Three posing tips for a great photo every time
Working with people to create a great portrait or headshot takes some specialized knowledge, regardless of your lighting situations. Details including how the camera interprets what it sees, how to set your subject's position in a way that complements their body and still looks natural, and how to direct your subject are important to learn. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1 - Anything closer to the camera looks larger
How many times do you hear 'Can you make me look skinny?' or 'Can you photoshop all of this?' as someone gestures wildly around his or her midsection? With proper posing, you can guide your subject into a position that is flattering to their body so that you can do all of your slimming in camera. It is a boost to his or her confidence to see a flattering photo and know that what they are seeing is 100% themselves without any 'help' from the computer.
This is best achieved by being aware that whatever is closer to the camera looks bigger. With women, my typical instructions for a basic standing pose are: "Turn 45 degrees away from me (feet and everything) and then point your front foot back toward me. Then shift your weight to the back foot and stick your bum out the back, toward the back wall." This helps to ensure that the part of the body that people are most sensitive about (their midsection and hips) are as far away from the camera as possible, which is slims people right out in-camera. Alternatively, if you do a test shot with the subject's weight on her front foot, you'll notice that the hips and midsection appear much larger, potentially even larger than they are in real life.
For men, one of my favorite shots is to have him seated on the edge of a chair, again 45 degrees away from me, and then lean forward, clasping hands and resting his forearms on his knees. This way, his arms and shoulders look bigger (and stronger) and the midsection drops out of the shot.
In both cases, this technique helps draw attention away from the body and instead brings attention to the face, which is exactly what we want!
2 - Chin forward and down
The second biggest request I get when someone steps in front of the camera is "Can you get rid of my double chin?" Why yes, we can help with that! The trick to solving this problem is something I recommend that every photographer first try in the mirror to see what a difference it makes.
Face the mirror in a comfortable relaxed position. Notice how your chin and neck look. Next, push your chin out toward the mirror while keeping your shoulders in place - just move your chin and neck (yes, almost like a turtle!). Then keeping your neck extended, very slowly, drop your chin down lower and lower. As you go, you'll get to a point where your cheekbones are flat toward the mirror. Take another look at your chin and neck, and you'll find that the line of your chin is more defined, any double chin you might've had is either reduced or eliminated, and as a bonus, your eyes might look a little bit bigger!
While it feels absolutely crazy to do, it makes a huge difference in photos! Practice it a few times to see what looks best so that you will be able to direct your subject with confidence.
3 - Take a deep breath and relax
Stuck with a fake smile that you just can't seem to clear from your subject's face? It's normal! My go-to technique is to ask my subject to take a deep breath (I always breathe with them to help guide the breath and make them feel comfortable. Besides, it can't hurt for you to take a deep breath every now and again as well...), completely relax their eyes and face without moving from the pose, and I sometimes even ask them to also relax their eyes to the ground and not looking at me for a moment. When you see the forehead relax and the mouth relax completely (sometimes you have to ask him or her to completely relax and breathe a second or third time), then have them bring their eyes up to you with a big smile. Voila! Perfection!
There you have it! Three simple techniques to help get a great shot every time. Test them out and let us know how it goes!