Posing people in photography is truly an art. I want to bring up the basic techniques of posing people because even the everyday photographer, the everyday snapshot shooter can learn from this. If you look at these posing techniques and apply them, imagine how much better your photos of people will be.
I spent some time in a portrait studio, and realized that there is so much to posing people, getting their hands just right, getting lighting just right, and it truly is an art in itself. The one thing I found out is that sometimes you can truly be the best in your field of posing a person, but, you will always have the one person who says: “I don’t like them”. You can feel devastated after you spent so much time creating these masterpieces, and then you find out, that they wanted and expected a $1000 dollar job for only $50. So, it takes years of practice, and continual learning to get to the point of becoming a master portrait photographer. I admire those who spend their photographic career doing portraits. It is hard work, but so rewarding. Almost everyone loves your work once you get it done right. If they don’t like your work, sometimes I just think it’s because the model is just plain ugly and you can’t do miracles.
Almost every photographer will take pictures of people who have a little extra weight around their waist. And the best thing you can do to help them look like they don’t have so much “bulge” is “stop the squish” by having the model put their arm on their waist. That seems to cover up the bulge a bit, plus, it tends to take your eyes away from the area of the bulge.
If you want to talk about a “static” pose, then have them stand with their feet together and look at the camera. That is an awful way to have a person stand, if you must have them stand. Always have them stand at a 45 degree angle to the camera, or have one foot standing in front of the other, as shown above. It will give a more pleasant angle of the body as well.
As illustrated, this gives a more graceful pose. Notice the back hand is placed to help give a nice angle to all of the body as well. This makes the portrait not so static. Let’s look at an example of how this looks in real life:
Even though the arm isn’t placed as the diagram shows, you can see how the front shoulder is much higher in elevation than the back one. That makes the whole body in a nicer form. Also, notice that she is in a proper 45 degrees to the camera (see #2).
The chin out theory is for a couple of reasons: A- especially as people get older, they tend to get a bit of “double chins”, and the best way to get rid of this during portraits is to have them bring their chins out. And B- In a Close-up pose, and almost a 45 degree pose of the face, or 90 degree pose, you want to get a good sharp image between the face and the background. And the best way is to have them looking off to the side as well. Let’s look at some great examples of how nice this looks:
If you have your subject sitting in your portrait, make sure you have the subject cross their legs. If you don’t the legs may look overweight, or just not “pretty”. If you have a man in your portrait, have them cross their legs down by their ankles.
Keep in mind that the portrait, is a picture of the person, not the clothes. Solid colors are the best thing you can wear in having your portrait taken. I love the subtle colors, that are not bright and flashy, but rather subdued colors, that don’t detract from the actual portrait. It doesn’t matter what color skin you have, keep the colors simple.
In going over these standard steps of posing people and finding examples of posing people, it is obvious that I have found other steps that I should mention in posing people. Let me go over some other rules of posing that I discovered while putting this article together:
In photographing a small group of people, if you can, put the faces in a triangle. It makes it more attractive, looks like the family belongs, and actually loves each other, and makes a lasting portrait that will last a long time. Isn’t this one charming?
So many of the portraits today are using props or outdoor settings for the portraits. This makes posing the subjects easier and makes the portrait even more outstanding. Ask the subject where they would like to have their portrait taken, but, don’t forget the usual rules of photography. Notice this subject, standing at a 45 degree angle, legs crossed, etc, has made this an ideal portrait.
When doing engagement photos or taking photos of “people in love”, it seems that they really want to show their intimacy. So, it may be fine to break the rules a bit, to show their love, and maybe not show their faces completely. The subjects really want to show the world how much they love each other. Your photo of them in an intimate moment can go a long way. You know which photo will hang on the wall? It is this one.
If you want an award winning photo, ask a homeless person, or a very old person who has a lot of wrinkles or age showing, and see if you may take their photo just head on like this one. There seems to be a market for portraits like these that show “life” in an aged person like this. You may get some resistance, but, wow, you may have something with this type of portrait.
Male portraits today, just seem to be more the thought of showing how “macho” they are. Get the full length of the man, showing them in their natural habitat. If they seem to be the rough-and-tough type of guy, then get them outdoors and show them as they like to be.
If you have a man that seems more sophisticated, then you can have a lot of fun taking pictures of them in their office, or where they seem to spend a lot of their time:
So, here are some other great ideas of poses that I like. Look at these as great ideas to learn from. And I hope you have learned a little bit of posing.
