Posing is fun!
As my journalist roommate would say, the above is what is referred to as a “misleading headline”. Posing is a beast. Ever since I’ve begun photography professionally, it has been once of my biggest challenges. The idea of knowing how to pose people, how to make them look good, to accent their qualities and downplay any causes for insecurity felt so far from my knowledge base I may as well have been trying to figure out high school calculus all over again.
Luckily, the more you tackle something, the easier it gets. The many great workshops Creative Live recently hosted were a huge first step towards learning posing. Sue Bryce, Bambi Cantrell and Zach and Jody‘s workshops all helped make posing feel like something more natural and less planned. Keeping up to date with fashion magazines was also a great help. Though fashion photography is not something I necessarily strive towards, there are ads and editorial sections in magazines such as Vogue, Elle and Glamour that can serve as great inspiration for a stunning bridal portrait or engagement shot. Heck, even the free H&M catalogue is a great resource!
But the greatest push towards making posing an achievable and (dare I say) even enjoyable part of this job was the immeasurable help I got from my friends last month. Eight of my awesome friends dedicated a Saturday afternoon to come downtown and serve as a mock wedding party for a ‘posing practice’ photo session. The boys suited up, the girls brought out dresses and high heels and they all bore with me as I nervously fumbled through my dozens of planned poses. It was challenging, but I cannot believe the difference that one afternoon made. Here are a few examples of what I learned that day:
Triangles! Anytime there were several triangular shapes in group formations, the photographs were much more visually appealing than those with symmetrical compositions. For instance, this group positioning is much more pleasant:
than this where everyone is in the same space and bunched up together:
The last minute lean. I found that, after placing everyone in their formations, asking them to lean in tight towards each other right before taking the shot created a dynamic in the photo. It not only brought out natural happiness and removed any stiff posing, but it also directed the viewers eye to the centre of the group where I had placed the bride.
The Vanity Fair lesson. Annie Leibovitz’s Vanity Fair poses are genius. I had with me every single ‘Hollywood’ Vanity Fair cover and borrowed poses from a few of them to put together this one:
This may be completely old news for more seasoned photographers, and there may be things I’m doing completely wrong, but I feel leaps ahead of where I was before the Posing Party. If you have any feedback, or your own stories about being posed or posing people, feel free to share by leaving a comment!
Thank you so SO much to Alexandra, Mel, Aviva, Andrew, Abhi, Catalina, Evan and Alberta for your help and encouragement! You guys rock! A special thank you also to Chandra for the dress!