Posting for Portraits

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Fire, Feb 6, 2018.

  1. Fire

    Fire TPF Noob!

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    Hi! I'm a longtime lurker, short-time poster, and the guy with the lit name. I was wondering for some help. I tried searching a little bit for things like "portrait posing" or "posing for a photo tips" and nothing really resulted to my taste.

    I'm interested in learning to get better at portrait photos and have a pretty nice D7500 with some good glass. I can take a pretty good photo of somebody, but people tend to be awkward because I don't really pose them (mostly my girlfriend, and close friends).

    I was curious for your tips on posing people for portraits, if you had any expertise, or links, or both! I'm learning to experiment and want to have some more fun. Additionally, if you had any of the things above but for closer head-shots for professionals. I want to learn better to shoot people, with my camera :)

    hey, i just want to say thank you in advance for taking your time to read this, and even to reply if you do. best feelings,
    fire.


     
  2. Vtec44

    Vtec44 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Posing has a lot with the message you're trying to convey to the viewers of your photograph. Once you have defined that message, then everything within your photograph would be to help deliver that message. It has a lot to do with non-verbal communication cues including but not limited to body language, lines, proximity (if there are more than 1 person in your photo), and facial expression. For the most part, I would start with a basic pose, the micro adjust little by little. With each adjustment, I would vary the angles, distance, and level to create varieties. Each gender requires you to pay attention to different things. For example, females would require you to pay attention to hair, smile (may create create necessary facial wrinkles), neck (double chin), waist, arm, shoulders (posture), legs (lines), etc.

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
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  3. idcanyon

    idcanyon No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    There are many different posing styles so you'll have to figure out what you're interested in. If you're shooting your girlfriend then perhaps glamour?
    Here are a bunch of courses on Creative Live:
    Photography Poses - Tips and Techniques | CreativeLive
    Lindsey Adler is a pretty good teacher most of the time. Also look for classes by Peter Hurley and Scott Robert Lim, which somehow didn't show up in this group.
    Creative Live will air these occasionally for free if you just check in regularly to see what's playing.
     
  4. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Get some example photos, and ask your subjects to mimic the pose you show them.

    If you want to get it closer, show your model her/his pose, and compare it to the printed version. They will see their mistakes and you can try again.
     
  5. TCampbell

    TCampbell Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I'll give you the advice my old boss gave me when I was a photography apprentice (and this goes back a couple of years). It was one of the best pieces of advice I ever learned:

    When you look through photos (online, in magazines, etc.) you'll find that most of the time you just skim through them. From time to time you'll come across a photo that makes you stop and linger on it for a bit. This is usually called "stopping power". THAT is an image that caught your attention (the rest were just "ok").

    STUDY THAT IMAGE! Study everything about how they were posed.
    Try to figure out where every light must have been located.
    Look at their body positions... in detail (which leg has their weight... which leg is relaxed? Same for arms. Where is their head and how is it angled relative to their shoulders? How are their hips and overall torso positioned? How are the shadows? Where are their eyes looking?

    I could go on and on... but hopefully you get the idea.


    Posing also isn't a "one size fits all". There are poses that tend to look for feminine vs. masculine (as well as exceptions). But even then... there are deferents based on physical traits. Based on the physical characteristics of the subject, there are techniques to select poses or alter the lighting to suit that particular subject.

    For example... if someone has a large nose and you position their face so that the profile of their nose extends beyond the profile of the rest of their face (in other words imagine the photo is converted to a silhouette -- you wouldn't want to see their nose in the silhouette) ... otherwise their nose will look especially large. That's just one example.

    You'll probably also want to make sure you have a fairly decent understanding of lighting (use of off-camera lighting, lighting modifiers, etc.). There are techniques for lighting which also vary based on physical traits (how you might light a "round" face vs. a "narrow" face, etc.)

    All of this assumes "posed" subjects.

    At this point in my life I had worked for the studio for years (I started as an apprentice (mostly carrying gear, reloading film magazines, etc.) at the age of 15. At this point I think I'm probably around 25. I had done hundreds of weddings and I had taken loads of posed photos... and then one day I met Alfred Eisenstaedt at an exhibit of his work (see: Alfred Eisenstaedt - Wikipedia ) and was asked to get some photos of him with some of the people at the event. So I did what I always do... and was immediately scolded by Mr. Eisenstaedt ... who was STRONGLY opposed to "posed" photographs. He was happy to have me take his photo with others... but was against being "posted" for them. He wanted me to capture life as it happened. I suspect his gentle scolding was his way of giving me some advice on how to capture better images.

    Another famous photographer, Arthur "Weegee" Fellig (see: Weegee - Wikipedia ) had a quote referring to advice on how to capture good photos that is often still used today... "f/8 and be there". I'll skip the "f/8" part and just talk about "be there".

