Posing a portrait subject against a seamless paper background is the ultimate tests of your ability to make something from nothing; you’re shooting without a net—naked, even if your subject is wearing clothes. All that stands between you and a good portrait is your imagination. Because there’s nothing for your subject to interact with, your posing directions are going to have to be more precise than normal and you better cross your fingers that the subject is inner directed because it’s just the the subject and your talent.
For this portrait shot against white seamless paper, the main light was a White Lightning X1600 monolight with a 22-inch Matte Pan reflector and diffusion sock mounted. The second X1600 was aimed at the background. I’m cheating here because I gave the subject a long hot pink scarf to work with and it’s really a useful prop. The scarf adds some color to what would otherwise be a monochrome shot but also gives her something to do with her hands. After asking the subject to extend her left leg (so it would show it off) we just tried various hand and arm poses with her holding the scarf until together we came up with this pose. Shot with a Nikon D300s and Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G lens.
Joe is the author of “Posing for Portrait & Glamour Photography” which is available at your friendly neighborhood bookstore or Amazon.com.