Photography: Posing tips – the leaning pose
Even when you’re photographing a bride as graceful as Patricia, there’s still a need to adjust and guide the pose. I liked the roughness and color of this gate, and I also knew the background would be an out-of-focus mush behind her.
When you ask someone to lean against something, they tend to fall back onto the wall or object, with both shoulders and their back flat agains the surface.
My starting point with this pose, is that I show what I want. Remember, people don’t usually know what you’re after, and they most definitely don’t know the composition you’re getting. So I like to get in there and physically show the pose. (And yes, she did laugh at me doing that.)
Then it’s series of gentle verbal nudgings to where the photograph will look good:
– roll against your (left) shoulder towards me,
– separate your (right) shoulder away from the wall,
– lean a tiny bit towards me,
– pop your knee out,
– use your hand to shape your body / leg / arm.
– drop your chin / lift your chin.
And with that, I’ve finessed the leaning pose that I showed to my subject.
With the leaning pose, those are my general instructions, and it usually gets us to where the photograph will look good! I don’t rigidly pose, but use a few verbal instructions to finesse the pose. In that sense, the way that I pose someone is fairly “loose”, and helps keep the momentum of the photo session going, because we don’t get stuck in the minutiae of every limb’s every position. We get to a point where “yes, this looks great!”, and then we move forward to the next place. The momentum is also important.
(This photo is from Patricia and Erwin’s wedding, where I was the 2nd photographer for JC Carley.)
Camera settings & equipment used
- 1/200 @ f/4 @ 250 ISO …. on-camera TTL fill flash @ -3 FEC
- Nikon D4
- Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S VR II / Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
- Nikon SB-910 Speedlight / Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite
- Photographing couples – Posing and composition (Desha & Kyle)
- Tips on posing – asymmetry (Justine & Kyle)
- Posing normal, everyday people for portraits
- The next step – going beyond just posing people
- Posing tip – check the wrists and hands (model: Anelisa)
- more articles on Posing
- more articles on Wedding Photography
- New Jersey wedding photographer
11 Comments, Add Your Own
1Jennifer Lynch says
Thanks Neil, what was the effect from the Photoshop plug-ins you used? How did it change this photo?
2Neil vN says
Here is the straight-from-edited-RAW vs post-processed image. This includes a Photoshop filter and the other retouching I do (which includes Portraiture & Shine-Off, as mentioned in that linked article.)
Great pose and shot, and I have the perfect setting for a wedding this coming weekend with some rustic iron as a prop like this.
Neil, great insights as always. Your sense of composition governs the success coupled with your communication. Thanks.
Thank you very much, this is helpful for me. I like your posing tips – they add perfectly to the technical explanations.
6Patti Hale says
Great article, Neil. Posing, lighting, expression all combined so well to create this wonderful portrait. Thanks for sharing!
as for posing, do you have few favourite poses for your brides/grooms/couples or do you still searching for new ones and learn ?
8Dustin Hoang says
I believe you are using either Photoshop or Lightroom. Do you have any experience with Aperture ? Would you or anyone on this forum recommend Aperture ?
But I can’t find good plugins for Aperture that are for Photoshop…
I was thinking, did you had an experience with “rock’n’roll” style couple, who don’t like To pose ?
10Ed Gill says
Neil, nice quick posing insight. Now with a stick diagram you could patent this before Amazon does :).
11Ruchel Pascual says
Very nice tip. Thanks for sharing.