In episode #72 of Oh Shoot!, Cassidy Lynne chats all about her approach to posing! This episode covers posing versus prompting, how to effectively use movement, and posing things you should keep an eye out for when shooting.
My Posing Approach: Prompting VS. Posing
I do a mix of posing and prompting and I think you need to have a healthy balance of both to get the best results! When you are prompting a couple or your subject, you are giving them a general direction and giving them room to creatively express themself and show their natural faces. When you pose, you’re telling people what to do with their hands, their faces, and you’re controlling every single aspect of it.
I like to do a mix of both because giving someone no direction isn’t always the best solution when you prompt. I think posing helps you with achieve the look you’re going for, but prompting helps it feel candid and natural.
For example, for a walking prompt, I might say, “Walk away from me. Then walk towards me, swing your arms, and look at each other and smile.” So I’m telling the couple what to do, but I’m giving them room to do different options so it doesn’t feel as posed. When you prompt, you do this to get movement based photos and more candid reactions.
When it comes to posing, you should pose when you’re getting more classic shots. For example, the classic “put your arms around each other, look at me and smile.”
The first part of my sessions are usually more posed to get the classic shots I need. I’ll use the last half of my session to do more fun, prompting movements because both of those things are important for my style.
Posing Takes Time
You can’t get better at posing if you never try it. As you pose clients more frequently, the more natural it becomes. If you’re feeling discouraged about posing, like you forget a pose or aren’t sure what pose to do next, remember it takes time to get good at it. Frequency and practice will help you! The less you pick up your camera the more you’re hurting yourself. Keep posing, do it often and try different poses and techniques. See what sticks, what you like, and take mental notes of those things. Like anything it takes time to become an expert!
Think about the body position of your subject or couples.
- What direction your subjects are facing.
- THEN, focus on faces & hands.
When thinking of body position, I’m thinking of how many different poses and variations I can get within this one body position and direction. For example, if I’m having my couple turn in and face each other, I can do 20 different variations of hands and faces. I can have my couple put their hands around each other’s waists and smile at me. I can have them move their hands around, play with their hands, bump noses, kiss up and down each other’s face, all while they’re facing each other.
I am a big fan of the 4 body positions:
- Facing me.
- Facing each other.
- Both facing me, but one person slightly behind.
- Back to Back.
Candid Feeling Photos
The way I like to get candid feeling photos is by giving people a sequence of events to do over and over. Baylee Dennis talked about this on episode #13 of Oh Shoot!. She basically said that she’ll give people a ton of tasks to do when it comes to prompting because it feels really candid and it gives them a chance to really make it their own. Listen to our episode together for more!
Pinterest is Hurting Your Creativity with Posing
Don’t expect to be perfectly inspired by scrolling on Pinterest before a session. That is the LEAST creative thing you can do for your brain. When you use it as a template for your session, that’s when you have issues with creativity. I love using Pinterest to give me ideas for body positions and fun things to do at the location I’m shooting at. Like beach or mountain engagement photos, where I can see what people have done before and it sparks ideas for me.
But it’s when you’re screenshotting Pinterest photos and pulling up those photos during a session that it’s hurting your creativity and your posing in the long run. You’re not allowing yourself to grow and think for yourself, you’re allowing someone else to think for you. I would challenge you to use Pinterest wisely and with discernment. The more you rely on it, the less you’ll grow as a photographer who can pose.
You want to create a natural feel with your posing, so a lot of the photos we like on Pinterest are the ones that feel really candid. They feel candid because they’re specific to that moment and couple. Trying to recreate someone’s candid, emotional moment is not how it works.
You need to have those candid, emotional moments within your session that are unique to that couple. It’s like trying to copy and paste someone’s relationship. Pinterest is not the best solution when it comes to posing, so use it carefully.
Know Your Poses & Do the Poses You like Frequently.
If you know what works when it comes to posing, why change it? I like to approach posing by doing my classic, signature poses at the beginning and then I’ll do movement stuff after or a good mix of both. I like to do things that work at the beginning, so I know I got the shots I need if nothing else works during this session. I know that I could leave the session and be perfectly content with the photos that I got. So with extra time I’m going to do creative poses because that’s where you start to see your artistic side come out and have fun with it.
Remember every person and client is different, so their poses shouldn’t be the same either.
Some clients might be better at the serious, stoic faces and others might be better at laughing, happy candids. Obviously you want to try a mix of both! Do what works best for your client and pose however the client looks the most comfortable.
People Want Classic Poses & Photos
It’s not bad to do classic poses because most people want that. You need some classic photos! That’s what mom and grandma want to print and hang on their wall. Have one or two classic photos you get at the start of every session. Check the box of one classic wedding photo and then you can get more into your style. At the end of the day, the classic photos are important.
Like I always say, classic poses at the beginning and then creative poses afterwards.
I want to leave this episode by challenging you with this thought:
Try to do the same 5 poses at every session ( for example walking, facing each other, prom pose, back to back, piggy back, etc.) and try to get at least 10 unique shots per pose (wide shot, landscape, close up, his face, her face, etc.), that’s 50 photos already. Then you spend the rest of the session doing creative stuff!
I loved my podcast interview with Laurken Kendall, episode #55, because she directs her sessions like a movie. She’ll tell people to do the same thing over and over again and get different angles. She does the same thing over and over and redoes it so she can get the photos she wants. Definitely listen to that episode to learn about her approach!
At the end of the day, as I’m looking through my camera, I’m going to see what I think the next thing should naturally be. When you’re using movement poses it feels like there naturally are next steps to poses like walking then into a spin, into a bear hug and that turns into kisses on the face. It’s just a natural flow and as you do it more, you’ll continue to grow and get better at posing and prompting during your sessions!
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