The Importance of the Portrait Warm Up

The warm-up should gently prepare the body for exercises by gradually increasing the heart rate and circulation; this will loosen the joints and increase blood flow to the muscles. Stretching the muscles prepares them for physical activity and prevents injuries.—from Importance of Warming Up before Sport

As a younger photographer I attended a workshop on posing for portraits and it went something like this: The speaker, a well-respected gentleman who was well known for his classic portraiture, showed us how to pose a subject. It was basically put them in pose A, then move to pose B and finally Pose C. After a few minutes he asked me to show the group how to pose the model we were working with and I didn’t remember a darn thing. His process contained 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 if perfect either! As you look at the images throughout this blog and my New Blog, you will see real-world examples of real people working toward a single goal, making the best possible portrait, whether traditional, boudoir or glamour. That means that some compromises are inevitable and any posing “rules” should really be considered suggestions because the art of posing combines reality with what the subject and photographer can actually accomplish on a given day.

Tip: Before the shoot: Once a client is happy with their hair and makeup, it’s time to begin shooting but—and this is most important—I like to give a client time to warm up.

When working with clients who perhaps haven’t had a portrait made since high school, I don’t expect them to walk in front of a camera and move effortlessly from post to pose. So the first shots we make together are designed to have photographer and subject get into sync and during the first moments  I encourage the subject to just pose any crazy way they want (but don’t always show them these images.)

After a while, they’ll settle down and we can start with the real poses, until you produce a result like this glamour portrait of Joy—her real name—that was made with a Panasonic Lumix GH4 and Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 with an exposure of 1/125 sec at f/7.1 and ISO 200.


For more information on portrait posing, please pick up a copy of my book, “Posing for Portrait and Glamour Photographywas originally called The ABC’s of Portrait Posing, which is a title that I still prefer. New copies are available on for $25.57 with used copies on sale for $17.50, as I write this.

Author: Joe Farace

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