80/20 rule: 80% of the session is mental (verbal and nonverbal. Master Posing Guide for Portrait Photographers 5. I set out to discover what it was that bothered . Master Posing Guide for Portrait Photographers: A Complete Guide to Posing Singles, Couples and Groups. Read more · Master Posing Guide for Portrait. Master Posing Guide for Portrait Photographers: A Complete Guide to Posing Singles, Couples and Groups. Home · Master Posing Guide for Portrait.

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Master Posing Guide for Wedding Photographers Bill Hurter Amherst Media .. of the posing rules, the great portrait and wedding photographers of today have. Master Posing Guide For Portrait Photographers. Master Posing Guide For Portrait Photographers. Pictu R E Pe R F Ect Posing - You could download guide master posing guide for portrait photographers a PDF Lightning 50 Lighting Setups for Portrait Photographers Easy to.

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Free Camera Craft Cheat Sheet Get your free camera craft cheat sheet so you always have the information you need when you're out shooting! The pose turns the bride away from the light so that the frontal plane of the face is not lit—an unusual twist to the pose. Many pros use the veil as a compositional element in portraits. Photographing the bride through her veil creates a lovely image.

In this portrait by Marcus Bell, the image was made high key by overexposing and underprinting. It is beautiful by virtue of the image details it eliminates. The Veil.

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Make sure to get some close-ups of the bride through her veil. It acts like a diffuser and produces romantic, beautiful results. To do this, lightly stretch the veil so that the corners slant down toward the lower corners of the portrait. Subconsciously, they shorten their noses, imagine they have more hair than they really do, and in short, pretend they are better looking than they really are.

A good portrait artist knows this and knows how to reflect the same level of idealization in portraits of the subject. As a matter of procedure, the photographer analyzes the face and body and makes mental notes as to how best to light, pose, and compose the subject to produce a flattering likeness.

Because they are always shooting under pressure, wedding photographers must master these techniques to such a degree that they become second nature. Camera Height and Perspective Camera Height. When photographing people with average features, there are a few general rules that govern camera height. These rules will produce normal perspective with average people. In each case, notice that the camera is at a height that divides the subject into two equal halves in the viewfinder.

Controlling the Perspective. As the camera is raised or lowered, the perspective the size relationship between parts of the photo changes. By controlling perspective, you can alter the physical traits of your subject. When the perfect camera height for a head-and-shoulders portrait is used, the face is well proportioned and oval—as is shown here.

Conversely, if you lower the camera, you reduce the size of the head and enlarge the size of the legs and thighs.

If you find that after you make a camera-height adjustment for a desired effect there is no change, move the camera in closer to the subject and observe the effect again. Tilting the camera down when raising the camera and up when lowering the camera increases these effects. When you raise or lower the camera in a head-and-shoulders portrait, the effects are even more dramatic.

Raising the camera lengthens the nose, narrows the chin and jaw lines, and broadens the forehead. Lowering the camera shortens the nose, de-emphasizes the forehead, and widens the jaw while accentuating the chin. Correcting Specific Problems This section deals with posing methods to correct specific physical traits you will encounter with everyday people.

If you determine that a person has an unusually narrow face, for example, knowing what to do to correct that trait will be invaluable—after all, the key to a more appealing portrait might be as simple as turning the person into the light or away from it to broaden or narrow the face.

Overweight Subjects. Dark clothing will make a person appear ten to fifteen pounds slimmer. While this is is something you could recommend for the Dark clothing will make a person appear ten to fifteen pounds slimmer.

A good rule of thumb when making a three-quarter-length portrait is to keep the camera back parallel to the plane of the subject. This reduces subject distortion and helps to keep horizontal and vertical lines true. Photograph by Kevin Jairaj. To the left of the image are a set of tools that let you warp, pucker, or bloat an area simply by clicking and dragging. There is even a tool that freezes an area, protecting it from the action of the tool. When you want to unprotect the area, simply use the thaw tool.

If you notice that you have overdone it, however, there is even a reconstruct tool that undoes the effect gradually—like watching a movie in reverse. When this happens, you have gone too far. It is always better to approach this type of reconstructive retouching with a little feedback from your subject and a lot of subtlety.

The liquify function is like a separate application by itself. It will take some practice and experimentation to perfect the techniques. However, for the most commonly needed refinements of subject features, it is a snap. Therefore, careful posing will be an important tool for addressing the issue. Begin by using a pose that has the subject turned at a degree angle to the camera.

Never photograph a larger person head-on; it will only accentuate their size. Standing poses are more flattering for overweight subjects. Seated, excess weight accumulates around the waistline. Selecting a pose that turns your subject away from the main light is also desirable, as this will put more of the body in shadow and produce a slimming effect.

