Posing techniques is a tricky area to address with generalities because what works for one person can produce horrible outcomes for others. Whenever you see books, workshops, or seminars that promise you better results from your portrait sessions, my recommendation is to run away, and quickly. Primarily, the reason why these endeavors often fail is because the photographers writing the material or presenting the classes are using the time to build out their own portfolios, and getting the students to foot the bill for things like model expenses, make-up artists fees, and In exchange they claim that you are getting the experience of watching them work in action, learning what they do. In reality though, learning portraiture comes more from hands on than anything else. You have to be able to see what traits or features work for one person and what doesn’t for another person by applying different techniques or lighting effects.
On the other hand, if a book or workshop promises or promotes the idea that you are going to learn techniques and styles, then this is a different bag and can likely be a good place to cut your teeth. To that end, this week I will devote some time to identify three basic techniques for posing and lighting your subjects. More articles and pieces may be forthcoming on this subject if the responses are encouraging, but time will tell. For now, let’s just jump right in and focus on the first of three tips for the week
Turn the Shoulders
While it may sound cheesy, there is a reason why we do these portraits repeatedly…first off, it presents a narrower view of your subject. With less of the subject facing forward, the result is that they look skinnier. Secondly, by turning the body to the side, and having your subject turn their head toward you, the neckline smooths out, and often, that dreaded “double-chin” can be eliminated. Finally, by turning the head, the lines usually will lead the viewer to the visual cues we moisten often are drawn to – the eyes! Give it a try in your next portrait session…