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After the popularity of “Posing Tips: Make your Subject Feel (& Look) like a Model” I decided to share some posing secrets for portraits that are not as obvious. There are a few mirco-movements that make a major impact when posing for portraits.

As always, make your subject comfortable and feel at ease. The first 10 shots or so in a session I rarely let them see. They are just a way for us to find a rhythm and connect with this strange object I keep pointing in their face. After those initial shots and established relationship, then you can start to employ some of these secrets for posing in portraits.

Note: This is the very first post where the images were taken from a free stock photo website. This is due to the fact that I do not have permission from all my subjects to share and blog about our sessions. However, all tips are mine and ones I use often. 

Secret #1 

Place the tongue to the roof of the mouth.

What it does: Creates a muscle tension/flex and lifts the chin skin up.

Area of Concern Addressed:  Double chin/lack of a defined jaw

Use When: Shooting profile views or 3/4 views

Secret #2

Part the Lips

What it does: Creates a sultry look or elongates the face

Area of Concern Addressed: None- only an added effect. Can be useful for those with especially round faces when paired with a upper angle.

Use When: Shooting close ups or during boudoir sessions

Secret #3

Angle the face

What it does: Creates structure and gives interest. Defines the jaw and intensifies the eyes. Universally flattering.

Area of Concern Addressed: Lazy eyes – this is the best trick for an individual who may have a lazy eye which is especially prominent in photos.  Angle the face and have them look in the direction of the lazy eye if possible. Shooting them straight on will not be flattering in most cases.

Use When: Shooting portraits or head shots

Secret #4

Hands on the waist (instead of the hips)

What it does: Creates a hourglass figure and gives the illusion of a smaller frame. Lifts the arms off the torso.

Area of Concern Addressed: Extra flowy clothes or a subject who has requested to look thinner (I get asked for this all the time).

Use When: Anytime you are tempted to say “Put your hand on your hips” . This will lift the arm from the torso which is good and flattering for how the camera picks up this part of the image, but it is not good for the size of the frame. Hands on the inner waist will cinch in the frame. This is also very helpful if your subject wore super flowy clothes since these have a tendency to drown your the form.

Secret #4

Lift the Collar Bone and Extend the Neck

What it does: Creates the illusion of a “thinner” look.

Area of Concern Addressed: None- only a effect (being thinner is desired by clients, but not something I think should ever be a “area of concern”)

Use When: Laughing photos or intense and serious photos (both will be intensified with this pose)

Secret #5

Cross your Ankles

What it does: Creates a point at the end of the frame and tilts the body slightly. Makes you appear taller.

Area of Concern: When two subjects are drastically different heights – have one subject cross ankles with one foot in front to appear taller.

Use When: Photographing couples or when using a wide lens (as those tend to make people look shorter and squatty)

 

That is all for now! Give it a shot and tell me how it goes. Or better yet, if you have some of your own secrets for posing, comment below.  Thank you all!

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Posing tips. It is not natural to everyone and your job is to make your subject feel good and look good. Even if you are not shooting professionally, you will inevitably be asked to take someones photo because you are “the photographer of the group.”. Here are my top posing tips that will keep the photos polished and have your subjects feeling pretty fantastic about themselves.

For these tips I am using the photos from a recent photo shoot with my sister. A performer and musician she needed some head shots and senior portraits. This was a mix of the traditional and fun.

1. Place the Hands Intentionally

Bring the hands towards the face or place them in the hair. Whatever you do, do not let them hang there. Give specific instructions for where they go. My lines for hands in the past have been the following:

  • Pretend like you are playing with your earing
  • Run your hands through your hair
  • Feel the texture of _________ (in this case the scarf)
  • Hands in your pockets- thumbs out like you are “Chillin”
  • Gently touch your fingers to your lips
  • Cross your arms (more masculine look)
  • Lay their hands on a rail (make sure there is not a intense grip)
  • Hands on waist (not hips)

Here are some NEVER’s for hand placement:

  • Over the crotch
  • Typically any “praying hands” look not so great
  • Hanging at the sides
  • Fists (unless they are a MMA Fighter)
  • “Just do what feels natural”

2. It is all about the Shoulders

I rarely will shoot the shoulder straight on- even when it is a man. A 3/4 approach is always more flattering.

