Posing for portrait photography

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  1. 1. F O R D I G I TA L A N D F I L M P H OTO G R A P H E R SPOSING for PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY a head-to-toeguideJEFF SMITH Amherst Media P U B L I S H E R O F P H OTO G R A P H Y B O O K S
  2. 2. Copyright 2004 by Jeff Smith.All rights reserved.Published by:Amherst Media, Inc.P.O. Box 586Buffalo, N.Y. 14226Fax: 716-874-4508www.AmherstMedia.comPublisher: Craig AlesseSenior Editor/Production Manager: Michelle PerkinsAssistant Editor: Barbara A. Lynch-JohntISBN: 1-58428-134-9Library of Congress Card Catalog Number: 2003112490Printed in Korea.10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,mechanical, photocopied, recorded or otherwise, without prior written consent from the publisher.Notice of Disclaimer: The information contained in this book is based on the authors experience and opinions.The author and publisher will not be held liable for the use or misuse of the information in this book.
  3. 3. TABLE OF CONTENTSINTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6Salable Posing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6Obstacles to Salable Posing . . . . . . . . . . . .6The Client Knows Best . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10Learning Posing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11Show, Dont Tell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12Update Your Pose Book . . . . . . . . . . . . .12About This Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .131. SIX THINGSYOU SHOULD NEVER DO . . . . . . . . . . . . .15Number One: The Angle of the Face . . . . . .16Number Two: The Shoulders,Waist, and Hips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17Number Three: The Arms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18Number Four: Lower the Chin,Lose the Catchlights . . . . . . . . . . . . .18Number Five: The Spine and Shoulders . . . .19Number Six: Your Expression . . . . . . . . . . . .20An Additional Factor:The Tilt of the Head . . . . . . . . . . . . .222. DEFINING THE POSETypes of Poses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 Traditional Posing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 Settings, Clothing, and Posing . . . . . . . . . . .29 Casual Posing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25Settings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30 Journalistic Posing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27Taking Your Cue from Clothing . . . . . . .33 Glamorous Posing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27 Capturing the Real Person . . . . . . . . . . . .34 TABLE OF CONTENTS 3
  4. 4. 4. POSING THE SHOULDERS,ARMS, AND HANDS . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51 Triangular Composition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52 The Shoulders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56 Arms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57Long Sleeves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57Dont Rely on Digital Fixes . . . . . . . . . . .57Explaining Problems with Tact . . . . . . . .59Posing the Arms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60Using the Arms to Conceal Problems . . .61Observe the Details . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61 The Hands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63Bend Every Joint? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63Give Them Something to Hold . . . . . . . .64 Before Moving On tothe Full-Length Poses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65 5. THE BUSTLINE ANDTHE WAISTLINE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .68 Enhance or Conceal? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .68Lighting and Posing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .70 The Waistline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .71Angle to the Camera . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .71Seated Subjects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .713. POSING THE FACE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35 The Emotional Factors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .72The Connection to Lighting . . . . . . . . . . . . .35Technical Skills vs. People Skills . . . . . . . .72Light from Below . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35Interpreting Emotions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .74Consistency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36 Lasting Value . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .76Hardness or Softness of the Source . . . . .36The Eyes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38 6. HIPS AND THIGHS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .78Catchlights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38Avoiding Full-Length Poses . . . . . . . . . . . . .78Position of the Eyes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41 Slimming the Hips and Thighs . . . . . . . . . . .79Eye Contact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43Standing Poses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .79Reflective Poses and Profiles . . . . . . . . . . . . .46Seated Poses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80Eyes Follow the Nose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 Look for Obstructions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .82One Eye or Two . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 In the Studio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .82Lighting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 Outdoors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .83The Tilt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 Groups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .84The Traditional Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46Purpose of the Portrait . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .85The Real Rule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47Unusual Poses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87Hair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 Our Changing Bodies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .88Guys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48The Neck . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .494POSING FOR PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY
  5. 5. 7. THE FEET AND LEGS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .89 Legs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .94Feet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .89Ankles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .94 Bare Feet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .90Muscle Tone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .94 Minimizing the Apparent Size . . . . . . . . .90 Color and Nylons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95 Posing the Toes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .91Getting New Ideas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .96 Shoe Selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .91 Leg Length . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .96Posing Techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .97The Deadly Sins of Leg Posing . . . . . .99 8. BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER . . . . . .101 Pose Every Image asa Full-Length Portrait . . . . . . . . . . .101 Analyze the Lines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .101 Take Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .103 9. POSING MULTIPLE CLIENTS . . . . . . . .109 Proximity and Composition . . . . . . . . . . . .109 Head Placement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .110 Start with the Core . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .111 Your Best Work for Every Client . . . . . . . . .111 10. VARIATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .114 Practicing with Variations . . . . . . . . . . . . . .114 Demonstrating Variations . . . . . . . . . . . . . .119 Keep Poses in Your Mind . . . . . . . . . . . . . .119 Helping Your Client Relax . . . . . . . . . . . . .120 IN CLOSING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .121 ABOUT THE AUTHOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .122 INDEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .123 POSING FOR PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY5
  6. 6. INTRODUCTIONT he human form. It can be shaped and proportioned to beone of the most beautiful subjects on earth. At the sametime, the body can be arranged in a such way that it makes even themost attractive person look disfigured. Further complicating this arrangement of the human form areall the different shapes and sizes of people that we, as professionalphotographers, must work with. It is one thing to make a perfect What is it that makes onemodel look good during a test session or seminarbut use the sameposes on a good portion of our average customer base, and you will arrangement of body partsend up with an unsaleable portrait. look so graceful, while another So, what is it that makes one arrangement of body parts look sograceful, while another arrangement looks so awkward? That is the arrangement looks so awkward?subject of this book. But before we look at the mechanics of posing,there are a few other things to keep in mind if we hope to success-fully work with our clients and sell our images. These are detailedbelow.Salable PosingSalable posing is much different than artistic posing. Show a largerwoman of today a portrait of a larger woman painted by one the oldmasters and she will say that it is art. Take a portrait of that samewoman of today in the exact same pose, and she will say she lookslike the Pillsbury Dough Boy. As you can see from this example, cre-ating a salable pose is a complicated issue. Obstacles to Salable Posing. The first thing to understand isthat you must select a pose based on the needs and tastes of the indi-6POSING FOR PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY
  7. 7. In traditional posing, women were supposedto look passive. That just doesnt suit thewomen of today.vidual client. This is completely the opposite of the way all of us The greatest hurdle photogra-learn photography. We are taught that every detail of every portraitwe take should be selected to fit our taste and designed for our own phers must make is getting overpurposes. The greatest hurdle photographers must make is gettingover the photographers know best way of thinking. Most photog-the photographers know best raphers like to think of themselves as artists, free spirits who get tocreate little works of artbut someone else has to live with that way of thinking. art. And in the end, the client and their money will determine ifit is art or not! The truth is that art is in the eye of the buyer, notthe creator. Tradition is another old friend