Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Breathe Thru Your Mouth...And Other Posing Tips

A lot of photographers like to advertise how they never pose their clients and all their photography sessions are natural.  Well that's all great for them but I think one of the advantages I can offer my client is that my sessions are very very posed!

My clients are paying me to make them look their absolute best and typically that just doesn't happen naturally.  It's a scary thing to be set in front of a camera and it's even scarier when you feel abandoned in front of it.  So many of my clients have said something like "Just tell me what to do." before we even begin the session.  Luckily I assure them quickly that I'll be in control the entire time and let them know exactly how to behave to achieve the most flattering looks.

I've learned thru the years that posing my clients actually takes a lot of skill and learning!  When I'm at a session there are a million things pulsing thru my brain at once....I'm concentrating on my lighting, my camera settings, the background...but then I have to set aside all those things and guide my client into a flattering pose that accentuates all the good stuff, and diminishes all the not-so-good stuff.  And I have to do this in a simple, easy-to-understand way so the client doesn't get confused and feel like they're doing something wrong...or worse, feel like they look stupid on camera!

The biggest trick to posing though is making it look unposed on camera.  After I finally get all the hands and arms and hips and everything else just where I want it, I have to get them to look fantastic and NOT self conscious right before I make that click.  I've learned so many great tips for achieving that so I wanted to share one that I use quite often for close-ups.  I call it the "Can you breathe thru your mouth?" tip.
Yes, I'm quite technical:)

I love to get great, dramatic close-ups of my models which usually means their mouths are closed with their lips together.  But sometimes that look can come across as too stiff or without any personality.  So I'll keep my model in the exact same pose but I'll ask them "Can you breathe thru your mouth?"

Almost every single time I ask that my model will open their lips just the slightest bit and their expression changes completely.  That's when I'll shoot.

I did it here...

And here...

It's not that it always produces a better photo or expression, just a different one.  Which means that both myself and the client have more options.  I like options.

Here's a few side-by-side comparisons of portraits taken with the closed mouths and then 2 seconds later after I've asked her to breathe thru her mouth.  Thanks to the lovely Shelby for being my model here...

Can you see the difference?  It's amazing how just the tiniest change in expression really changes the whole feel of the photo.

And another one...

I'd love to hear any of your favorite posing tips...or what do you find most frustrating about posing?  
My favorite resources for posing inspiration is Bambi Cantrell and Sue Bryce.  Check out their sites for fabulous tips!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Meet Abbi...High School Senior 2012

I've realized that I've never really blogged my sessions like most normal photographers do.  I don't do a lot  of things that normal photographers do but I've decided I should really take advantage of this internet thing to show off the fabulous people that I've gotten to know thru photography.  And I'd like to start with Abbi.

I met Abbi and her parents and sister a few years ago and her mom and I became instant friends when I worked with her for a day.  I was thrilled when I found out Abbi was interested in pursuing photography and she was the perfect choice for a summer assistant. 

Abbi is the girl that every mother hopes her daughter will grow up to be.  That was my very first impression of Abbi after spending just a few hours with her. 

As we were planning her Senior portrait session last fall I was thinking about how lucky I was to photograph this beautiful girl and how much fun we were going to have at her session.  And her portraits did turn out beautiful...

But her session ended up being about so much more than photos.  One week before her Senior shoot was scheduled Abbi's father died at their home, very unexpectedly from a heart attack.  The girl that seemed to have everything...a close Christian family, a smile always on her face, the perfect little had to experience one of life's worst devastations.

Abbi and her mother decided to go ahead with her Senior session just a week after the tragedy.  I was a little nervous about this but they were the ones helping me thru the session...they would discuss it when they wanted to and when they didn't we just enjoyed a beautiful teenage girl on a lovely fall evening.

This was her fathers' jacket and she included it wonderfully into her photos...

She also included fun stuff like an awesome dress and a great pair of shoes...

I've spent a lot of time with Abbi and her family since last fall and I can't express enough of how my first impression of her has only been confirmed again and again.  She's stood so strong on her faith and has continued to be an example to teenagers in everything she does.  I realize she's not perfect but her fantastic attitude and her sweet spirit have never wavered.  I'm just honored to have been a part of this time in her life.  

Abbi has ended up being my cover girl for a lot of my Senior marketing.  I've used her portrait on lots of my promo pieces and website and I can't wait to start using her fabulous album as one of my samples...

This may sound weird, but Abbi's experience has given me so much more respect for the service I provide.  When Abbi and her mother and her sister look back on those photos I took on a lovely fall evening, I believe they'll be seeing so much more than just pretty pictures. 

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