Here are some phrases I used to position for the shoulders in addition to some taps and gentle movements:

  • Drop your shoulder facing me
  • Look towards your shoulder (now up)
  • Take a deep breath (lift shoulders with them) and drop
  • Shoulders back
  • Lift your hands to the sky and have them bring back behind them (BEFORE shooting)- this is good for the especially humpback prone

3. To Smile or Not Smile

Have your subject constantly switch between smiling with teeth, being serious and no teeth. Don’t forget to capture the candid in between moments too.

For a sultry look, have your subject breathe out of the mouth. A slight part also tends to elongate the face.

I typically carry some new chapstick or Vaseline with me in the case of dry lips since that tends to be a pain to touch up and remove from photos. Also – ALWAYS tell your client or subject when something is in their teeth. You must.

4. Catch the Candid

Catch those in between moments. Posing can be exhausting and sometime subjects get in their heads or build anxiety.

Take breaks, move locations or change your set. Crack some jokes and have a chat. They will let loose and you can get some genuine smiles. Who doesn’t love that?

Candid are my favorite, but only occasionally are my subjects favorite. So do not feel disheartened if they prefer the posed and rehearsed shots.

 

5. Where do I Look?

Eyes. The window to the soul right? Let’s make sure you capture them in a multitude of ways. Ask you subject to look in different directions. Do not get the whites of the eyes- pay attention to where the Iris is and where your camera is pointing.

Give direction. Subject ask often “Do I look at you?” Tell them before they even ask.

Phrases I use for direction:

  • Look just over my shoulder (specify right or left)
  • Look down at your shoe with your eyes (keep their head the same)
  • Look down and on the count of three look up right into the camera (Have your camera ready to snap)
  • Blink, Blink, Blink and Open
  • Smile with your eyes (They always smile with everything and its cute)
  • Pose them, and keep posing them.

6. Play with the Hair

Move it over one shoulder, all behind. Use part of it to cover their face.

Have them play with their own hair. If you want a really dramatic look start asking them to flip and then run it through Photoshop like I did for fun.

Even if you are shooting an individual with shorter hair having the subject interact with their hair can be fun and change up the shoot.

7. Move Around and Pay Attention

Move between close ups and far away. Try not to have them doing the same thing for long periods of time.

Make sure you keep the background simple. Pay attention that it is not cutting off your subject or distracting from them. Also, just because you blurred the background does not mean it is no longer distracting, the colors can be too.

For more posing tips check out How to Take a Better Portrait with your Phone.

 

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I thought it was high time to post another photo project. This is a favorite of mine and has a primary focus on training your eye. Making the mundane magical is exactly what artists do regularly. This project works on honing that skill.

First you will need to select a mundane object. Mundane simply means everyday or ordinary. Nothing special or particularly defining of this object. I will also say that the smaller the object, the more flexibility you have with your photographs.

Here are some ideas for mundane objects:

  • Army Man/ Legos
  • Banana/ Apple
  • Fork/Spoon
  • Soap/ Nail Clippers
  • Cup of tea or coffee
  • Most random item you carry with you in your backpack or purse

Remember simple is a good place to start and will offer you many options.

Challenge:

Choose a mundane object and focus at least 30-40 images on this one object. You must make your object look like the following:

  • Light
  • Heavy
  • Beautiful
  • Ugly
  • Tall
  • Micro-Small
  • Soft
  • Hard

Remember these words can have different interpretations for different people. That is the fun part! 

After you select your object, consider setting up a home studio of sorts. You will need:

  • Light- any type of house lamp or position you studio by the window
  • A Surface to Shoot on- Choose something with texture or pattern like a stump or bubble wrap
  • Background- Find a simple plain background- this could be a sheet, metal, foam core etc
  • Reflector – Grab a piece of white foam core or even white paper to pop the light back onto the subject from the window.
  • Objects and Items – Have some plants or other items to highlight your object

Here is my 2 Minute Home Studio when I need to shoot a product or item quickly.

