One of the most difficult challenges for beginners is figuring out how to pose a model. It is, however, an important move to learn. If you want to make beautiful portraits, you must know how to pose your model.
Here are some pointers to help you get the best poses for your portraits. Keep in mind that reading alone will not develop your skills immediately. It is said that practise makes better. These suggestions would only be helpful if you put them into effect by taking a lot of portraits.
1. Help your model feel relaxed:
There’s a fine line between flattering and unflattering/unnatural poses. A lot depends on the subject of the photograph. A particular pose can work for one person but not for another. This variation is due in part to the individual’s level of comfort. Any pose, no matter how ‘normal,’ can appear awkward if the model is anxious or tense.
As a result, it’s important to make your model feel at ease before you begin posing. Regardless of the pose, an uneasy model will make your portrait look less real, so do your best to make him/her feel at ease. Build a comfortable and calm climate, and learn about the model.
2. Pay special attention to the seating and composition of the room:
It’s safer to use stools in this pose unless you specifically choose to use seats. They’re less intimidating and don’t always appear in photos. They often prevent the model from slouching, which is never flattering in a portrait.
When photographing two individuals (for example, an engagement or siblings portrait), be careful when seating and posing the subjects. In a certain pose, the models’ heads might line up equally if their heights are the same. It’s possible that this straight line would seem unnatural. Instead, for a flowing portrait, position one subject higher than the other.
Consider where the frame will begin and end as you arrange the model(s). What will you include in the shot and what will you leave out? Take special note of the models’ arms, legs, hands, feet, and necks. It’s not a good idea to cut off appendages at the joints. You don’t want the model’s hands and feet in the picture, but you also don’t want her ankles, wrists, elbows, or knees cut off. The model would appear odd with these cut-off points.
Finally, don’t feel obligated to make your models sit or be arranged in frozen poses. Movement can be beneficial! Even in the studio, movement can add to the naturalness and fun of the pictures. Posed portraits are useful in some cases, but they don’t always look natural, particularly if your model is a fast-moving individual. Movement can help you capture these models’ personalities better by relaxing them.
3. Pick flattering poses and angles, especially for close-ups:
Digital photography has made creating flattering close-up images simpler than ever before. However, you can’t rely on your camera or computer to do anything for you. For close-up portraits, the framing and angles you choose are just as important.
First and foremost, keep your gaze fixed on the model’s eyes. “The eyes are the portals to the soul,” as the saying goes. Pay attention to the eyes in a close-up to catch the subject’s “soul” or personality. Even if the rest of the picture is in soft focus, the eyes should still be sharp and in focus.
Shoot from a flattering angle to minimise any information that your model may be self-conscious about. For eg, if you shoot with the camera slightly higher than the model’s line of sight, the picture would be more flattering. This angle will slim the face and make the nose look more appealing.
Try lowering the camera slightly and making the individual elevate their chin very slightly for models with bald heads. This angle prevents glare or light bounce, which would draw attention to the bald head.
Changing the model’s pose or the angle may also help to hide prominent ears. When planning the shot, avoid any angle or position in which the subject is directly facing the camera. Similarly, any shot with the model turned in profile should be avoided if the model has a prominent nose. Rather, make them face the camera directly.
Depending on the perspective, glasses can make a person look attractive or strange in a portrait. Any light reflection on the lenses will block out the model’s eyes, which is a look you want to avoid. You can avoid this reflection by asking the model to slightly lower their jaw. This simple adjustment will hold reflections off the glass and will go unnoticed in the final picture.
4. Aim for softness:
Softer portraits, on the whole, look healthier. While softness isn’t a hard and fast rule in portrait photography, it does work well when photographing women and children. Soft photos will conceal any distracting defects, skin flaws, or personality traits that your model would like to hide. Older models, for example, can appreciate how the soft portrait hides their wrinkles.
Of course, there is such a thing as too much softness. Consider your model’s interests, emerging trends, and your photography portfolio. Finally, the picture should represent your personality and photography style. Otherwise, you risk losing your distinct viewpoint or interest in portrait photography.
Experimenting with softness is simple in any situation. For starters, choose images that are slightly further away (e.g., from the waist up) so that the subject’s skin is less in focus. This phase isn’t required–close-ups work with softness just as well–but you might be less frustrated if you start with some distance.
Then, at eye level, position the main lighting. This angle helps to prevent shadows that accentuate rather than hide skin defects or wrinkles.
Finally, mount diffusers to flashes and lighting to give the picture a softer overall effect. However, keep your gaze fixed on the model’s eyes. After all, their eyes are still their souls–and sometimes their most beautiful feature.
5. Draw attention to your jawlines:
Use the angle and lighting to draw attention to the jawline in men. It’s as simple as extending the models’ necks and experimenting with lighting to use the shadows. Then, to find the most flattering look, stretch the head up or down.
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