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Taking pictures of people can be hugely rewarding however whether you’re working with amateurs or pros, getting the poses just right can be tricky. Creating photos with natural looking but powerful and eye catching poses is one of the hardest aspects of portrait and fashion photography.
Be Friendly and Make Your Model Feel Comfortable.
One of the most important secrets to know when it comes to working with models or subjects is to make them feel as comfortable as you can! When people feel nervous their body will be stiff and it will definitely show through in the photos! Before you start a photoshoot always take a few minutes to talk with the model or client – especially if they are inexperienced.
Overcome Your Shyness and Take the Lead in the Photoshoot.
If you’re a little shy, it can be difficult to tell, or direct, your model how to pose but to avoid those awkward moments it’s best that you take the lead. In most situations, a model or amateur that you’re working with will actually want some direction. They will trust your creative vision and skills and will appreciate you giving them some direction!
When you direct them they will also feel more comfortable and be able to pose more naturally rather than wondering how they should be positioning themselves. However, don’t forget to ask the model or client if they have any favorite poses and if they do then you can start with that.
What Are The Different Types of Poses?
When models, male or female, first step in front of the camera, if they do strike a pose they are quite likely to put their hand on the hip and look straight at the camera! You need to step in, take control of the situation and guide them through the shoot.
Creating A Collection Of Reference Poses.
One of the most useful things you can put together in advance and bring to a photo shoot when you’re working with a model or client is a stack of pages that you’ve taken from a fashion magazine. Scan through the magazines and tear out a whole series of models posing in a variety of positions – if it’s the first time you’ve done this you’ll quickly notice that there’s actually a fairly limited number of ways that people pose!
Using your selection of models in different poses you can easily show your subject a selection which would be appropriate for your photo shoot. This will instantly put them at ease and make it more natural for them to strike a few good poses without the complications of you having to stop and keep explaining them during the photo shoot!
Start with Simple Poses and Be Patient.
Never rush into a rapid stream of instructions and directions with your subject, especially if they are inexperienced. Start the photoshoot slowly, with simple poses that they feel relaxed with and then slowly work towards more stage shots. Always be patient and even if you think your early pictures are looking a little boring stick with it and see where the photoshoot takes you.
Basic portraits are a good way to get started and then maybe build up to some walking shots. This will give your subject time to get used to being in front of the camera and give you an idea as to what comes naturally to them.
Top Poses For Photoshoots.
- Profile Pose: This is one of the most universal poses that you can ask a model to do. They simply turn their head towards the side and slightly lift their chin. This gives their face a great profile that helps to bring out their features. To add more drama to the pose, a female model can also put her hand on her neck to create a stylish high fashion look.
- Movement Poses: To add more life to your photos you can ask your model to move around. This can include walking around the studio, jumping in the air or even running! When a model is moving around their limbs will look natural and although you’ll need to use a fast shutter speed to capture sharp shots the results can really work out well. Moving or walking around can be used effectively with inexperienced or nervous models to help them get used to being in front of the camera.
- Crossing Ankles or Legs: Drawing on the world of classical art, crossed ankles or legs can help to elongate the model’s legs and give the impression of narrowing their hips. This works particularly well for women although when men stand in this way it makes them look confident, relaxed and in control. Crossing ankles can also be used when the model is sitting down! To create a casual portrait the model can cross their legs while standing and lean against a wall. Usually it will look better if they lean against a wall or other object using their arm or elbow instead of their back.
- Seated Poses: There’s a wide range of ways that a model can pose while sitting down. You can ask them to sit in a relaxed pose, leaning against the armrest of a chair for example, or you can ask them to sit forward to look more intense and business-like. Seated poses can emanate anything from calmness to power, strength to attentive sensitivity. The model can also sit at 45 degrees to the camera and put their front arm on their knee to create a well balanced posture that appears to narrow their body.
- Placing the Chin in the Hand: If your model is seated at a table or sitting on a chair they can place their chin in their hand. This creates a thoughtful pose that can really help to draw the viewer into the features of their face – particularly their eyes. You can make the photo look more wistful by working the angles or solemn with a close up shot.
