Posing for interest and impact is the next step in the evolution of posing.  The first step is to learn poses that make your client look their best.  The second step is to learn how to modify the poses for your individual client’s body type and comfort.  The third step is to learn how to correct the flaws that all paying clients have.  The fourth step is how to pose a person to work within the cropping and composition.  Now you will learn how to pose for impact and interest. 

Posing for impact and interest is really the opposite of traditional posing.  In traditional posing you are making the client look their best while having them in a natural looking pose.  This creates a traditional portrait that you really don’t notice the posing of, because it appears natural as though the client were just sitting there when you pulled out your camera.  Posing for impact and interest is posing that actually draws attention to the posing style.

Posing for interest and impact uses same principles as lighting.  In the majority of portraits, you light the portrait naturally for a traditional portrait look.  The viewer really doesn’t notice the light because it looks natural.  However when you change the classic, more natural lighting to a spot light for a more theatrical look, you now focus more attention on the lighting style itself.

 The same true as you look at posing.  There is posing that is natural and that doesn’t draw attention to itself and posing that enhances the overall appeal of the portrait by drawing attention to itself.  When posing the human body there are shapes, lines and forms that create feelings in the viewer. We have all heard the classic “s” curve when posing/photographing a woman.  The curves, which offend form “s” shapes, of the body naturally, captivate a viewer’s attention.  By accentuating these curves the attention of the viewer is enhanced, the pose has created more interest and added more impact to the portrait.

Simply put curved lines or forms are seen as feminine, sensual and soft, alluring for men and captivating to all that view it.  The same rules of lines and forms apply to posing as in composition.  You see a winding path in the composition of an outdoor portrait and you immediately visualize a beautiful woman walking down it (ok, maybe that is just me, but it is definitely feminine!)  She see soft rolling hills, you envision a beautiful bride a sunset.  Curves, soft flowing lines visually represent femininity.  

Straight lines represent strength, power and are seen as masculine.  You see large squared off columns in a background; they look masculine, where rounded columns look more feminine.  Poses that are structured with straighter lines are seen to have strength and covey power.  This doesn’t mean you can only use these principles on woman and men respectively.  A structured pose of a woman can convey a strength, which in today’s world is sexy in it own way.  A curved pose can soften the look of a larger, tougher looking dad when being posed with his daughter or new born child.

These rules are to be learned and practiced, but ultimately how they are used will depend on the creative decisions you and your client make.  As we start looking at adding impact and interest to a portrait through posing, we take these basic rules and use them to bring more interest and impact to the portrait.



~ by jeffsmithbooks on July 2, 2011.


  1. And another great post! I’m learning so much. Can’t wait to put these techniques into practice. I know I have only begun to scratch the surface of posing, lighting, and composition, but with your posts, books, and DVD’s, I’ve been so enlightened, even after having studied all these disciplines in their own right. With your help, in time I feel I should be able to take it to a whole new level…. just flat out cool stuff. Can’t wait for your new book.

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