…it’s about interaction with your subjects and getting them to trust you and relax. A portrait shoot is a team effort so discuss what you would like to accomplish during a shoot. So many times I’ve seen photographers shooting models and expecting them to do all the work. Sometimes that works, sometime it doesn’t because there are two 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 subject isn’t getting any feedback, except from themselves. The other downside is that you will also shoot more photos, which in turn takes more editing time and will require bigger memory cards. This type of subject probably represents 20% of the subjects that you’ll get to photograph.
Anna Lieb (above left) is one of the best professional models I’ve ever photographed and one way to increase you posing skills is to work with such subjects because it’s impossible to make a bad photograph of them, so watch what they do and remember the poses! That doesn’t mean you can’t direct them after they’ve thrown what they think is her best pose. It’s a collaborative effort and working together you’ll come up with that perfect pose. Image made with Canon EOS 50D and EF 28-105mm lens with an EX 550 speedlight used for fill.
Outer directed subjects represent the other 80% of photo subjects and expect you to tell them what to do. Shooting this type of subject takes longer but if you take the time to communicate what you want the subject to do. The best ones will respond better if you show them what the photograph looks like on the LCD screen—big screens really help with this. The bottom line is that it’s up to you to tell them how to pose and in order to do that, you need to know what you want but you also what that direction to be gentle and allow them to be who they really are. The photograph at right is a first shoot with an aspiring model. Her shyness is visible from the pose that she assumed when I asked her to lean up against this tree but her natural charm shines through and she went on to be one of the best models I ever photographed.
Joe is the author of “Posing for Portrait & Glamour Photography” which is available at your friendly neighborhood bookstore or Amazon.com.