OK, so strike a pose I guess?
January 29, 2008 5:51 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find some good resources about modelling and directing models, for photographers?

I'm a self taught photographer, and have just landed myself a few shoots with a local street wear company, although I've realised one thing... I have no idea how to tell the models what I want, or actually I don't even know what would be a good pose for them to do. Occasionally I demonstrate myself what I think would be good, but would love some kind of guide or help understand what would be the best way to direct people. Resources on the web would be most appreciated but books will do as well.
posted by chrisbucks to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have a lighting setup? Lighting books have great tips on how to pose models. What sorts of models are you working with? Are they pros, semi-pros, or is it TFCD?

Photo.net is a great resource to pose questions. We use a tool called "pose cards" or something - little yellow cards with hundreds of poses on them that you can set out in a sequence.

Otherwise posing is really the model's job. A good model will know how to pose to bring out his/her best features.
posted by mamessner at 7:59 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

It just comes with experience. When I first started shooting people I would say something like, "Uhhhh go stand over there or something" and be totally unhelpful, but the more you get used to doing it the easier it gets to tell people what you want. One thing that has always helped me is to pre-visualize exactly what I want the image to look like before I start shooting, then I at least have a goal to work toward or a starting point (obviously you don't want to ignore what is actually going on and get too focused on your mental image, but starting with a blank slate just makes it awkward when you try to communicate what you need the model to do when you yourself aren't really sure).

Also, don't get too involved in the little details. Bring an assistant if you can and have them handle all the lighting and exposure so you can concentrate on the overall picture instead of worrying about what f/stop you're at. I wouldn't go as far as to memorize some kind of "standard" posing, but have a plan with a couple of shots worked out (sketch them on paper or something) before you show up.
posted by bradbane at 8:14 AM on January 29, 2008

imitate stuff that you like. I think that's all there is to it. You can look at similar things and even make a clip book and bring it with you. No shame in that. Better to cheat a little and make some good pictures. You are most likely not going to come up with something original on your first shoot. Or your 50th for that matter. Most things have been done. You need to learn the conventions.

I would check this guy out...a master of natural posing.

And watch this video...I've watched it many times.

And look at Annie Liebowitz's stuff. She's pretty amazing at doing that.

Working with pro-models is great. But often times on a lower budget shoot you are working with amateurs to one degree or another. Some of them will be really good to work with and others less so. You may have to give them a lot of direction or none at all.

Try not to be stressed out and trust your eyes.
posted by sully75 at 8:19 AM on January 29, 2008

also btw a lot of books on photography are written by d list photographers. So I would take anything they say with a grain of salt. There are no dogmatic rules with this stuff.

I'd definitely check out what the company has done before, and ask them if they like that and want to continue in that style, or want to do something different.

If you can draw, even stick figures...that can be helpful to sketch out some ideas.
posted by sully75 at 8:21 AM on January 29, 2008

As a photo editor in my previous life I had to do a number of portraits, and, like everything else I learned about photography, I self-taught my way through them. My first one had me sick with nervousness, and by the end they were my favorite part of the job to shoot.

The comments above state the truth: experience is the best bet. From experience, I would recommend these things.

- Check to see what type of image is required, and how much creative leeway you have. This is important: don't go off-the-wall if all they want is a headcut.

- If you can get an assistant, awesome. For my first shoot, I had someone who was good with cutting the tension do the talking.

- Know your lighting. This is something you CAN and SHOULD plan in advance. Start with how many lights/light sources you are going to have--worry about placing them later.

- Instead of looking up "how to pose models," simply look at the end result. Even though I worked on sports photos, I would browse any magazine with photo advertisements--fashion, newspapers, arts, you name it. Which leads me to say something else:

- While ripping off other photos 100% is not cool, feel free to borrow ideas. Everybody learns the same basic things in basic photo classes anyway, so it's not like the technique (unless it's something bizarre) is theirs to claim. Bad artists copy, great artists steal.

- Professional/aspiring models know the drill. They make a pose, the camera shutter snaps, and then they make another pose. Speak to them from your creative side, and have them fill the frame as you see fit--they should do what they're told, because you are the boss. I would not really consider asking them for advice unless some model has a personality best expressed when they act a certain way. Or maybe he/she does something really cute when they are not under the lens---despite all the planning, some of the best things come spontaneously.

Don't fret, and good luck. I think you'll have a great time, and I know you'll learn a ton.
posted by BenzeneChile at 6:33 PM on January 29, 2008

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