Tips and Advice on Posing

Having worked with professional models, amateur models, and normal everyday people (aka my friends whom I wrangled into sitting as my models), I’ve noticed characteristics of each that I hope to share. I hope that these observations will help your modeling career or just help you look your best in a photo. 

One of the hardest things to do when getting your picture taken is posing. The most frequent question I hear is “what do you want me to do?” Generally I’ll give you a vague direction: sit here, look this way, do something with your hands. Or other times I’m more specific and show you the pose I envision. Professional models will take those directions and give me 10+ variations on a pose. Amateurs will give me one. This is difficult to work with because most of the time, as a photographer, I don’t really know what poses will work for you and what poses won’t. A lot of models will look solely to the photographer for guidance. But it is a two-way street. You should know what poses look good for you before you sit down for your photo. Practice in front of a mirror, look at magazines, try some out, experiment and remember those poses so that when you’re in front of the camera, you can bring variety. Listen to the photographer’s verbal guidance but also look for non-verbal cues as well.

When I shoot a portrait, I have a general idea of the look I want. However, that image in my mind’s eye shifts and changes with the model’s input. Imagine, you can affect the photographer’s creative process!

1.       Have a variety of poses. This includes body movement and facial expressions. Please (please please please!) refrain from the pouty mouth look unless specifically asked.

2.       Move slowly. When changing from one pose to another, do it slowly to give the photographer enough time to capture shots in between.

3.       Listen for directions. Know your left from your right. Where to look.

4.       Look for non-verbal directions. Is the photographer tilting his/her head one way or the other, mimic those non-verbal cues.

5.       Relax! Loosen your shoulders and relax. Stiff poses are…stiff.

6.       Express your limits and boundaries. If the photographer asks you to do something you’re not comfortable with, say it. If you’re not comfortable, the photos will be awkward.

7.       Be aware of the light sources. This is uber important. Always remember where the light is hitting your face. Unless told to look away, always try to have the light on your face so that it can be seen and not shadowed.

8.       Have fun and be comfortable. I like doing silly faces and poses to help the model relax. It’s not all serious bendy arms and sucked-in tummies all the time.

Hope this helps! Leave a comment or suggestion you think I might have missed.


Seeing Monochrome

It's about a month since I first started the b/w project and I’m just as excited about continuing it for another week. During the month I’ve transformed my apartment into a small studio, moving around furniture (sorry downstairs neighbor!) and using natural lighting from my windows (I lost my hot-shoe mount). I’ve created a pinterest mood board  to help gather inspiration and have been pestering friends to model.

I’ve been exploring b/w classics such as portraits, textures, and nudes. At this point, I ask myself what else can I do? What other methods and techniques can I try to push the b/w photography boundaries?

In the past couple of days, I heard the words “low-key lighting” and “high-key lighting” thrown around. I have no idea what it means. I still don’t. I will google this.

Ok, back. According to Wikipedia, it’s a method to create strong contrasting effects. “Low-key lighting often uses only one key light, optionally controlled with a fill light or a simple reflector.” Here’s a basic setup according to this article:



I didn't have a reflector nor a snoot (spotlight). Instead I had to MacGyver a snoot out of tape and paper (yes, it fell a few times but it got the job done!).

Here's my first attempt:



I've been using pinterest to help come up with ideas. Here's a quick example of what I was inspired by and the result. What do you think?





My result

My result

Week 1: Review and Rewind

This week has been really tough! Firstly, it's hard to find someone to model during a weekday, so I ended up having a bunch of self-portraits. Secondly, I'm running out of ideas. I may have to go back and develop an idea further and see where it can go. Despite the difficulties, I've come to really really like black and white photos! I almost never take pictures in b/w, I usually manipulate it in LR in post-processing. But this is the first time where I actually shot in B/W (everyday except day 1). I'm beginning to see things around me in a different light (literally!).

Thoughts and things learned this week:

Day 1: This was my first time using the remote controller. Focus was on auto focus and the camera was focusing all over the place. I didn't know how to make it focus on a certain spot without putting it on manual. That's why the picture is a bit blurry.

Day 2: Learned how to make remote auto focus on certain points! Shine a flash light on the spots you want it to focus on! (read it in a blog post, not my genius idea). Once auto focus is correct, shift to manual and click away. Oh, and there are three settings on the remote control mode: Delayed (2s), quick-response remote, and remote mirror lock-up. Use the quick-response so that there is no delay. High shutter speed helps to capture the movement. Had to practice this quite a bit, may have sprained my neck a bit.

Day 3: Developing more on the auto focus technique. Using almost no external light source, I used a headlamp (didn't have a flashlight) and directed it towards my face. Manual setting with auto focus. High shutter speed and low ISO. This made me appreciate the capabilities of this camera under low light scenarios.

Day 4: Channeling Terry Richardson. His style is very distinctive, with bright lights on a white background . His subject is set in mundane situations and often wearing his glasses. I'm not sure how he removes the shadows from the flash. Is this post-process? or does he use back fill lights?

Day 5: Textures. Black and white photography really brings out the textures in everyday life. This is a sweater I have sitting in my closet that I thought had nice textures. When photographed in black and white, it creates this lush, weave. Will have to use this again.

Day 6: I tried to remove the flash shadows this time around by having model sit closer to the wall. I think this fixed it?

Day 7: I think I took this without look through any view finder. No external cropping was added. The sun was very bright and setting around 2 o'clock time. Not the best for b/w/ photography as the contrast is too harsh. Will need to explore this later.


Project 365

Ok guys, here is my theme for January 2013: Black and White portraits. If you are up for modeling, please contact me! I think the biggest challenge will be finding subjects to photograph. I might end up having 365 self-portraits!

Why do it?

Taking a photo a day is a big undertaking with big payoffs. Here are just a few reasons why you should consider doing it:

  • Imagine being able to look back at any day of your year and recall what you did, who you met, what you learned… (Often we find it hard to remember what we did just yesterday or even last night, let alone a whole year ago!)
  • Your year-long photo album will be an amazing way to document your travels and accomplishments, your haircuts and relationships. Time moves surprisingly fast.
  • Taking a photo a day will make you a better photographer. Using your camera every day will help you learn its limits. You will get better at composing your shots, you’ll start to care about lighting, and you’ll become more creative with your photography when you’re forced to come up with something new every single day.

Source: Photojojo