Whether you are working with a couple or a group of twenty people the same rules apply.  Unlike lighting where you have to adjust your strategies for the larger the group, posing use the same principles of posing each part of the body to make each person look their best, then pose each person to look good as a part of the entire group.

The biggest challenge of posing a group is the coordination between each person in posing and in clothing.  Clothing styles and colors have to coordinate to not draw attention to the clothing itself.  It looks odd to have everyone in jeans except one family member that decides to the come in a suit. If everyone is in white shirts and one person show in black, it draws the attention to the black shirt.  When clients don’t follow clothing suggestions (like the two boys in this family) you have to use the actual posing to hide or minimize the style difference.  In this pose the ladies high heels made the clothing look much more elegant than the boys jeans so the high heels didn’t show.  The young man with the nicer jeans and shoes was brought forward, with his brother is baggier jeans and boots was hide behind sister.

When posing a couple or group you want to have the same style of posing for each person.  You shouldn’t have everyone in traditional posing with one person in a more fashionable pose, unless you intend to draw attention to that person.  Spacing is another important consideration.  If any member of a group is posed farther from every other member of the group than everyone else, they look like the black-sheep.

I typically start planning a group (over two people)  with the person of most importance.  Now these are generalization and not meant to offend anyone (it is kind sad we are so sensitive in this country I always have to put that disclaimer in an educational book so someone, somewhere won’t take offense!)  I don’t care about your personal lifestyle choices or opinions; these are the opinions of the majority of paying clients and since they paying you to create what they want, you views simply don’t matter. 

Now that we have covered that, back to the person of most importance.  The person of most importance could be a new born baby, or a grandmother, a mother or father, a husband or wife.  You determine the person of most importance by the reason the client has hired you.  If they are hiring you to take a small family group because of new born baby, the baby is the most important person in the portrait.  If a grandmother is having a 90 birthday, she is the most important person in the portrait. Mothers Day, Father’s day obviously are self explanatory.

In an average American home, with mom, dad, and 2.2 children, the father is given the predominate position out of respect and tradition.  Don’t like it, don’t care, it is what an overwhelming number of you clients will want and expect.

I look at that predominate person and decide how is the best way to give them the position in the center of my frame and pose all the other people around them.  If there is no predominate person (4 sisters for example, each one be equal to the others) I chose a non-centered, more linear posing so that no one is in the center, becoming the focal point. (More about that later).

Considering the predominate person,  I look at the best way for that person to be posed.  If baby is a newborn and you have a raised, secure posing surface that would give you the most posing options around the baby.  If grandmother is 90, the ground is out of the question (people don’t look comfortable in places they can’t normally go and no one at any age feels confident being hoisted down and up from a pose.  And at that age standing for prolonged periods of time isn’t an option either, so I typically bring in a chair or stool depending on whether I want to add a another element to the scene or keep it without props or posing aids.

Once the predominate person is posed, I then start building the grouping around that person, making sure to keep everyone at a similar spacing, while keeping each person at different level or heights to create interest and direct the viewer’s eye throughout the frame.


~ by jeffsmithbooks on July 13, 2011.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: