book review: Roberto Valenzuela – Picture Perfect Posing
I’ve noticed that articles on Tangents which deal with the topic of how to pose people, gets a lot of attention. Posing is a challenging topic for most photographers except the very best who seem to have an innate gift for it.
Books on posing tend to approach the topic as a list of suggestions – the kind of “1,000 poses” type books. Another alternative offered is flow posing where you maneuver a couple through a number of poses mechanically. Both of these approaches means you have to memorize poses by rote, instead of understanding why the poses work, or how to improve a pose.
This is where Roberto Valenzuela’s book excels. He teaches a system. The Picture Posing System he has developed breaks posing technique down into 15 segments which he then carefully analyzes to show why certain poses work. Instead of recalling exact poses and trying to fit them to the person you are photographing, posing now becomes a series of conscious decisions. And that is what Roberto’s book teaches you – that series of decisions.
Various segments discuss topics such as:
– weight distribution and its effect on posing;
– joints and 90 degree angles;
– hands and arms;
– posing with movement and expression.
- Roberto Valenzuela – Picture Perfect Posing – (softcover) – Amazon (USA)
- Roberto Valenzuela – Picture Perfect Posing – (softcover) – Amazon (UK)
The book is filled with gems of advice. Here’s an example: in the chapter on hands and arms, Roberto says exactly what pretty much any other photographer feels: “I found it hard to remember all of the hand / arm positions I had seen in magazine and billboard photographs. I would try to memorize every photo that inspired me, hoping I would be able to recall them during a shoot. After a while I ended up just as confused as when I first started, and all the combinations just blended together.”
Yup, I feel your pain!
Roberto breaks this specific problem down into a doable system:
1. One common denominator – free the waistline.
2. Three key execution concepts to always keep in mind.
3. Five ways in which the hands and arms can be used in context.
Now you might say that doesn’t sound inspiring. Fair enough. It just seems like more things to remember. But here’s how he explains it, and this is just one example of the many gems in this book:
The first of those three key execution concepts:
1. Only one hand / arm needs to be posed
While deciding on an appropriate position for your subject’s hands and arms, you won’t find it necessary to pose both arms. You certainly can, and in fact it is recommended. But as long as one hand is positioned with a purpose, the other is free to stray, or even better, the arm can simply hang by the torso, and the pose will not suffer for it. This is great news!
A lightbulb moment! Now, connect this with the sample photographs, and it suddenly makes sense and more simple. So, being able to break poses down in this way – or you will, build a pose up – the pressure is off you. You can do it.
That’s just one of the many gems in this book. There are 300 pages of this, liberally illustrated with photographs. So yes, I would really really recommend this book.