Things to Think About

These are some suggestions to help you get the creative juices flowing.

  • Lighting- How can you use this to create drama and emphasis (maybe backlight it ?)
  • Shadows- the shadow of the object can also make a photo
  • POV – Point of View and angles can make a huge difference in the size of your item
  • Fishing Line- Consider a way to stage your object and have it suspended
  • Composition- Use the Rule of Thirds and make sure to check out the 8 Basic Composition Styles to help you.
  • Destroy it- if you have multiple, manipulate the form and break it apart
  • Get Close Up– Use a macro lens and focus on texture
  • Motion– drop it, throw it, or slowly drag it to capture the motion.

Results:

Spending this much time with one subject will be beneficial. It will be a challenge to force yourself to look at something for a long period of time. Whenever I do this photo project I am always challenged and inspired at the same time. Let me know how it goes! I would love to see your images, so make sure to tag me on Instagram or drop a link below.

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Hello friends! I am always shuffling through creative apps on my phone, but have a found a few keepers too. As a photographer it is important to switch it up and try new things. It should be only natural as we evolved as artists.

In addition to this, as a phone photographer having a system in place to organize creative content is also important. Most of us do not have multiple phone and use our devices for our work and daily lives as well. I have a few favorite habits and apps that help me keep all of this in check and keep my phone functional.

Watch the video below to see what is on my phone at this very moment and how I stay organized.

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Photographic images are containers for information. They tell a story. Or at least they should right? We are conditioned to expect images to talk about something so when they offer very little and are in fact abstract what does this mean? Abstract photography evolved out of frustration, but turned out to be one of the best things I ever investigated.

This talk investigates my path to the abstract photograph and the ideas behind that slur of information. On here and on Instagram I rarely share this portion of my work. I save this for my fine art that resides on my artists website.  However, I am still making this work and felt it could be appropriate to share my Ted Talk here as well.

If you struggle to understand the abstract or are drawn to creating the abstract this talk gives insight into both as well as my journey with photography.

As always, I welcome your ideas and commentary on abstraction and the photograph.

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Hello Fellow Photographers! In photography you have certain controls within the camera that allow for “effects”, mood, and image interest. Today let’s explore the basic camera controls, what they do, and how you can control these on your phone camera.

Often when I capture a interesting shot, I am asked what I used to take the image. As if somehow my gear was doing all of the work. Trust me, you can go buy the newest mirrorless camera on the market or a top of the line DSLR and that does not mean you will be able to make the same capture or quality of capture.

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An Early Start to the Pinhole

A Pinhole camera is any light tight container with an aperture (hole) and a shutter (something to cover the hole.

Interest in perspective and optics during the Renaissance is what led to the first necessary discovery for the pinhole camera: the camera obscura. Leonardo De Vinci described the camera obscura very clearly as early as the 16th century. (Alternative Processes)

A camera obscura is a dark chamber, container or room with a singular entry point of light. Once your eyes have adjusted, the outside will appear on the wall upside down. You can see how this would  be useful for artists to trace and have an accurate perspective.

Create a camera obscura right now out of your own room!

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While staying inspired has been challenging for me recently, I can say that the easiest subject to photograph is my home. The people and things in this space used to receive my neglect instead of attention. However, now with my new minimalism effort taking effect, I have started to notice and engage with the beauty around the place I inhabit.

I have been on a path of both minimalism and mindfulness in every aspect of my life. Setting intentions and turning a reflective eye on myself, my surroundings and those who I feel closest too has also changed the way I look at things. In turn this has changed the subjects in my photographs.

Going out to find the perfect photograph will always be a part of my nature. After all, I loved making my “On the Road” video and plan for many more. But in this post I would like to encourage you to take some more time in examining the space you exist in on a daily basis.

Where Does the Light Come From?

 

Objects that Mean Something…

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