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When it comes to photographing people it’s not just about the equipment, it is mostly about the interaction with your subjects. So many times I’ve seen photographers shooting portrait subjects and expecting them to do all the work. That may work when you’re photographing experienced models, but that may not be possible with new models or portrait subjects. Why? There are two basic types of photo subjects:
Inner directed people are the Energizer bunnies of photo subjects. You tell them to stand “over there,” point the camera at them, and they will change poses as fast as you can click the shutter. You will get lots of good poses, some great ones, and a few that are not so good because the model is not getting any feedback, except from themselves. The other downside is that you will also shoot more photos, which in turn takes more editing time which, in turn, requires bigger (or more) memory cards. The upside is that experienced models make you look like a better photographer than you really are, but it’s still you’re job to get the lighting right. Unfortunately, this type of subject represents 20% of the models or subjects that the average shooter ever gets to photograph.
Outer directed subjects represent the other 80% of your potential subjects and they expect you to tell them what to do. Shooting this type of subject takes more time, patience, and maybe smaller memory cards too. if you take the time to communicate what you want the subject to do it will pay off. The bottom line is that it’s up to you to tell the subject how to pose and in order to do that, you need to know what you want.
There are many opinions on how to properly pose a subject. Some helpful – some not. One useful source of ideas is Amherst Media’s series of posing guides, including Master Posing Guide for Portrait Photographers. Remember that these are just guides so you should select poses that you think you’ll like. Then try them and improve on them because your subject may have their own ideas too.
Keep in mind that there is no one perfect way to pose every subject. They come in all sizes, weights, and abilities to understand your directions, so keep it simple and if the subject is comfortable and the pose looks good, it’s a good one.
Joe Farace is the author of “Studio Lighting Anywhere” the second book in a trilogy from Amherst Media. It’s available on Amazon.com.
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