I’ve been finding myself more and more in the Teacher’s seat…and I love it. There is always so much one can learn when teaching someone else about what one does/loves. It’s like a reciprocal gift. And in the spirit of sharing, I’m going to start posting the questions that I get from fellow photographers, aspiring ones, or avid hobbyists. Here’s this week’s question to start us off:
- “What goes through your head when you meet up with a client for a shoot? I’ve asked friends to pose and model for me, and posing and composition hits me like a writer’s block sometimes. I’ll have a few good ideas and then a flat line of thoughts.”
That’s a GREAT question. While I’d love to say that I always have a head full of incredible ideas, the truth is that I can get stumped too. The thing is, you can only pose people so much. And for me, there is a lot to be said about letting a moment happen naturally. I feel very, incredibly blessed to have met some of the country’s best photojournalists and get an insight into their noggins. People like Joe Appel, Candice Cusic, Huy Nguyen and the like. From listening to them, seeing their work, and really absorbing the process of photojournalism, I’ve learned to capture great moments. I’m learning still…and I learn every day.
Most subjects are not professional models. Some are quite shy about being photographed and they need a little direction. Some people may be of the idea that intervening in a moment is like cheating. But in all honesty, I don’t see a problem with helping a moment along in the realm of what I do. Below is a perfect example. Kristi and Jake flat out told me that they felt “out of place”, “weird” and “a little uncomfortable” when we started their shoot. So I helped them get into a comfy pose…and in the words of the great Candice, I set out to “just wait”. I told Jake how to sit and I asked Kristi to lay across his lap. I talked to them from behind my camera and they talked back. They started having their own little conversation while I lay on the grass about 10 feet away…just waiting. I felt the moment coming. I read their body language. I saw them relax. And then…it happened:
Jake stroked her hair in that loving way, she sensed the stillness of the moment and started to wonder what I was doing, she turned her head towards me…and…BAM! The shot happened. I caught it just as her expression was still wrapped up in the bliss of their moment.
To get to that starting point of knowing how to pose someone, I always have my eyes open. I watch movies…A LOT of movies. I pay attention to how a shot is composed, to the lighting and how it sets a mood. I look at magazines. I look at old picture books. I look…and then look some more. And this is not meant to copy. Instead, in doing so I get a sense of what I like and why I like it. And it becomes part of a subconscious way of seeing. It’s kind of like muscle memory. My brain just keeps it all in there and uses it to assess what is happening in front of me when I’m shooting. Then I read my subject. I get to know them. I make them laugh. They make me laugh. And in those moments, sometimes (when we are lucky) magic happens. That’s my recipe.
What about you? Do you have a different way to approach posing?