©2014 Resa Design Photography by Resa Troyer, St. Louis, MODuring this long, long winter, I used my stuck inside time to take some photography classes! I had this on my to-do list for last winter, but it never got done. None the less, I am so glad I did it. One of the classes I took was THIS one on posing with Lindsay Adler. I really like the Creative Live classes and like to watch them live so you can get in on the chat groups happening at the same time, and ask live questions. Anyway, back to the point of this post. Posing. This isn’t something that was totally foreign to me, but the refresher and some new ideas really was just what I needed to jump-start my 2014 sessions. My biggest take away from Lindsay’s class was setting the foundation with foot placement – specifically with women/girls, shifting body weight to one leg/foot.

©2014 Resa Design, LLC. Image by Resa Troyer

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of doing a session with this beautiful and talented high school senior. We had been waiting for a warm day (because like almost everywhere, winter has been long and brutal here in St. Louis). I am thrilled with the images we created, and based on the big hug I got from mom the other day, they are too. I’ll use them to share with you some of my new (and old) posing techniques and how I direct the client- because that’s usually the hardest part for most photographers.

A few tips on posing high school senior girls:

  1. DO STANDARD POSES- They are so easy to work with and willing to try new things- so get creative. But first- do the standard poses (because that’s what mom, dad, and grandma want and will BUY). Lindsay suggests these are: Standing, Sitting, Leaning, Laying. I found it’s not always possible to do all 4 of these at every location. It’s also not always the girls “style”. I like to be flexible with rules like this.
  2. FEET- Even when you are taking head shots, take the time to position the lower body. It will set the tone for their whole posture. Women’s body’s are not flattered by feet placed next to each other pointing forward. So, after you have your client stand where you want them to be, go with this, “Put your weight one one foot. Great. Now take the other foot and turn it to the outside and slide it out. Pop the hip of the foot you have your weight on. Perfect!” Now you are ready to set the upper body. (More on feet below in #9)
  3. HAND PLACEMENT- Pay attention to hands. Always. Fingers can get stiff looking, look like they are missing, look angry, show tension, etc. They can also be used to slim a waist line. It may feel awkward to the client, but when they have their hands on their hips, have them pull their hands closer to the middle. This is a great way to create a waist line, or shrink one. Another tip on hands- direct the client to move their hands when they start looking forced or tense. Say things like, “wiggle your fingers” or “Put your hand on your head, now slide it softly down your head and face.” (then have them stop when it gets to a soft place you like).
  4. CHIN DOWN- When people stand up straight, they usually lift their chin, and you lose the jaw and see too much neck. The other problem that happens is when you are very close to the subject (or a client is looking at another client), their tendency will be to pull their face back and away from you, which is never flattering. If you have trouble getting your client to keep their chin down (and out) try asking them to “Push your forehead out towards me.” This will actually get their whole face at a better angle. Sometimes I say, “Push your forehead out. Great. Now down a little bit.” This gets the chin down a little more if they didn’t do that already. CHIN DOWN is flattering on every woman, I think. You can eliminate almost any double chin.
  5. CHIN DOWN (with glasses)- This IS my key to not getting the reflection off glasses. Well that and lighting. I have found when I am seeing reflection in a clients glasses, if they tip their chin down even a little more, but keep their eyes on me, I can get rid of it.
  6. SHOW THE JAW LINE- Don’t cover the jaw line with hands, or clothing. (You will see I broke this rule in a few of these images. Oops!) The jaw line give the face shape. When you hide it behind a hand or anything else, you lose that curve and shape of the face.
  7. NEGATIVE SPACE- This was something that was really hammered home in the class I took. Negative space draws the eye around the image and can be used to create curves and/or a slimming effect. Look in a mirror with your hands at your sides, now put them on your hips with your elbows out. See the difference?
  8. EYES- Most clients need you to tell them where to look. I love asking my clients to look deep into my lens. “See if you can see the shutter snap (I use the word butterfly when I’m shooting kids).” I also like to position faces so they are pointed off my shoulder or even a little farther, but then ask the client to just move their eyes to look at me. This will get you some great white in their eye, and maybe even some catch light if your lighting is perfect.
  9. SLIMMING the LOWER BODY- To create curves, or slim curves, cross the legs. Brilliant, I know. Picked this one up from that class too. In the image above, second on bottom, you can see this technique in practice. By having the client cross her legs, we created an hourglass shape with her lower half. I also cropped the frame at the knee to help this technique work best. If you use this technique, have them lean forward a little bit too, it will bring their middle half away from the camera, and minimize it more.
    ©2014 Resa Design, LLC. Image by Resa Troyer

©2014 Resa Design, LLC. Image by Resa Troyer©2014 Resa Design, LLC. Image by Resa Troyer©2014 Resa Design, LLC. Image by Resa Troyer©2014 Resa Design, LLC. Image by Resa Troyer

What are your favorite posing tips?

