Post & Photo by Joe Farace – Follow Joe on Twitter

When I was a younger photographer I attended a workshop on portrait posing. It went something like this: The speaker, a well-respected gentleman that was well known for his portraits, demonstrated how to pose a subject. It was basically pose A, then pose B, then Pose C. After a few minutes he asked me to show the group how to pose the model we had been working with and I didn’t remember a darn thing. It was too much detail for my brain to handle, so I won’t burden you with too much detail either.

If few portrait subjects are perfect, no pose is perfect either! That means compromises are inevitable and any “rules” you hear from me or anybody should only be considered guidelines or suggestions to help get you started in the art of posing. And it really is an art because it combines reality with what you and your subject can accomplish on any given day. As you get more experience, you won’t even think about posing, you’ll just shoot. In the meantime, here is one simple guideline that has worked for me over the years to get you started.

Don’t pose heavier subjects square to the camera. Besides lacking dynamics, it just makes a person look bigger. And speaking as someone who just lost more than 40 pounds, this is a big consideration for your subject. When they are standing in a three-quarter view (to the camera) have then put all their weight on the foot/leg that is farthest away from the camera. This should put them in a relaxed position but it doesn’t always because they will be relaxed in the formal surroundings of studio portrait. Posing is much easier in an outdoor setting because they are in more familiar environment, even if they may not be familiar with the specific location. It’s the sky, clouds, an all that stuff that makes’em relax.

(Above left) Is there a bigger cliché than an attractive woman on a motorcycle? I don’t think so. Even though this subject is fit, her shoulder and waist are square to the camera making her look a bit larger than she really is. No portrait subject will like this pose, so I kept shooting.

(Above right) Now her shoulders are still square to the camera but the tilt creates a diagonal line and her waist is twisted in a different direction than her shoulder. Her face is also slightly pointed away from the direction her shoulders are pointed—always a good idea. Looser cropping also helps place her body within a large context in the frame. Canon 5D with 135mm f/2.8 SF lens was used for both shots, with an identical exposure of 1/200 second at f/5.6 and ISO 200. Canon EX550 speedlite was used for fill.

Joe Farace is author of “Studio Lighting Anywhere” a new book that’s available from Amazon.con and your friendly neighborhood book or camera store.

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About scottbourne

Founder of Photofocus.com. Retired traveling and unhooking from the Internet.

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