- Laying Down Poses: This can be used inside but it works very well in outdoor settings as well – such as beaches or parks. If you’re using this shot ask the model to reposition their head and hands for each shot so you get a good variety to select from. You can take shots from different perspectives too – for instance, shots from ground level bring an intimacy to the photo that resembles a home photo album while shots from above are less personal and more common in magazine photoshoots.
- Looking over the Shoulder Poses: When the model looks over her shoulder it can enhance their features and beauty. This is a classical pose that is used in Renaissance art and sculptures and gives the photo a warm and mysterious atmosphere. You can use the model’s hair to further emphasize particular features such as their shoulders or neck.
Keep It Natural.
Photographs almost always come across better if the subject looks natural – even if they are consciously posing for the shot. That said, you don’t want your subject to slouch in their pictures. When they keep their back straight it not only projects confidence but it also flatters their figure and is more photogenic. If you ask them to angle their body towards the camera it also adds depth to their poses and can give a more sophisticated feel to the photos.
Poses Work Universally in Photography – Even with Pets.
Now it may seem that it’s natural for humans to pose in photographs but what about animals and pets? There’s an old saying that if you work in live TV you should never work with animals because they are unpredictable and can ruin a scene! We’ve all seen TV bloopers where the animals run amok but the same certainly applies for photoshoots.
If you’re taking photos of a pet, a dog example, and the dog keeps moving, wagging its tail and jumping up at you then you’re likely to end up with a series of blurred shots that can’t be used.
When working with pets it’s just as important to pose the animal as it is when you are working with humans but unless the pet is extremely well trained it’s going to be tricky to get them to do what you want.
Nonetheless, there are a few things that you can do, particularly with dogs, to help the process along and increase your chances of getting a good series of photos out of the shoot.
- Work with the Pet’s Owner: If you’re taking photos of a pet that is not yours then you need to work closely with the owner to help create the best results in your photography. See if they can help you pose the pet or if the pet has a favorite trick that it can do on command. This will take the stress off your shoulders and make the photoshoot run more smoothly.
- Use Treats: All pets like treats so make the most of this to maneuver them into place. Dogs are usually the easiest to work with but pet parrots and even cats will respond to a treat. Use the treat to get them into position and then take the photos.
- Shoot Fast: When you’re taking photos of pets you’ll never quite know when they are going to move next. We’ve all experienced the frustration of lining up the perfect shot, checked the settings on the camera and then just before you click the photo the pet turns and looks away! Take multiple photos quickly and then sort through them later to cut out the ones which missed the mark.
- Be Patient and Work with The Pet’s Personality: Just like humans, every animal has its own personality and it may take some time for it to get comfortable with you. Before you take out your camera and start shooting photos allow the pet to become relaxed in your presence and even sniff the camera so they aren’t afraid of it. A lot of animals can get worried if you are staring or looking at them continuously so helping them to build confidence in you before you start shooting photos can make all the difference!
- Take Photos From Angles: It’s easy to take a whole series of pictures of pets while standing on your feet but you can often get the most endearing and impactful shots if you get down on the floor and shoot upwards. Other angles work well too but just be aware that you need to move around to get the best photos.
- Taking Movement Shots: It depends on what type of animal you’re photographing but when working with dogs you can take some of the best photographs when they are playing, chasing a ball or running in the park! This will leave you with photos that are dynamic and full of life. You’ll need to use a fast shutter speed and be flexible since their behavior might be somewhat unpredictable!
The Right Pose Can Make or Break A Photo.
Whether you’re working with humans or pets making good use of poses is a critical factor in producing consistently high quality photos. As a photographer you should take control of the situation and trust your own artistic vision to create stunning results. Models and clients will be more than willing to trust your skills and when working with animals you’ll have to explain to the owners that you know what you’re doing!
With a little practice and some confidence in your own abilities you can use poses to give your photography that extra edge which will make them look professional, well composed and refined.
What are some of your favorite poses as a photographer?