There are many kinds of posing techniques now. The guidelines presented today are the ones that I think should be followed mostly to get you the best results. If you look at the selection of photos, say, in Bing Photos, you will see a lot of Photos that are not following any rules at all. But, they are nice, and I looked at them as some that are not taken by photographers who really know what they are talking about or who have been schooled in posing techniques. If you want to really become good at taking good people photos, try to follow the above techniques and you will be a lot happier with your photos, and so will your subjects.
We often go through life missing so much of the beauty of our world. God created this world with so many beautiful places to see, and, in my opinion, we often don’t know of many of the many hidden, beautiful places around the world that are there for us to see. In this week’s PHOTOS OF THE WEEK, I would like to introduce the world to one of the beautiful places of the world I have recently discovered in pictures, and that is in this beautiful scenic valley in INDIA – SCENIC VALLEY OF KASOL.
I will admit, that I never thought that I would see pictures of snow in India. Living here in the United States, didn’t think that there was this kind of mountain terrain in India. When I found these photos, I was amazed. And maybe, India is trying to keep this hidden from the world, who knows? But, such beauty is something that should be shared. Let us take a moment to enjoy one of the most beautiful places in the world. And if you are looking for an untouched part of the world that few photographers have visited, maybe this is your destination.
Kasol is a hamlet in the district Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, northern India. It is situated in Parvati Valley, on the banks of the Parvati River, on the way between Bhuntar and Manikaran. It is located 31.2 km from Bhuntar and 5 km from Manikaran. Kasol is the Himalayan hotspot for backpackers..It acts as a base for nearby treks to Malana and Kheerganga.
The nearest airport is the Kullu–Manali Airport (IATA: KUU, ICAO: VIBR) in Bhuntar. It is also the nearest major bus stop, connecting to Manali. Kasol is well connected to the rest of India only by well-connected roadways. Regular bus services ply to and fro the city of Kasol; buses being operated both by private and government owners. There is no direct flight or rail connectivity to Kaso.
I love how so many of these photos included people in them. It made you feel like you were there. Such a beautiful place and such beautiful people, all enjoying this magnificent scenery. India has a piece of Heaven on Earth for sure.
For more photos of this beautiful area, go to their Facebook website at
Thanks fo Kasol – Scenic Valley for the use of these photos. I hope from the use of these photos, many people will visit here and enjoy this beautiful place.
In this final series, I want to mention once again, that this applies to both photographers, and artists alike. Artists, too, have this same issues as photographers, because they are trying to make sure their drawings, paintings are nice to look at too, and composition plays a big part for them as well.
To an artist, this seems like common sense. To a photographer, this is one of the biggest mistakes photographers make. Shoot first, then be disappointed later. Imagine if you could that you came upon a beautiful landscape and then you could visualize in your mind what you want it to look like on your image sensor…… the final result. So, how would you take that photo? The difference between a good photographer and a great photographer is creative composition. Knowing the what, where, and how of composition will put you ahead of your peers and help you create a dynamic image every time. And that takes practice for sure. It is kind of like what your parents wish you did early in life: “think before you speak”, only in this case: “visualize before you shoot”. The best images aren’t taken by accident. They’re carefully composed before the shutter button is pressed.
By carefully selecting and positioning your subject matter in a composition you will be able to create a successful image every time. Here’s how.
1- VISUALIZE YOUR IMAGE
Know what you want in your image before taking it. Composition is not luck or chance. You rarely shoot a great photo by chance. By considering what you want in your image and placing it according to the rules you’ll be able to repeat great images all the time.
2- CHOOSE THE RIGHT SUBJECT MATTER:
When visualizing a scene there are always several possibilities for a subject and related elements in the photos. By choosing the right subject for a particular image you will create the perfect image. The right subject for the right scene will create the right photo.
3- SELECT THE RIGHT FOCAL POINT:
It is essential when choosing a subject to place it on a focal point that creates interest in the image. This is the area that draws the eye of the viewer into the photograph. This focuses the eye on the part of the photo you want to emphasize. There may be several possibilities but choosing the right one will create the best possible image.
4- CHOOSE THE BEST FORMAT:
Normally you might shoot the photo horizontally. See how it looks if you shoot the photo vertically. In between the two is a 45 degree angle which makes an image dynamic with the diagonal lines created by the tilted view.
