Portrait photography is not only about lighting or composition. It is the ability of the photographer or photographer assistant to direct a model to strike a pose that looks right and compelling. As photographer, one of your mandates is to creatively and uniquely get the most out of the model you are photographing.
Be prepared. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”, by Benjamin Franklin.
You may be an amateur and need to confront a few demons that might get in the way of accomplishing a successful photoshoot. Overcome shyness and assert yourself as photographer. Every photoshoot opportunity you get may be your last. Make sure you nervousness will not factor in and keep your composure. People are source of inspiration not failure. Always remember or carry a note of what you must do. If you have a list of different poses, by all means bring it or keep it at heart. The more shots you take the larger choices you have, thus increasing your chances to succeed.
“Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence”, by Vince Lombardi.
It’s your job to show your model how beautiful she really is. Do the prep works. Check the makeup, the hair, the props, the background or everything that gets in the photo with your model. Don’t just focus on the sharpness of your exposure. Check your model’s facial expression – importantly the eyes — before you push the shutter. The eyes mirror the inside of a being and what you can get out of it might create an impact you badly needed. Always train your focal spots on eyes as your primary reference. Portraying appropriate expression to meet shooting objective is paramount.
Expression is everything. Great photographers consider the model’s expression to be just as important as the location, lighting, and pose. Without it, nothing works. Smiles can be ugly and are not always what you want to see as end result and definitely not a single inherent component that makes a beautiful picture.
Envision how YOU want your model to look like and how YOUR model wants to look like in the picture, frame after frame. Try the many emotions that your model is capable of generating and use them creatively to compose a stunning shot. Infuse drama in your composition by employing many different emotions. It may be a still photograph but you can definitely use movement to create that twist that will raise your shot out of the ordinary and mediocrity. Get the head to tilt upward, raise the arm, push the chest out, curve the limb, bend the knees, hide one shoulder behind the other to conceal body mass, use the neck to project numerous head directions, even a finger can point in one direction that will noticeably create movement.
Have a positive energy. Portraiture is a congenial interaction with your model. Learn what to say and deliver your message in a manner that keeps your model’s composure, ease, confidence and comfort. Establish rapport and friendliness to calm your model’s nerve. Avoid unnecessary disagreement and futile argument. Mood is crucial to the success of your shoot. Your model’s state of mood, and yours, should not upset the equilibrium of a photo session.
Praise and encourage. Give positive feedback whenever your model does the right thing. Ignore what goes wrong and praise what goes right. Talking to your model keeps her relaxed and stops her from worrying about what you might think behind the camera. Choose poses that fit your model. Predispose your model in the right mood and work on getting your model’s personality come through. In the end, it’s not only you nor the model that will make a successful photoshoot. Portraiture success hinged largely on a partnership that photographer and model should invest on.
Here’s a few example of portrait photography, highlighting subtle posing differences that make big impact.
Credits go to Miss Angela Beltran for her beautiful photos and striking poses. Angela is also an experienced graphics artist and a commercial model. You may reach her at 0995-0824263 (when dialing from Philippines) or 01163-995-0824263 (when calling from abroad) should you wish to avail of her expertise.