written by: Angelique de la Morreaux•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 5/22/2011
Capture that secret smile a couple share or the bond of love within a family as you learn to vary your poses and shots when taking photographs of people. Learn to transition from standard poses into different ones that catch the shot that define the people you photograph.
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Once you start taking more pictures you quickly learn that although you may prefer a natural picture, using different poses when photographing people tends to work best. This is because people are not sure how to stand or sit while having their pictures taken and so they look to you for guidance. Learn several different standard poses to use while you take your photographs of people before you transition into unexpected ones. This allows your photo shoot to move along smoothly as you instruct your clients on the different poses.
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Follow the standard poses of couples, such as she sits on the chair with him in back or the two stand with her in front and slightly to his side. But, as the shoot progresses, try a different pose when photographing people who are couples. Place the chair between them and have him hold the chair out from a table for her to indicate his chivalry and manners. Shoot a picture of him giving her a piggy back ride with her head leaning over looking up at his to indicate playfulness and zoom in to capture secret smiles and eye contact between them. Create a steamy photograph with the couple wrapped in a samba embrace rather than just holding each other with her in front. Incorporating different poses when photographing people brings emotion into your pictures as it removes them from the mundane into the exotic.
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Family photograph poses are typically parents seated with children grouped around them However you can create variety in your picture if you choose different poses when photographing. People arranged off center or in a half circle add interest to the shot. Pose your family picture with the parents holding the child lengthwise between them facing the camera, and if there are other children have them kneel below and look like they are pushing up from the bottom. Not only will you capture many natural shots and smiles as the family gets into and out of the pose, but you may catch the family dynamics in these unposed pictures, so keep the camera set to multiple and zoom in for close ups.
Instruct the family on different poses as you take the picture. Have Dad stand in the front and the children peak out from behind his back as he turns toward Mom and she looks on or have a child sit on Dad’s shoulders as he wraps his arms around Mom’s waist as she stands a little off to the center of Dad. Pose Mom reading a book to the children, either on her lap or seated around her, with Dad looking down toward her just behind the chair. And ask her to look up at Dad and zoom in for the smile.
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Select different poses when photographing people in groups. Vary the angles and lighting as you incorporate props into the shots. Rather than follow the traditional tall people in back and shorter ones in the front approach, for a group on steps choose to put the smaller people in the back as the step elevates them. Pose the smaller people leaning over the taller one and place their heads on the taller persons shoulder as they wrap their arms around them or have them tilt forward and place their hands on one of their shouldiers. The advantage to this shot is it allows the taller person to become the focal point of the shot, rather than always being the head in a group shot, plus showcases the relationships between the subjects. Many times this shot gets a natural smile and eye contact between the group if you can shoot the picture and instruct the pose simultaneously.
Arrange the group around an item, such as a fountain. Pose the men sitting on the bench surrounding the fountain and the woman leaning slightly forward toward them, which automatically creates an intimate photograph and accentuates a womans curves. Have the men splash water toward the woman and photograph the natural response. Or, pose the group between a set of trees with some of the group leaning against the tree and children in low branches or playing on the ground to add interest in all areas of your photograph.
Different poses when photographing people indoors includes arranging the group around a table. Seat the larger persons as you pose their children to the side of the and the taller partner behind them. Alternate the sex of the seated person and arrange the heights of the back row from tall to small. Shoot the photographs from both sides, rather than just the front to add interest to the shot. Advantages to this shot is the unexpectness of the pose, the comfort of the larger person about the picture, and the relationship shown in the photo at a glance.