When photographing your non-model friends, they can feel a bit awkward and not know what to do. This is why it’s important that you know what to do and how to help them look and feel their best. Photographer Sheldon Evans shares some guidelines for directing your friends so they pose almost like professional models. And who knows, some of them might even turn pro after you take photos of them.
Pose, then build
If your friend isn’t a professional model, it’s up to you to direct them how to pose and what to do. Sheldon shares a piece of advice that sounds great: explain the base pose, and then slowly build and add to it. For example, have your model cross their arms and take shots. From there on, they can raise on hand up to their face, then lower the other hand… This way you can get several different poses that were all built from the initial one.
Sheldon also shares a good way of directing where your model should look. Point to the objects you want them to look at rather than using vocal commands only. If you say “look left” or “look right” the chances are that they’ll turn their head too much. Pointing at objects with your finger is more precise.
As Sheldon explains, in everyday life we “use hands as tools, not as props.” This is why people who aren’t models often don’t know what to do with their hands while posing. To solve this, give your model something to hold or an object to interact with. It can be flowers or a mug, or in the open space, it can be a bench, a wall, or a street lamp.
Actions and emotions
If your subject is feeling uncomfortable, it’s likely to show in the photos. To help them relax, let them jump, laugh, shake their head and act goofy. Later on, instead of directing them how to pose, you can give them a certain emotion or situation to act out. This way they will get into the “role” and pose more naturally.
You can also try flow posing – have your subject change from one pose to the other and shoot throughout the entire change.
It’s important to communicate clearly, have patience and be supportive. Your model doesn’t know if they’re doing things right unless you tell them. Don’t criticize them, but go with the positive reinforcement. This will make them feel more secure and relaxed.
Sheldon reminds you not to worry if the first couple of shots are not as good as you’d like them to be. Use them just as a warm-up, to help your model relax and start feeling comfortable in front of the camera.
Other talking to your model, use visual cues. Act out the pose you want them to take, it’s sometimes much easier than explaining it. Also, it can help them feel relaxed if you start posing and get a bit goofy. : )
It can also help if you send your models a couple of photos in advance. This way they can see what you’re expecting from them and they can practice the poses before the photo shoot.
Finally, if you’re photographing non-model friends, let them wear the clothes in which they feel good. A person can feel very uncomfortable if they’re wearing something new, especially if they don’t know how they look in it. You can meet up with your friends and discuss the outfits together, so you’ll find the ideal solution.
Since I only photograph my friends (and only one of them used to be a model), I always find tips like this pretty useful. I’ve learned something new that can help me to pose both male and female friends without having them feel uncomfortable. I hope you’ve picked up a couple of new tricks too. And if you have some of your own tips to share, feel free to drop them in the comments below.
[HOW TO POSE YOUR FRIENDS LIKE MODELS – Portrait Photography Tutorial | Sheldon Evans]