In the past, it wasn’t a strange thing to see a photographer use his hands to frame the landscape first to see how it would look in his mind
It does take time and effort to learn to do this, but, it is important in your pre-visualization of your composition.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. That means that your photographs or paintings should be a great way for you to communicate. The question is, do your photographs communicate the right thousand words to tell your story?
I think we have all had this experience before: photographing in a wonderful location, feeling eager to rush home and look at your pictures, only to be disappointed in the results? It’s quite a challenge to convert a three-dimensional, full sensory experience into a two-dimensional photograph.
I would like to give you a few tips that I have learned that may help you in your success rate in obtaining higher than normal quality photos. Instead of just raising your camera for a quick snapshot, now you would take the time to make a careful composition decision about the scene and how you feel about it.
#1 CHOOSE COLORS OR TONES THAT MAY REINFORCE YOUR STORY:
Light is the fundamental building block of any image. Light produces two kinds of contrast: color contrast and tonal contrast. Color is the hue that you see, like red, or green, or purple. Tone is another word for brightness, or how light or dark something is. Our brains are good at forming associations, and we associate colors and tones with particular feelings. These same associations appear in our spoken language. You’ve heard the expressions, “He was in a dark mood,” and “She was feeling blue.”
Blue connotes melancholy or tranquility. It’s also a color associated with stability and reliability. (What color are the logos of IBM, Microsoft, and Ford?) Red is the color of passion. Photographing an orange beach umbrella gives a stronger impression of a hot day than a purple one. Using dark tones creates a sense of gloom and foreboding. Light-toned images make us feel light-hearted and uplifted. Consider carefully whether the tones and colors in your image strengthen the story you want to tell or contradict it.
#2 USE LINES TO GUIDE YOUR VIEWERS EYES
Color and tone also reveal lines in your image. Lines are the boundaries created where two contrasting colors or tones meet. A thin shape, like a road, the stem of a plant, or a tree branch, may also be perceived as a line in your photograph. The brain’s visual cortex is programmed at a fundamental level to follow lines.
This is a powerful tool for you as a photographer. You can guide your viewer’s eye toward what you consider important in the image by using something in the environment to point to it. Conversely, be careful not to inadvertently place lines so that they lead your viewer out of the image.
#3 ORIENT THE LINES IN YOUR IMAGE SO THEY CONVEY THE RIGHT EMOTION:
Just as with colors, our brains also make emotional associations with line orientation. Vertical lines in an image give an impression of power, strength and pride. Horizontal lines are stable and calm. Diagonal lines, on the other hand, are dynamic, and signify motion or change. Curved lines may convey a sense of melancholy or of hope, depending on the direction in which they curve.
Think carefully when composing your image so that you include colors, tones, and lines that reinforce the story you’re trying to tell. You’ll be much more likely to create a photograph that captures and communicates how you felt when you were observing the original scene.
I read this once from a well known photographer, and I think that helps me realize that every photo I take is not a snapshot. Every photo I take is going on canvas. In fact, as you think about taking this photo now, think: “how big is this photo going to be on someone’s wall”. If you thought that, would you do something different taking your photo?
If you get a nice shot, what usually happens? You frame it and put it on your wall. Why do you frame it? Because it draws attention! In the children’s story “Charlotte’s Webb”, Charlotte concludes that people believe what they see in print. Likewise, people believe if something is framed it must be important. So why wait? When shooting, framing means something in the foreground that sets off, or “Frames” your main subject. Framing helps create a sense of depth by creating opposition. Start framing your shots, while you take them. Have you ever seen photos that have a natural frame in the photo? It makes it even a nicer photo.
Between the series of the 3 blogs on Composition, I hope you have enough in your tools now to go out and create some incredible photos. But, I hope that there is one thing more than anything that you have learned: and that is in order to become a success as a photographer, or even an artist, you must see your photo or painting as a finished product. See it hanging on the wall. Put some feeling into every photo. Not just one or two, but practice doing that with every photo. And the next thing is to learn from a photographer. This website is full of great examples of great photographers. I am constantly trying to find new photos, new photographers to help us all. I am constantly finding new people who take photos that just take me to a new level myself, and make me want to take more photos and want to find out how to do it myself. Let’s go for it, and soon, I hope to see your amazing photos here as well.