How To Pose Portrait Subjects

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

_4250082.BWWhen it comes to photographing people it’s not just about the equipment, it is mostly about your interaction with a subject. Many times I’ve seen photographers making portraits and expecting the subjects to do all the work. That may be true when you’re photographing experienced models but that may not be possible with new models or retail portrait clients. Why? Because 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’ll change poses as fast as you click the shutter. You’ll get lots of good poses, some great ones, and a few not so good because the subject isn’t getting feedback, except from themselves. You’ll also shoot more photos, which in turn takes more editing time, which require bigger or more memory cards. The upside is that working with Inner directed subjects makes you look better than you are but it’s still your job to get the lighting right. This kind of subject represents 20% of the subjects the average shooter gets to photograph.

Caption: Shot with Olympus EM-10 and Olympus 45mm f/1.8 lens with an exposure of 1/125 sec at f/11 and ISO 400.

Outer directed subjects represent the other 80%. They expect you to tell them what to do and may just stand and wait. Shooting this type of subject takes more time and patience but if you take the time to communicate what you want it will pay off. Some subjects will respond better if you show them what the photograph looks like on the LCD screen. posing.cover.newTip: I put myself in the pose to show what I had in mind but the subject almost always does it better. 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.

Keep in mind that there’s no perfect way to pose every subject. Portrait subjects come in all sizes, shapes and the ability to understand your directions, so keep it simple. Tip: If the subject is comfortable and the pose looks good, it’s a good one.

Joe is the author of “Posing for Portrait & Glamour Photography” which is available at your friendly neighborhood bookstore or Amazon.com.