Keep in mind that you need to talk to your
subjects, in advance, to make clothing suggestions. They will appreciate this,
believe me! You can see what we tell our clients by going to: What to Wear
The suggestions below are only guidelines,
not hard-and-fast rules, to be considered when you want a more formally posed
portrait. Don't get too caught up on every suggestion. Try to implement one or
two with each portrait session. Above all, have fun and allow your subjects to
enjoy this time with you.
1) NEVER have your subjects standing or sitting
directly towards the camera. This will add extra pounds and look like a
snapshot, not a portrait. Instead, have your subjects turn towards the camera,
preferably at an angle of 45 degrees. When standing, have them put one foot back and
one foot slightly forward. Have the ladies put all of their weight on the back
leg. The foot closest to the photographer can point towards the camera. Ladies
will look more elegant by lifting that heel off the ground. That will cause the
knee to bend slightly. If you have a subject who is sitting, start by putting
the chair at a slight angle to the camera. Have your subject sit only at the
very front of the chair. Photographers have a clever way of shifting a person's
position. Put a cushion under the buttocks closest to the camera. Arm-chairs
make good posing props because they allow the subject to lean, thus shifting the
body even more. But whether standing or sitting, posture is still important.
Just give a quick reminder before you click the shutter....no slouching.
2) Masculine and Feminine head tilts: This
is a very old concept that stlll has validity. It is suggested that men only
tilt their heads towards their lower shoulder. This is the masculine position.
Tipping your subject's head towards their higher shoulder makes the subject look
more feminine. Women can lean their heads in either direction.
3) Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes: If it
bends, bend it! (Never mind about the toes) Bend the knees slightly, bend
the elbows, bend the wrists. Tip the head, shift the shoulders. And do it in a
way that looks different on each side of the body. Try different things. If you
think it looks unflattering or silly, just change the pose.
4) Fingers, Arms and Hands: This is where
you will really shine. First, the fingers...normally we spread our fingers
apart. This may be comfortable, but when viewing the photo, fingers spread that
way can look like claws. Have the fingers closer together. The posing of hands
can be a problem. You want the subject to look relaxed. Try placing their hands
on their hips, partially draping them in pockets, or even having their arms
crossed. You should try to have the hands at different levels. This puts the
elbows at different levels. The greater the difference between one side of the
body to the other, the less stiff your subject will appear. Look for natural
posing props such as trees, fences, staircases, furniture, etc. You can make
your subjects look thinner by not allowing them to have their arms just dangling
down and touching their body (aka hips). If you have them standing/sitting
correctly, just gently move the elbows out so you can see background in between
the arms and the body.
5) Chins. Some of us have several, and we
just don't like to look at them in a photo. One internationally known
photographer calls out "Chicken Neck" before taking photos. This reminds
everyone to sit/stand tall, elongating the neck and to "push" their chins out
6) Camera Angle: Try different angles.
Keep in mind that we have a delete button for a reason. Don't show the images
until you have had a good look at them. Show only the strongest portaits. It is
far better that your subjects see a dozen exceptional images than 30 mediocre
7) Group Shots: Have the heads at
different heights. A very pleasing portrait is made when you pose a large group
in a triangle shape. Don't have anyone just standing square to the camera with
their arms hanging down. Each person should be in a pose that looks good by
itself. After you take the more formal shots, try fun things like having
everyone put their heads as close together as possible. Focus as tightly as
possible on the smiling faces. Often, these are the images that everyone will
want, so do a variety.
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