Portrait posing made easy in 10 simple steps and how lens choice influences your images. Take these 10 easy steps to help you be more successful in your photography portrait posing!
You know, if it freaks you out when you step on set and you’re not sure what to do with talent. And man, trust me that happens to just about all of us one time or another.
Maybe you’re working with models who’ve never been on set before. Maybe you’re working with models who you just don’t click with very well. I want to give you the tools necessary so that you feel comfortable being on set and posing talent. So here’s my 10-step list to be able to make your photo shoot more exciting and easier to pose.
Number one: Select a pose. Just select a pose and start your shoot. As you select that pose and start shooting…
Number two is look for anything that’s unflattering to the body in this experience. And make adjustments immediately. But keep shooting.
Number three: Don’t forget the hands and the arms. Don’t let them just die on you or disappear on you. Integrate those into your experience.
Number four: Make sure you get a good posture.
Number five: Don’t let people start to slouch because they may get kind of lazy in the experience as you keep going.
Number six: Don’t forget the hop. I love the hop. If you can get them to, just do a little jump. It gives them more energy and makes the thing a lot more interesting. It’s going to go a new direction for you.
Number seven: Keep talking to them. Keep being positive. Don’t get buried in your equipment. Keep talking. Be positive with them. It’s going to keep the energy going.
Number eight: Take more photos. You may think, “Oh I got two or three of this.” But it’s not working. Try little subtle adjustments. Make subtle adjustments. Take more photos. Do subtle adjustments. Take more photos.
Number nine: If it’s starting to get boring change the camera angle. It becomes immediately more interesting if you’ll change the camera angle. Get a different lens and a different camera angle. And all of a sudden you have a whole new experience. It’s just keeping the energy moving forward.
Number 10: Add a prop or have them flip the dress. That gives you a lot of energy. Get something moving. Have the men start doing something like throwing a hat. You know, I saw a great portrait that one of my students did where they just decided to toss the hat in the air and try to put it on their head tossing it. And they got some great shots. Doing that just gives some energy to the situation, by adding a prop or getting them to do something interesting with their hands.
So there you have it. A 10 step process. Then just repeat it. Just try a new pose and you go right through it again.
I think it’s impossible to talk about posing unless you talk about lenses. Is there only one lens you can use when you’re doing people photography? Yes, there’s only one. NO! It’s not just one. There’s so many different options.
My favorite is a 70 to 180 millimeter lens. This is a Sony e-mount lens made by Tamron. It is by far my favorite and I’ll tell you why.
Because when you get down to the bottom end of it 70mm, 75mm, 80mm, 85mm you’re really in a great kind of medium portrait shot.
It’s just a fabulous lens for doing portraiture, head and shoulders waist up. But then if you go into a 180mm and you put a person full frame down the street a little bit, the background just falls so beautifully out of focus at f,2.8. So I love this lens. I think it’s probably the best people lens made. I think it’s just incredible to be able to shoot people on this lens for those reasons.
Can I always use this? Unfortunately, no. I really can’t.
We’re shooting in a room that’s a little too small for that. I can’t get back far enough. So I will definitely go to the 28-75mm. When I go to 28-75mm it gives me the ability to open up a little bit. I can do it full body.
When I’m in a little closer to the person I can still get to 75mm. Which gives me a little bit of that compression on the face that I like. It makes a person look really nice if I get into a head and shoulders. It also focuses close enough that I can get in tight. It’s just a great lens to be able to use.
But then a lens that you might not think of when you think of portraiture is a 35mm. The reason a 35mm works in my mind is I call it a contextual lens. When you shoot with a 35 millimeter you are viewing the surroundings in context to the person. You don’t want to get in so tight on the person that it makes their face and their features kind of goofy and extra distorted. But you step back a little bit. It does not have to be much and you get to see where they live, what they do, where they work. It just becomes a contextual lens. It’s like an environmental portraiture lens.
The 28-75mm is right in the middle because it gives me some of that wide. It really gives me great wide but I can get in a little tighter. So if I do an environmental portrait I will sometimes jump to the 28-75mm to just give me some options to get in tighter, get a few shots and give me wider for the room. It just depends on exactly how tight the room is. For me, and what I want to accomplish, whether I go with the 35mm or I jump to the 28-75mm, both are great lenses.
You know, it is funny because I have shot 24mm portraits before in a tight room where I want to see. I was doing a bathtub shot and it was really tight and it was just a fun shot and I had to use 24mm.
But one lens I should give a little nod to that is just a fascinating lens to me is a 28-200mm lens. It’s a 2.8-5.6. What’s really interesting about this and useful is it’s almost a street walk around portrait type lens. Because you can get those long shots. And when you’re on 200mm that f/5.6 does fall out of focus nicely. But you can also walk in and become more contextual with the person and do a little wider shot. So I think it’s a great street kind of walk around portrait lens.
So there’s a look at the lenses. Everything from long to short and just kind of how I use them. I’ve shot a lot of people in my career and even though I shot a lot of people in my career it still makes me a little nervous every time I have to work with a talent. And I feel like I could be better at making them more energetic and more excited. It’s just a constant struggle for photographers. And kind of a dance with a photographer and model. That’s why when I find a model that I love and I work well with them, I had a model, he and I shot so many things together because we were just on the same wavelength, keep those people and shoot them often. But also know that new people will push you in new direction. And that’s a positive thing as well. So keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’!
I have had incredible highs, really lows and in every single one of them I wouldn’t change a thing. Sometimes you get possessed by the music. You don’t know why. It talks to you. It becomes something that you just want to do. And throughout my whole life when I talk to my peers and people that have devoted their life to music, we pretty much all come with the same conclusion. That it just it was something that completely captivated you and you went for it. It’s just like that spell hypnotizing like music. And that’s what we do. One of the greatest things about music is when you go out there and you see people for that hour or that 90 minutes or whatever it is, forgetting about everything. I’m Oskar Cartaya. I’m a musician bassist by trade. And my faithful companion around the world has been SKB cases.