When it comes to portrait photography, posing your subject is an important part of the process. Discovering and collaborating around different angles and looks can create a wide variety of photographs to choose from, and can help to show the subject’s personality. In this video from LinkedIn Learning, photographer Chris Orwig turns a bad pose into a great one.

Bad pose to good pose from Learning Natural Light Portrait Photography by Chris Orwig

Alright, Ashley, thanks for helping out again. Here we’re going to talk about posing a little bit, going from a bad pose to something that is better. One of the things that I’ve talked about in the course is this idea that you can have your subject have some kind of anchor point, where they’re leaning against something, sitting down, touching something, and it creates that connection. And it helps to sort of stabilize them and create a better picture. So, one of the ways you can do that with a wall or a column, so let’s try the column out here.

OK. So, we’ll walk over here, and first, just stand next to it for me, and, yeah, even just standing right there. So if I take this picture, basically, it’s her sort of just standing there. But then why don’t you lean against it, and I’m going to exaggerate for a moment, or have her exaggerate. Sometimes you’ll have people lean against something, and it’ll be awkward. Let me show you the picture of that. And what I mean by awkward is, her shoulders kind of scrunch, or they’ll lean too hard into the wall.

So if that happens, just have them reset. So maybe stand up, and then rather than fully lean into it, just kind of glance it a little. Yeah, like that. That looks really nice. You know how to do this. And this looks really natural in this way, and again, I’m just going to try to frame my shot a little bit to get that connection. There are shots I could include the wall in. Let me show you those. And, Ashley, you’re doing great. And then a couple without that. And, just need to fix my exposure a little bit here. Just like that. There we go, and look over off in the distance for a second, and then back toward me. Yeah, that’s great. Thank you.

So you can see how it just is more natural, once they have a lighter touch. Or, you can really exaggerate it. So let’s try to figure out a way to exaggerate this. So what if you really kind of leaned into the wall? Yeah, like that, there we go. That’s really fun. And in this case, I’m going to get really close, and just get this shot where going so far to one extreme that that might be a fun pose as well. Now, out of those options, the one I think that would be the best was the one, maybe let’s go back to it just for a second, where you, yeah, like that one, where you’re just leaning on it.

Another thing to think about is if their back’s to the wall, you don’t want them to sort of slouch into it or go too far. But again, it’s like, just like that, yeah. It’s that really nice, light touch. We try one of those. Yeah. And then turn toward me a little bit more this way. Yeah, just like that, yeah. There you go, yeah. And then she, which was great, what happened there.

I don’t know if you guys caught that, but she leaned into the wall and realized that is was too heavy and self-corrected. And that’s something that happens a lot when you’re working in portraits. If you can give that direction, then all of a sudden it’s a collaboration, and we can start to create much better poses and portraits.