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  • POSING PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY

    a head-to-toe guide

    JEFF SMITH Amherst Media® PUBLISHER OF PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS

    POSING for PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY

    F O R D I G I T A L A N D F I L M P H O T O G R A P H E R S

  • Copyright © 2004 by Jeff Smith. All rights reserved.

    Published by: Amherst Media, Inc. P.O. Box 586 Buffalo, N.Y. 14226 Fax: 716-874-4508 www.AmherstMedia.com

    Publisher: Craig Alesse Senior Editor/Production Manager: Michelle Perkins Assistant Editor: Barbara A. Lynch-Johnt

    ISBN: 1-58428-134-9 Library of Congress Card Catalog Number: 2003112490

    Printed in Korea. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

    No 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 author’s experience and opinions. The author and publisher will not be held liable for the use or misuse of the information in this book.

  • INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Salable Posing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

    Obstacles to Salable Posing . . . . . . . . . . . .6 The Client Knows Best . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10

    Learning Posing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Show, Don’t Tell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Update Your Pose Book . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

    About This Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13

    1. SIX THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER DO . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Number One: The Angle of the Face . . . . . .16 Number Two: The Shoulders,

    Waist, and Hips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 Number Three: The Arms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 Number Four: Lower the Chin,

    Lose the Catchlights . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 Number Five: The Spine and Shoulders . . . .19 Number Six: Your Expression . . . . . . . . . . . .20 An Additional Factor:

    The Tilt of the Head . . . . . . . . . . . . .22

    2. DEFINING THE POSE Types of Poses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24

    Traditional Posing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 Casual Posing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 Journalistic Posing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27 Glamorous Posing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27

    Settings, Clothing, and Posing . . . . . . . . . . .29 Settings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30 Taking Your Cue from Clothing . . . . . . .33

    Capturing the “Real” Person . . . . . . . . . . . .34

    TABLE OF CONTENTS 3

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • 3. POSING THE FACE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35 The Connection to Lighting . . . . . . . . . . . . .35

    Light from Below . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35 Consistency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36 Hardness or Softness of the Source . . . . .36

    The Eyes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38 Catchlights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38 Position of the Eyes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41 Eye Contact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43

    Reflective Poses and Profiles . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 Eyes Follow the Nose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 One Eye or Two . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 Lighting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46

    The Tilt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 The Traditional Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 The Real Rule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 Hair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 Guys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48

    The Neck . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49

    4. POSING THE SHOULDERS, ARMS, AND HANDS . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51

    Triangular Composition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52 The Shoulders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56 Arms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57

    Long Sleeves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57 Don’t Rely on Digital Fixes . . . . . . . . . . .57 Explaining Problems with Tact . . . . . . . .59 Posing the Arms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60 Using the Arms to Conceal Problems . . .61 Observe the Details . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61

    The Hands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63 Bend Every Joint? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63 Give Them Something to Hold . . . . . . . .64

    Before Moving On to the Full-Length Poses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65

    5. THE BUSTLINE AND THE WAISTLINE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .68

    Enhance or Conceal? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .68 Lighting and Posing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .70

    The Waistline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .71 Angle to the Camera . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .71 Seated Subjects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .71

    The Emotional Factors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .72 Technical Skills vs. People Skills . . . . . . . .72 Interpreting Emotions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .74 Lasting Value . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .76

    6. HIPS AND THIGHS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .78 Avoiding Full-Length Poses . . . . . . . . . . . . .78 Slimming the Hips and Thighs . . . . . . . . . . .79

    Standing Poses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .79 Seated Poses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80

    Look for Obstructions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .82 In the Studio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .82 Outdoors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .83 Groups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .84

    Purpose of the Portrait . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .85 Unusual Poses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87 Our Changing Bodies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .88

    4 POSING FOR PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY

  • 7. THE FEET AND LEGS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .89 Feet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .89

    Bare Feet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .90 Minimizing the Apparent Size . . . . . . . . .90 Posing the Toes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .91 Shoe Selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .91

    Legs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .94 Ankles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .94 Muscle Tone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .94 Color and Nylons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95 Getting New Ideas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .96 Leg Length . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .96 Posing Techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .97 The “Deadly Sins” of Leg Posing . . . . . .99

    8. BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER . . . . . .101 Pose Every Image as

    a 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 PHOTOGRAPHY 5

  • T he human form. It can be shaped and proportioned to be one of the most beautiful subjects on earth. At the same

    time, the body can be arranged in a such way that it makes even the most attractive person look disfigured.

    Further complicating this arrangement of the human form are all the different shapes and sizes of people that we, as professional photographers, must work with. It is one thing to make a perfect model look good during a test session or seminar—but use the same poses on a good portion of our average customer base, and you will end up with an unsaleable portrait.

    So, what is it that makes one arrangement of body parts look so graceful, while another arrangement looks so awkward? That is the 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 detailed below.

    Salable Posing Salable posing is much different than artistic posing. Show a larger woman of today a portrait of a larger woman painted by one the old masters and she will say that it is art. Take a portrait of that same woman of today in the exact same pose, and she will say she looks like 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 is that you must select a pose based on the needs and tastes of the indi-

    6 POSING FOR PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY

    INTRODUCTION

    What is it that makes one

    arrangement of body parts

    look so graceful, while another

    arrangement looks so awkward?