(Shot in Chesterfield, MO / St. Louis, MO by Resa Troyer for Resa Design Photography)


Billings5What a BEAUTIFUL girl! I had such a great time with Anna Maria during our fall Senior photo session.

Fall Highschool Senior Photos by Resa Troyer ©2013 Resa Design PhotographyShe styled herself for this session and, as most girls her age, did a fantastic job. Don’t you think? I wish I had been so stylish when I was a high-schooler. (Please DO NOT dig up any old photos of me please!)

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She had her makeup done for the session, and although she is gorgeous to begin with, I can’t encourage my clients enough to take the time to have professional hair and makeup for their portrait sessions. It makes such a difference in the final product. Natural makeup is what I most highly recommend. Keep the colors neutral and most-true to your daily routine. Billings4 Billings3

We had one of the windiest days I have every experienced in St. Louis. We didn’t get to shoot exactly where we wanted because we searched for cover and escape from the wind, but I think we ended up with great images. I know her mom was thrilled. Billings2

©2013 Resa Design Photography

Happy Graduation Anna Maria!



Fall Family Photos by St. Louis photographer Resa Troyer of Resa Design

I began professionally photographing clients over five years ago. What started out as a nearly life long hobby, turned professional the day the first client paid for my service. (Or maybe the second or fifth client?) Since then I have had the privilege of quite a few return clients year after year. I am so grateful for them and the friends they have referred to me.

My tip for getting return clients?

Clients are attracted not only to the photos they receive, but also the experience they have with you when they are in front of the lens.

1: BE YOURSELF & BE RELAXED

It’s easy to get caught up in the technical aspects of photography, because there are A LOT of them. The more familiar and practiced you are with your camera and photography in general, the less consuming this part can be. My shoots go downhill (sometimes fast) if I am having equipment or technical problems. So try to nail those out before your paying sessions start. Posing also proves challenging for may new photographers. My advice is to have a game plan. When I started I even wrote it down. I had a list of shots I wanted to get (or the client wanted) in the order I wanted to get them. Sometimes you have to get creative depending on setting or people issues, but this will really help you feel like you have a handle on the session.

Let your personality shine. If you are very reserved, this might be more challenging for you and you might need to dig deep. Sometimes I have to jump around. Sometimes just being silly with little kids will help them warm up. With all children (who can speak) I spend a lot of time asking questions. I also do my best to explain to them when we are doing so they are not so freaked out in front of the camera. For older kids this usually helps take the performance pressure off of them.

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2: MAKE THE EXPERIENCE ENJOYABLE

Being prepared with a plan for your session will really help with this. Be sure you have scoped out your location in advance and have a plan on where you want to stage your photos. If it’s a public place, I always check the city website to see if there will be any events happening at the time of our session.

When I look at photos of my own family, I don’t just see what’s printed on the paper, I remember the experience. I remember the mood, the weather, the smells, the laughter (and the sometimes fighting). So what I’m really seeing is the whole experience. Your clients do the same thing when they look at the photos you deliver. If they had a good time, felt cared for, had fun, etc.. those feels come back when they see their images. I’m always reminded of this when a client falls in love with an image that didn’t stand out to me. Instantly I realize they are having an emotional connection to that image. A connection I may or may not even understand.

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This was the third year in a row I have photographed this family (others here and here). The first year a few of the boys were not so interested in having their photo taken. They were skeptical of me and what was going to happen. This year I am excited to share, even the most unwilling participant smiled and even talked to me! Yay! Patience and time are the best methods for clients like that I think. I anticipate next year’s photo experience being even better.

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Second year in a row I got to photograph this great family in St. Louis.

When kids are not fond of having their photos taken, work with them. The most important thing in these situations is to keep the photo session relaxed. Sometimes kids arrive at the location unsure of what to expect or afraid they won’t “do it right”.

I like to start my sessions just talking to the family, and the kids directly. Ask them questions about school, life, etc. Have them tell you a story. Let them loose up. Investing a few minutes in the beginning will get you better pictures in the end.

After you’ve gotten them relaxed, if you can, consider letting them choose a location to take their photos (or from a few you suggest). Using common objects (aka props) in unexpected ways can ease the experience for those camera-shy kids too.

I always keep this in mind when I am shooting, the goal is not a smile, but capturing the essence of the child in a beautiful way.
Shutterfly.com



I take great care when photographing teenage girls. They are girls after all, not mature women quite yet. Just sweet, innocent girls, who’s childhood is being captured. No need to rush things.

This beautiful girl was so much fun to photograph. She was perfectly styled- simple hair and makeup, a solid top, with a pop of color from the scarf (I loved her scarf, isn’t it fun?!).

What do you think?