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Posing 101 – Wrap up and Reader Questions

Wow what a week of posing! Thanks to everyone who read. I’ve had some great comments and questions come through, but first, a wrap up of the posts this week:

Now for some questions that came through in the week…

Q. “Sometimes I get parents that have stuff in mind and then I don’t have the voice to come out and say lets do it differently. Does that 50% game work with the older ages too?”

A. Ha ha yeah…the 50/50 game I do with kids (“you do a pose you want and then a pose I want” and then alternate). The time for hatching out their ideas is during the pre-session consultation. Tell them this then. For example, “let’s talk about any ideas you have so that on session day, I can be free to do what I do and already have my shots in mind.” This sets the expectation for them that while you’re working, you need to be left alone. If they don’t get it, you can do what I do from the very beginning…set them a nice chair with a coffee off to the side and ask if they mind you going and working with the child(ren). In their view, of course, but not close enough to interfere. This is something I say during the initial phone call when I explain how a session with me works. I explain that the most authentic images usually happen when the subject doesn’t feel that they’re on stage and since they’re paying money for you, they’ll likely oblige because they don’t want to run the risk of messing up your work.

Q. “What’s really wrong with a little boy standing with his hands on his hips? How is that “girly”? If it is “girly” why in the world does it matter?”

A. This is a touchy subject but I thought that I would bring it up for discussion. It is my experience that every parent I’ve worked with squirms a bit when their boy is seemingly looking a bit ‘girly’ in a feminine pose. So my opinion comes from my years working with children. Obviously, it’s ultimately up to you how you pose your clients. It was said that my comment regarding a boy having his hands on his hips is ‘reinforcing gender stereotypes’. I think if I’d said “don’t allow boys to pose holding irons or brooms” then that would be more along the lines of gender stereotypes. Body language is a whole ‘nuther thing all together. A boy can look sweet, young, delicate or fragile without looking ‘girly’ and a girl can look strong, brave, boisterous without looking like a boy. Both genders hold those qualities and it should be embraced.

Q. “Any chance you can throw something in there about posing larger people, even a family of big-bodied people? It seems to be really uncomfortable and difficult for them to sit/lay on the ground, huddle in close or pick up their children and then their photographs just look awkward so any ideas you have to help would be hugely appreciated!”

A. The first thing to acknowledge is that large people know that they’re large. As with any body type (skinny included) their body image may cause them to believe that their either larger or smaller than they are. You can tastefully discuss their body image with them which is something I may be inclined to do with any body type. Knowing how a client feels about their body is always a great thing to know. As a society we try to find ways to make people look smaller and think that smaller = more attractive, but this doesn’t need to be our primary focus when shooting large people. Now, making them appear comfortable, that’s important. And I agree, laying on the ground is a no-go. Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful:

  • Use a telephoto lens or the longest zoom that you have. This will compress the shot and keep it from suffering from widening distortion. Experiment with the distortion correction in Photoshop to see if there’s any barreling that you don’t notice on first inspection.
  • Don’t shoot from a low angle.
  • Shoot from higher up looking down, but beware of the fact that this is a way overdone tactic for photographing larger people and throw in lots of other types of framing, not just this one.
  • You can use one subject’s body to shield another (if one is lighter than the other)
  • Obviously, you have the option of not photographing their whole body
  • In the post this week on posing families, try the ‘huddle’ and ‘squeeze in’ poses which eliminates full body shots.

Again, thanks so much for reading this week and if you’re new, keep reading!

  • George E. Norkus


    A wonderful group of posing articles I’m from the old school where a more classic look was the norm. In your articles you mention a few things that I have done but never really knew a valid reason as to why. There is one photo you have used that I have a question about.

    You mentioned a few way to bring out the “man” look in teens. In your “Posing – 101 Grownups and Teens” there is a photo of a teen sitting in a chair. I know there are many ways to interpret things but in my way of thinking his elbows should have been to the sides of his legs and his wrists should not have been crossed over each other. Both of those poses tend to make him look more a boy than a man.

  • http://marionniewaldphotography.shutterfly.com Marion

    I am new to your blog and just LOVE it!!! Thank you so very much for all the insights and fantastic information that you share. WOW, I am so glad to have found you! thanks and have a wonderful day!!!