©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)


©2014 Resa Design PhotographyHere is a look behind getting this shot. It’s not as hard as you might be thinking. You can even do it with your phone!

STEP 1: I laid the blanket out in an area of the yard with even light. This session was purposefully schedule towards the end of the day. I usually allow 2 hours for family sessions. In the fall it’s tricky scheduling them because the later in the fall it gets, the shorter the days get. One year I made a HUGE mistake and forgot about day light savings time and schedule all my sessions after that day at the wrong time. I won’t do that again! NOTE: I faced their chins toward the sun. I did this because I didn’t need their hair lit as much as I wanted their faces lit.

STEP 2: I put the littlest head in the middle. Well relatively in the middle, since there are four kids. Then I planned to put the “biggest” head on the outside, and well I didn’t want the boys and girls together so I staggered them. I wanted the littlest head in the middle so I could get a little bit more angle and pull them closer together by differing the hight a little big. I also didn’t want her head to fall off the side and throw off the proportion of the composition.

HDUGTS_kidsHeads_bSTEP 3: Squish them together. You can see there are a few shoulders overlapping. My goal was to get their heads together as close as possible. This will feel uncomfortable, so if your clients are not into closeness, save the squishy part until the end.

STEP 4: Stepped behind the kids heads. I know! You thought I was right over their bellies right? Tricky, tricky. I was standing behind their heads (see my toes here). Why? 1- no chance of any shadows on their faces. 2- I got them to look a bit more because they almost had to look backwards. 3- it’s more comfortable for the clients, usually, if you aren’t standing “on” them.

©2014 Resa Design PhogotraphySTEP 5: Photograph! I took quite a few pictures in this pose. Them looking right at the camera smiling. Not smiling. And finally I got them to laugh. I’m not sure how, but a fart joke usually does the trick with kids. Also, threatening to tickle can do it sometimes too. Honestly, I usually start with, “Give me your best fake laugh.” If that doesn’t work, I move to the previous suggestions.

HDUGTS_kidsHeads_eSTEP 6: Rotate in editing software and edit as needed. In this case I had to take my toes out of most of the images. I also brightened them up a little bit and applied my favorite filter, all in Lightroom.

©2014 Resa Design Photography HDUGTS_kidsHeads_c

Cheers to happy posing! -Resa