Thin or Underweight Subjects. When posing a thin person, have him or her face the camera more directly to provide more width. Selecting a pose that turns your subject toward the main light is also desirable, as this will put more of the body in the light and produce a widening effect. Elderly Subjects. The older the subject, the more wrinkles he or she will have. Teeth and Eyes By quickly cleaning up eyes and teeth in Photoshop, you can put real snap back into the image.

To do this, use the dodge tool at an exposure of 25 percent. Since the whites of the eyes and teeth are only in the highlight range, set the range to highlights in the options bar. For the eyes, use a small soft-edged brush and just work the whites of the eyes— but be careful not to overdo it.

For teeth, select a brush that is the size of the largest teeth and make one pass. That should do it. For really yellow teeth, first make a selection using the lasso tool. Select Neutrals and reduce the yellow. Make sure that the method setting, at the bottom of the dialog box, is set to Absolute, which gives a more definitive result in smaller increments. Remove yellow in small increments one or two points at a time and gauge the preview.

You will instantly see the teeth whiten. Surrounding areas of pink lips and skin tone will be unaffected because they are a different color. Cleaning up a few of the blood vessels in the eyes, blending the minor imperfections of the skin and a little bit of softening throughout is more than enough. Photograph by Jerry Ghionis. In general, older subjects should also be smaller within the composition. Even when making a head-and-shoulders portrait, reducing the subject size by about 10—15 from how you might normally frame the image will ensure that the signs of age are less noticeable.

If you have a chance to retake the photo, have the person slide the eyeglasses down on his or her nose slightly. This changes the angle of incidence and helps to eliminate unwanted reflections. One Eye Smaller than the Other. Most people have one eye smaller than the other. This should be one of the first things you observe about your subject. If you want both eyes to look the same size in the image, pose the subject in a seven-eighths to three-quarters view, placing the smaller eye closer to the camera.

Because objects farther from the camera look smaller and nearer objects look larger, this will cause both eyes to appear to be more or less the same size. If your subject is bald, lower the camera height so less of the top of his head is visible.

Double Chins. You can also have the subject tilt their chin upward, tightening the area, and if possible raise the main light so that as much a possible of the area under the chin is in shadow. Wide Faces. To slim a wide face, pose the person in a three-quarters view and turn them away from the main light.

This places the image highlights on the narrow side of the face for a slimmer look. Thin Faces. To round a narrow face, pose the person in a seven-eighths view, keeping as much of the face as possible visible to the camera. Turn them toward the main light to place the image highlights on the broader side of the face for a fuller look.

Broad Foreheads. Remember, the closer the camera is to the subject, the more noticeable these corrective measures will be.

If you find that by lowering the camera and raising the chin, the forehead is only marginally smaller, move the camera in closer and observe the effect again—but watch out for other distortions.

Deep-Set Eyes and Protruding Eyes. To correct deep-set eyes, try having the subject raise their chin. To correct protruding eyes, have the person look downward so that more of the eyelid is showing. Large Ears. To scale down large ears, the best thing to do is to hide the far ear by placing the person in a three-quarters view, making sure that the far ear is out of view of the camera or in shadow.

A profile pose will totally eliminate the problem. Also, longer length lenses will appear to compress the visible ear, reducing its prominence. Uneven Mouths. Long Noses and Pug Noses. To reduce the appearance of a long nose, lower the camera and tilt the chin upward slightly. Long Necks and Short Necks. While a long neck can be considered sophisticated, it can also appear unnatural—especially in a head-and-shoulders portrait. By raising the camera height and lowering the chin you will shorten an overly long neck.

When photographing a male subject, pulling up his collar will also shorten an overly long neck. Conversely, lowering the camera height and suggesting a V-neck shirt for the engagement session, for example will lengthen the appearance of a short neck.

Wide Mouths and Narrow Mouths. To reduce an overly wide mouth, photograph the person in a three-quarters view with no smile. For a narrow or small mouth, photograph the person in a more frontal pose and have him or her smile broadly. Long Chins and Stubby Chins. Choose a higher camera angle and turn the face to the side to correct a long chin.

For a stubby chin, use a lower camera angle and photograph the person in a frontal pose. Corrective Posing Techniques 47 4. Design Elements and Posing The Concepts of Visual Design The basic concepts of visual design are not unique to photography, they can be found in all forms of visual expression dating back to the ancient Greeks. The more you become familiar with the visual rhythms that govern how people perceive images, the better you will be able to incorporate these elements into your photographs.