    "Be there" is usually accepted as referring to the energy of the event. What's the mood? What's INTERESTING? Identify that mood... and capture it. It doesn't matter if the mood is somber or exciting. Often the act of "posing" people will destroy the mood (or certainly at least fail to capture the mood). From time to time you'll encounter people who mistakenly think that "be there" means you just have to show up.

    So there's a few things to think about as you develop your style. Certainly learn posing... just keep in mind that compelling photographs often don't just capture an image of the person... they capture the energy along with it.
     
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  6. lance70

    lance70 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Tell them to stand there and look good....done :1219:
     
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  7. dunfly

    dunfly No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm not a portrait photographer, so I can't help you, however, it did watch a video of Hanson Fong who does a great job of going through lighting and posing for portraits. There are two I know of on B & H Explora. This is one of them:

    I think the other one is called "good enough is not good enough" You can google his name and get others. The videos are entertaining and full of good information.
     
  8. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Candid portraits are a completely valid genre, and should be explored in depth as you have the time and energy to grow your experience.

    So you can think of portraiture as having "styles", such as; "formal", "informal", "candid", and probably some others as well.

    Your executives who are wanting headshots for a professional publication are not looking for informal or candid, and when you intend to shoot someone informally, you don't need/want them to pose formally.

    Select the style of posing carefully for the intended purpose.
     
  9. ac12

    ac12 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Once you find info, the most important thing is to PRACTICE.
    Like many things, the more you practice, the easier it gets, and the more confidence you will have.
    • Read books (there are MANY), watch videos, etc.
    • Take classes, were the teacher will give you feedback, suggestions and specific instructions. This real time feedback is important to correcting mistakes and learning. You can't get feedback from reading a book or watching a video.
    • If you are not an extrovert, posing people can be very difficult. So you need to work at it.
    • You have to communicate with the subject. You can't hide behind the camera.
    • You have to direct the subject. And to do this, you need to know exactly what you want them to do, and you have to tell them what to d0. Novice subjects will need more direction than experienced models.
    • Sometimes you need to actually do the pose for them, so that they can see what you mean. So you can't be shy.
    • With kids, you may have to be animated to get their attention.
    • etc.
    I would start and make a binder of portrait photos; from magazines, on line, etc.
    • These would be the poses that YOU want to duplicate, get close to, or just to have as reference or inspiration.
    • And as Tim said STUDY the pix; the pose, the lighting, the environmental surroundings, the props, etc.
    • And make lots of notes of what you study, example a lighting diagram, type of clothes, make up, environment, props, if seated what are they seated on, etc.
    This would also be what you show the subject, as a target pose that you want. As it is much easier for most people to understand what to do from a picture, than from only verbal description/instructions.

    There are books of sample poses, that can get you started.
    Some of these are simply pictures of poses without any info, so purely for the pose.


    You will need stuff/props, be creative.
    • Look at pictures (in books, online and your binder), then walk around your house to see what you can substitute.
    • A plain stool or chair can be used in place of an adjustable posing stool.
    • What can you do for a background? Walk around your house and look.
    • BTW, I think most living room furniture is bad for portrature. This is because you SINK into them, rather than sit ON them. So the body posture does not look good.

    As Tim said, an important part of portrature is knowing and controlling lighting.
    Good lighting will help a portrait, bad lighting can kill it.

    I find it is easier to learn with constant light or a strobe with a modeling light. A shoe flash/speed light has no way for you to see what the lighting and shadows will look like, till AFTER you shoot. This makes learning more difficult, as you have to visualize the image in your head rather than actually see it. And for a beginner, that can be difficult.
    I recommend you to use LED lights/bulbs. The old tungsten lights were called "hot lights" for a reason, they got hot for the photog to handle and for the subject to be under.

    Sun light through a window is great and free. This was the lighting for the old master painters. But the sun moves, so the lighting changes over the course of the day, from morning to noon to afternoon. And the weather can change from day to day. One photog that I know, shoots at a specific time, for only an hour, because the lighting in that room is what she wants at that specific time.

    gud luk
     
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  10. chuasam

    chuasam Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    there are a few rules to posing.
    mostly angles and how to move the body.
    you can get all that right and still have a rubbish photo.
    learn to feel the image.
     
  11. RayDalio

    RayDalio TPF Noob!

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    Mise-en-scene.
    My biggest bugbear with fashion photography is when someone's doing something that makes no sense. And it's so easy to do when you're focusing on technique/aesthetics/lighting/showing off...
    "Why is that model sensually draping herself over that Ikea desk? Is this what she gets up to when she's alone in her flat? Is she just REALLY pleased with her purchase?"
    That's not to say you want to go too far the other way. A fashion photo of someone doing the dishes might beg the question "Why is she so underdressed? Why the Renaissance lighting?"
     
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  12. SoulfulRecover

    SoulfulRecover Been spending a lot of time on here!

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