or college cheerleader?  They are fit, used to posing for pictures in ways that make themselves look cute and are very sure of themselves to make the whole thing work.  If you learned posing with this perfect cheerleader and then your first client was a 40 mother of 3 that wasn’t a size 3, but a size 16 you would be at a complete loss as to how to pose a real person.  This is what most younger photographers do, they learn and practice on models, then get frustrated because most of their clients don’t look like models.

The second problem is that many photographers want to memorize poses that will work on everyone.  While there are some poses like that, most poses, just like lighting, composition and camera angles need to be adjusted or refined to work with each client and the unique characteristics of that person.  Same setting, same clothing, same lighting, two woman the same height and weight, however one woman’s weight is evenly distributed over her entire body, while the second woman of the same weight seems thinner because she carry’s her weight in her bust-line.  The larger bust-line makes the waist appear thinner because it tapers in and has the classic hour-glass shape.  Although in general, both woman are similar, the slight differences means to have to adapt or adjust the posing for each woman and her specific body type.  You would also find, in most cases the woman with that appears thinner with a larger bust-line would probably more confident in her posing (feminist comb down, I am not saying that a woman with a small bust-line can’t be confident, but typically thin and busty get attention and most of the time attention gains confidence.)

First of all you must practice posing all types of people.  Ask people to come in for sample session who are over weight, short or as “un-modelish” and everyday as you can find.  You can’t become better at posing everyday client by practicing on super models and cheerleaders.  Look for as many different body types as you can find to practice on and don’t just practice on woman, ask men too.  I don’t know why so many male photographers have such a bias toward woman (ok, now that I said that I do realize why….but professionally speaking they shouldn’t…a man’s money is just as green as a woman’s!)

As you pose people, look at them and ask yourself two things. First, “if I were this person, what would I not want showing in the final portrait?”  Double chins, less than flat tummy, thick face, thinning hair, big nose or ears.  Those become the areas that your poses have to hide.  The second question, “what are the best features of the person?”  Beautiful eyes, flowing hair, large bust-line, long legs, cute feet…MEN strong jaw line, eyes, etc. etc.  I then look to the clothing the client bring in as a guide to what he or she likes about themselves.  With woman, this is easy.  If a woman comes in with nothing but black pants and flat shoes, she is screaming out, “close please” or “hide me behind everyone”.  If a woman bring in short dresses and high heels, they feel their legs are important, low-cut tops often indicate a woman feels her cleavage might be her best asset (which is happening more and more as woman are getting larger!)   LEARN HOW TO EFFECTIVELY POSE EVERY CLIENT IN MY NEW DVD Jeff Smith’s GUIDE TO POSING. ORDER NOW! 

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~ by jeffsmithbooks on December 14, 2010.

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