How is this relevant to the art of posing, you might ask? Where and how the subject is posed is one of the most critical elements in creating a well designed image with strong visual impact. Using the principles of design and composition, you will find the means to create truly expressive statements— images that will engage the viewer long after the surface information has been assimilated. Additionally, the elements of formal posing, discussed in the previous chapters, can often lead to somewhat static compositions.

These concepts of visual design are a few guidelines that will keep your posed images dynamic and fresh. This is the most static type of portrait you can produce. The easiest way to improve your compositions is to use the rule of thirds. Examine the rule-of-thirds diagram that appears to the right. The viewing area is cut into nine separate squares by four lines. Where any two lines intersect is an area of dynamic visual interest and an ideal spot to position your main point of interest.

Placement of the center of interest anywhere along one of the dividing lines can also create an effective composition. In head-and-shoulders portraits, for example, the eyes would be the area of central interest.

Therefore, it is a good idea if they fall on a dividing line or at an intersection of two lines. In a three-quarter- or full-length portrait, the 48 Master Posing Guide for Wedding Photographers The rule of thirds breaks the frame area into nine quadrants with four distinct intersections. Those intersections correspond to areas on which to position a main center of interest. Some DSLR viewfinder grids allow you to call up a grid screen that superimposes over the viewfinder screen, giving you a guideline as to those crucial points.

This wonderful bridal portrait by Dan Doke has a well-defined sense of direction. The eye follows the strong diagonal lines of the steps and the angle of the bride up to the faces of the bride and groom, which are the main center of interest and positioned close to an intersection of the rule of thirds lines. Every good portrait has a sense of direction. Thus, the face should be positioned to fall at an intersection or on a dividing line.

Usually, the head or eyes are two-thirds from the bottom of the print in a vertical photograph. In a horizontal composition, the eyes or face are usually at the top one-third of the frame—unless the subject is seated or reclining. In that case, they might be at the bottom one-third line.

Direction Every good portrait has a sense of direction. This is most easily accomplished by leaving more space in front of the subject than behind the subject. For example, if you are photographing a subject who is looking toward camera right, you should leave slightly more space on the right side of the Design Elements and Posing 49 frame the side to which the subject is looking than on the left side.

How much space should be included in each portrait is a matter of artistic taste and experience. Even if the composition is such that you want to position the person very close to the center of the frame, there should still be slightly more space on the side toward which the subject is turned. Lines Real Lines.

To effectively master the fundamentals of composition, the photographer must be able to recognize real and implied lines within the photograph. A real line is one that is obvious—a horizon, for example.

Real lines should not intersect the photograph in halves. In this image, Joe Buissink used the powerful line of the adobe staircase to dissect the image into two nearly equal quadrants. The power of the diagonal seems to propel the bride upward. Further, the visual contrast between the three different shades of paint delights the eye, as if the bride is strolling through a painting. The eye literally follows these lines through the portrait, arriving each time back at her eyes, the main center of interest.

Implied Lines. An implied line is one that is not as obvious, like the curve of the wrist or the bend of an arm. Implied lines, such as those of the arms and legs of the subject, should not contradict the direction or emphasis of the composition, but should modify it.

These lines should add gentle changes in direction and lead to the main point of interest—either the eyes or the face. All lines, either real or implied, that meet the edge of the photograph should lead the eye into the scene, not out of it; they should lead toward the main center of interest. Diagonal Lines. It should be noted that the use of lines is one of the main tools a photographer has for giving a photograph a sense of dynamics. It is im- portant to remember that horizontal and vertical lines are basically static by nature and mimicked by the horizontal and vertical edges of the print.

In the work of great photographers, diagonal lines often enhance the composition. Shapes Shapes are basic geometric forms, made up of implied or real lines, within a composition. For example, a classic way of posing three people is in a triangle or pyramid shape. You might also remember that the foundation of any well-composed portrait is the triangular base.

Shapes, while more dominant than lines, can be used similarly in unifying and balancing a composition. Sometimes shapes may also be linked by creating a common element between multiple groups. For example, two groups of three people in pyramid shapes can be linked by a person in between—a common technique used when posing groups of five or more people. There are an infinite number of possibilities involving shapes, linked shapes, and even implied shapes.

Pleasing Compositional Forms Shapes in compositions provide visual motion.

The Complete Guide to Portrait Photography: 192 Tips

The main shape is the massive triangle that frames the photo. Further, two perfectly vertical columns stand on either side of the bride and groom, contrasting the powerful diagonal lines of the staircase and balcony. Variations of squares and diagonals, make this image a visual feast. The statuesque bride and her shadow are the only static lines in a composition filled with whirls and twirls and curved shapes. The bride and her shadow stride toward the canyon of curving stainless steel walls, creating the illusion of movement.

