Posing can be a big stumper for many photographers new to the business of photographing people. Like so many things I didn’t want to give brain space to figuring out, as a beginner I took pride in being the anti-posing photographer and claimed it was all in the name of being real, spontaneous and fancy-free. Especially when the bulk of my business is spent photographing children, my logic seemed even more solid simply because I couldn’t imagine moulding children into poses. I imagined it would feel like playing with a Gumbie doll, bending their arms and legs and hoping they’d stick there until I got the shot.
But when I started exploring posing, I discovered that it wasn’t all about creating fake personas or even controlling people. Not in the slightest. It was all about making them comfortable with the often nervous process of being photographed and building a foundation on which they could -surprisingly- be exactly who I wanted them to be in the first place…themselves.
Posing made me so much more comfortable with myself as well. It took out the nerve-wracking element of having clients just staring at me, waiting for me to take charge and make magic happen. I never thought that being a photographer would entail more than just capturing the images. I found that I was also responsible for setting up the scene first and this…well this wasn’t something I’d anticipated when I decided to start being a photographer.
The first thing I want to talk about in this series is the definition. What is posing? And more importantly, what isn’t it?
When I googled ‘all about photography posing’, the top result was a link that said “Ever heard of natural photography? It means stop posing in all of your pictures.” To whomever wrote that…I bed to differ. Big time.
Posing isn’t unnatural. I’m posing right now. You’re posing right now. We’re all posing all the time. But sometimes, when we’re caused to be super aware of our bodies, we forget what to do. Ever actually been in front of the camera? It’s really hard! I become excruciatingly aware of every last hair on my body and I want so badly for someone to just tell me what to do! I’ve noticed, for example, that in photos I naturally place one hand on my hip. But what the photographer isn’t telling me is that from their POV, you can’t see my arm because I always sort of push it back, thinking that it looks cute. When actually, it disappears. So based on this description, posing is:
Helping your subject place their body in a position that is suitable for the camera.
Posing isn’t a the dirty word some photographers will make it out to be. Particularly when wanting to break into the genre of lifestyle photography, you might tend to think that posing should be completely thrown out the window. And I agree that when doing sessions that are meant to capture real every day life, posing won’t come into play as much as in, say, a senior session. Or not in the traditional sense of the word, anyway! But overall, I think it’s important to know that posing is:
I mentioned Gumby earlier. Remember him? Those rubbery arms and legs that could be bent everywhichway. Thanks to him, we can get a nasty taste in our mouth when we think of posing. But have you ever considered that maybe, just maybe, posing could be so subtle that your clients won’t even realise you’re doing it? Or that you could get so super flawless at suggesting their next move that YOU won’t even realise you’re doing it? And most importantly in my world…that posing can become an effortless second language which you could be so fluent in that even the most unyielding children won’t notice you speaking it?
Every day this week, there will be a new post all about posing. I’ll cover posing for children, teens and grown ups. I hope you learn something that can give your work a little leg up and if you’re already a posing expert, maybe you can chime in in the comments and share your experiences!