©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


©2013 St. Louis Family Photographer Resa Troyer of Resa DesignAfter you have chosen a photographer, what to wear, and maybe even where to take your photos, you might be wondering what will happen when that day comes.

Here’s what I share with my clients: (I wrote this with some tips from another photographer, whom I can’t remember, sorry I can’t give you proper credit.)

Some things to note about your session:
  • I’ll start by introducing myself to everyone and getting to know the participants a little better. This will help everyone get comfortable, and I’ll get a feel for each person’s personality a little bit.
  • I keep things relaxed. Sometimes kids need some time to warm up. So I’ll just go with the flow and we’ll start with whomever is the most ready. (That said, often the best photos are taken towards the middle of the session when every one is relaxed and warmed up.)
  • I’ll take A LOT of pictures (the benefit of digital photography).
  • If you have small kids, it’s a good idea to bring a non-messy snack, and/or favorite soothing item. There tends to be a lot of moving and pausing during photo shoots.©2013 St. Louis Family Photographer Resa Troyer of Resa Design
  • Small kids are usually not used to being the constant center of attention for such a focused period of time. It’s a good idea to arrive well rested and fed, and know they may be tired or cranky when the shoot is over.
  • Don’t worry about cranky kids, crying babies, spit up, etc. I do this a lot. It comes with the territory. No need to apologize.
  • My photography style, which you hopefully already know, captures people in a natural state. I’m not a portrait photographer, although we will do some posing. Feel free to be yourselves, and relax. Everyone doesn’t need to smile or be looking the same way all the time.
  • You don’t have to be the director! I’ll take charge of the shoot, so you can sit back and enjoy your time in the spot light.
  • I’ll be watching what happens in the lens, so please be sure you keep an eye on your children.
  • If you want any special props in the photos feel free to bring them along. ©2013 St. Louis Family Photographer Resa Troyer of Resa Design
  • If there are any specific poses you want (or know you don’t want) please let me know. You can send me links to images, or just describe them to me. I’ll do my best to accommodate you.
  • The screen on camera’s is not the best view of your photos, so I won’t be using it to show you the images I capture. I will do my best to send you 1 or 2 images in the week following your shoot as a sneak peek if you would like.
  • No gum chewing please.
  • With the exception of shirtless kids, or naked babies, I will not shoot anyone dressed (or undressed) inappropriately.

©2013 St. Louis Family Photographer Resa Troyer of Resa Design

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.

Working on your holiday cards for 2012? I love this design from Tiny Prints. Click on image to view on Tiny Prints site.


25% off Holiday Cards and Party Invites {click here}

Need helping choosing which photo(s) to use in your holiday card?

  1. Choose a card layout that fits your photos, not photos that fit your card. This can be challenging when there are so many great templates out there these days. But you really will be less frustrated and more satisfied with the results if you do it this way. Promise.
  2. Use photos that have a clear, single message. They shouldn’t have distracting backgrounds or too many things going on. I personally like one great shot that represents my family’s personality (and where everyone’s faces can be seen when possible.) The hardest thing to do is to separate yourself from a photo. If you were present when a photo was taken, you have an emotional attachment to the photo. It means more to you than what is actually shown in the photo. But your reader wants a clear, updated photo of your family (or family members) that they can understand simply by viewing it despite not being present when it was taken. Does that make sense?
  3. Be aware of how the people look, or end up cropped in your card. Can you see everyone’s face clearly? Have you chopped off any arms in awkward places. Are heads connected to necks? Don’t laugh, you’d be surprised what happens in group photos sometimes. Make sure the poses aren’t awkward and going to land you on that awkward family photo site. Oh, and make sure everyone has their arms, legs, zippers zippered, buttons buttoned. You get it :)
  4. Be sure your image is high-resolution. There is nothing worse than a blurry card.
  5. If you are going to use more than one photo I think you either need to have them all from the same setting or they all need be different. Half and half doesn’t work for me.
  6. If you are going to use a lot of images. Make sure they are close up and very clear. Most cards are smaller than 5×7, so once you get more than 2-3 photos on there, they start to get pretty small. You don’t want your reader to need a magnifying glass to see a photo. Well unless you are my great-grandma :)

Why I like the Tiny Print card above: The example above is one of all the photos being from the same setting (you can tell mostly b/c they are all in the same clothes). The consistency makes for a smart, clean-looking card. My eye knows what too look at to get the message of this card, and it’s not cluttered with background distractions. Your reader should be able to tell who the card is from right away by looking at the photos, second by reading the text. The graphics are simple and easy to read. Plus I love the rounded edge, and that you can customize the graphics area background color. Although I am partial to the grey because it doesn’t fight with the photos.

How I would do it: If I were ordering this card I would include one main close up family photos on the bottom, and then one photo of each of my kids (close up head shots, not full body because the space is so small) on the top.

So what are you waiting for? Go order your holiday cards before you forget.


Tiny Prints Cyber Monday

Just a small peek at into my world. This is my “intern” who is developing our blog [aka playing games on my iPhone].

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE… the lighting in this photo. I didn’t touch it up, i.e. photoshop, this image at all. (Well besides adding the watermark, because there are creepy people out there who steal photos. Zeesh!)

This one will make it onto a wall somewhere in my house.

Happy Friday! It’s a great weekend for taking pictures (here at least).

[Shameless plug- this reminds me to tell you, if you are in the St.Louis area, I do have a few more spots open this week and in November, for photo shoots. I’m still developing my portfolio, so you’ll score a great deal! Currently available to capture the love and essence of families, couples, children, grand children… I’m game. At your home or an outdoor location. Pets… not so sure we would get along, but I’ll try.]

Does your child have a plush lovie? One of my boys has a hippo. (The other had a blanket.) He, Hippo, was actually lost for a year (behind the dresser) and was recently reunited with his owner, but I digress.

I love the idea of photographing with items of special importance. Grandma’s hankie in the hand of a bride, mom’s mixing bowl and a child covered in batter… in this case, a special bear.

Photo credit: Ange de Lamour