Photo Tip Tuesday: Posing

While I initially planned to talk more about tripod use today since I had to travel to Kansas before I could prepare that post I'm talking about posing instead. I'm 5'1", I've never had illusions of being a model, so personally I try to keep things as natural as possible. I don't want to look like someone from ANTM trying to look fierce, but rather I want to look natural and as candid as possible. I tend to keep my body language similar to what it is in real life; I move around a little, I play with my hair, if I have a good full-skirt I like to spin. Despite my non-modeliness posing tips is actually a frequent question I receive--I guess it is because models know how to look comfortable and natural in front of the camera and the rest of us are still figuring it out!

Find a signature pose: One of my favorite poses has me running my hands through my hair--this is actually a natural occurrence. As I bend to look at my pictures and adjust my tripod my hair tends to fall forward and into my face, once the camera is set up and I trot away to pose I usually get caught pushing my hair back in my first few shots. I rather like the organic look of that pose, so now I hold it for pictures. My advice isn't mimic this pose, but rather figure out something similar that you naturally do and like the look of and refine it. I naturally assume this pose as I start pictures, but I now take more care to stand up straight (good posture is good!) and look toward the camera while pushing my hair back. Try to be more observant of how you naturally stand when hanging out with friends and then try to repeat that stance in front of a camera. Looking awkward in front of a camera is usually stiffness due to unnatural positions--you don't normally stand with one hand on the hip, elbow out, grinning from ear-to-ear so no wonder it doesn't look "right" on you in a picture.
Use props: If you're really uncomfortable in front of the camera then props come in handy--bring along your favorite book and find a seat to browse it while the camera snaps away. There are natural props you always have with you to occupy your hands: your hands look natural and fine in your pockets, or you can cross your arms, play with the hem of a dress, even hold your purse in front of you or to the side, etc. My favorite props are my collection of vintage cameras; it means I take them out of the house and sometimes find something to capture on film. A prop like a camera keeps your hands busy and it can help you hide your face if you're feeling self-conscious that way; books have the same benefits and mean you'll always have something ready to read when you get bored (if you don't already carry one in your purse!).

Don't forget to move around: As I stated above one my signature poses has been the result of moving from behind the camera to being in front of it--a lot of good poses come not from striking a pose but rather moving around almost randomly. Some twirling shots will be awkward and make it look as if your legs are on backwards, while others will get the perfect skirt flair, hair flip, half-smile, normal leg position you seek--you just have to keep spinning. Movement leading to a variety of use-able poses also gives your set of images variety; no one needs to see you head-to-toe facing the camera with the same body language and expression 5 times in a row, one picture like that will suffice. Moving around allows you to show off more angles of your outfit, instead of only straight on shots people can see what an outfit looks like from the side or even the back of your dress which could have interesting details that otherwise would be missed. Even within one pose you can change the tilt of your head and facial expression; minor changes can make a big difference too. Example: even when I'm just trying to do a closer headshot I'm still moving my head and hands around.

You can find my previous photo tips (on going manual and adjusting your settings when you're shooting yourself) here.