One of the biggest challenges with working with clients who aren't models is posing. A lot of the clients I work with aren't naturally comfortable in front of a camera or even with moving their bodies in ways that are appealing to the eye within an image. I recently had a session with Allie, who is an awesome barista and an aspiring boutique owner! She had zero modeling experience, and yet we got some amazing images from her session! I get a lot of questions from young photographers about posing and while I most certainly don't have all the answers, I wanted to share 3 quick tips I use when working with clients who don't have any modeling experience.
TIP #1 - SIT YOUR CLIENT DOWN
Sitting is just a more comfortable position for subjects. They tend to be more relaxed, which leads to more natural looking poses and cuts down on some of the awkwardness you'll find with standing poses.
With a sitting pose, their lower half is resting on the ground, so they're not overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to pose that part of their body and they can focus more on being relaxed and posing their face and hands. I always tell my clients to just sit how they're most comfortable and then I reposition them from there. This first picture I had Allie sit on a set of stairs we found in Downtown Davenport that was pretty dark. I positioned her on the first stair with her back to the wall, if it were a guy I may have had him sit on the first stair with his back to the door leaning forward, because that's a more masculine pose, but I wanted Allie to me more feminine, so I had her with her back to the wall. I simply asked her to turn her face towards the natural light and play with her hair and boom, we have this image! Very natural. Very easy.
This second pose, was another simple and easy pose. I had Allie sit down in the middle of the sidewalk and cross her legs. I always make sure to have girls cross their legs as it just comes across more appropriate in the image. This was the natural position she chose. I positioned her hands in her lap and just instructed her on the position of her head and shoulders and that was it! If you have a client who is uncomfortable and just needs to get warmed up with their posing, sit them down and make it easier and more comfortable for them and you will be guaranteed to capture some great images!
TIP #2 - POSE THEIR HANDS
With every session I'm always giving my clients natural ideas of what to do with their hands. And what I mean by natural, is things that they do normally throughout the day. Like, for girls one of the easiest and most captivating things, is to have them play with their hair. Have them run their hand through it. Have them twirl it. Have them throw it around. Hold it up in a pony tail. There's a lot of options and it really adds a lot to a photo, especially if you're going for a more editorial style like I do. With guys, I have them adjust their color, adjust their sleeves, run their hands through their hair, grab the back of their neck. Other things you can do to pose your client's hands are to have them put their hands in their pockets, adjust their clothes like the button of their shirt or the opening of a jacket or button up shirt. Have them grab their other arm or even just fidget with their hands like they're washing their hands. Experiment! Whatever you can do to make your client look the most native and natural will lead to the most captivating images!
TIP #3 - GIVE FEEDBACK!
Give your client feedback. Coach them through moving their body and direct them. Learn how to illustrate the look you want on your client's face or the way you want them to lean on the wall etc... I will have photos on my phone illustrating what I want and I'll show them to my client. Also, give them positive feedback! When they nail a pose and you capture it, let them know! "Oh yeah!", "that's money", "great job!", "oh many you're doing great!", "keep it up". Just those little sayings can really encourage your client and get them to relax and open up and all of sudden they start free styling, and posing themselves with some attitude! I also show them images from the back of my camera. Once they see themselves in an image, it completely changes their perspective and they become more confident in themselves and what they're doing. It also helps them to visualize better ways to position their bodies. Have conversations with your client. Tell jokes and try to get them to laugh. I hate pictures where you have the client smile. It's just not authentic. I make my client laugh and then capture those images. They're so much more natural!! This way you're capturing who they are!! If you're not a funny person, learn. The experience piece of portrait photography is just as important as the product piece of portrait photography. What's going to set you apart is the experience your clients have with you, not just the images you produce.