The S-shaped composition is perhaps the most pleasing of all compositions. Another pleasing type of composition is the L shape or inverted-L shape. This type of composition is ideal for reclining or seated subjects.

The C and Z shapes are also seen in all types of portraiture, and both are visually pleasing. The classic pyramid shape is one of the most basic in all art, and is dynamic because of its use of diagonals with a strong horizontal base.

The straight road receding into the distance is a good example of a found pyramid shape. Subject shapes can be contrasted or modified with additional shapes found either in the background or foreground of the image. Tension occurs when there is a state of imbalance in an image. Pairing a big sky with a small subject, for example, creates visual tension.

Balance ocDesign Elements and Posing 53 curs when two items, which may be dissimilar in shape, create a harmony in the photograph because they are of more or less equal visual strength. Although tension does not have to be resolved in an image, it works together with the concept of balance so that, in any given image, there are elements that produce visual tension and elements that produce visual balance.

This is a vital combination of artistic elements, because it creates a sense of heightened visual interest. Tension can also be referred to as visual contrast. For example, a group of four children on one side of an image and a pony on the other side of the image produce visual tension.

They contrast each other because they are different sizes and they are not at all similar in shape. However, the photograph may still be in a state of perfect visual balance by virtue of what falls between these two groups—or for some other reason.

For instance, these two groups could be resolved visually if the children, the larger group, are wearing bright This is a vital combination of artistic elements, because it creates a sense of heightened visual interest. This is a great example of tension and balance working together to produce a strong dynamic image. The visual tension arises from the two main areas of interest: Your eye plays ping-pong between the two areas. Even though they are of dissimilar size and shape, they balance one another perfectly creating an odd sort of visual harmony within the photo.

Another intended area of tension is the crooked line of the wall, which the eye tends to want to straighten out. The custom border is designed by Cherie and is part of her Edgy Girl collection www.

Further, her tonality is very similar to that of the surrounding area. Yet there is no wandering from her figure as she is symmetrically dead-center in the frame. The sun is, of course, the brightest area in the image, and your eye is drawn toward it. This is why the bride is positioned so close to that area of the image. The eye then sees the two units as equal—one demanding attention by virtue of size, the other gaining attention by virtue of brightness.

Subject Tone Generally, the eye is drawn to the lightest part of a photograph. This is because light tones advance visually, while dark tones retreat. This means that elements in the picture that are lighter in tone than the subject will be distracting.

For this reason, bright areas particularly at the edges of the image should be darkened either in printing, in the computer, or in the camera so that they do not draw attention from the subject. Whether an area is in or out of focus also has a lot to do with the visual emphasis it will receive. For instance, imagine a subject framed in green foliage with part of the sky visible. The eye would ordinarily go to the sky first. If the sky is soft and out of focus, however, the eye will revert back to the area of greatest contrast—usually the face.

The same is true of the foreground. If the foreground is out of focus, however, it will detract less from a sharp subject. Design Elements and Posing 55 Regardless of whether the subject is light or dark, it should dominate the rest of the photograph either by brightness, size, or contrast.

Background Control The best type of background for a portrait is monochromatic. If the background is all the same color, the subjects will stand out from it. Problems arise when there are bright areas or other distracting elements in the background.

These can effectively be minimized by shooting at wide lens apertures, since the shallow depth of field will blur the background, reducing distracting detail and merging light and dark tones.

Another way to minimize a distracting background is in post-production. By burning-in or diffusing the background you make it darker, softer, or more uniform in tone. Tilting the Camera You will often see the camera tilted. This can be for dynamic effect—but there are other reasons, as well. Tilting the camera may also allow the Background control is imperative in an image like this.

The background is brighter and has more contrast than the area where the bride is posed in shade. The wide aperture and long ing pose. With wide-angle lenses, tilt- lens blurred the background so that it became a muted pastel backdrop. Group Posing and Composition W Traditionally, big groups, like the wedding party, are arranged in staggered fashion— boy, girl, boy, girl, etc. This is a standard group posing, but it is excellently done. All the head-and-shoulders axes have been controlled and the poses are all good.

All the group members face the center where the bride and groom are, and the lighting is also great—a combination of directional shade and weak fill flash.

As you will see, there are a number of tricks at play that you have probably never noticed. Try Something Unique Even with elegant posing and lighting, shots can look similar if they are arranged similarly—bride and groom in the middle, bridesmaids and groomsmen staggered boy-girl on either side, etc. Notice that the two groomsmen at both ends of the group have their arms raised, pointing back to the middle.

The posing is not out of control, as it might seem it first, but rather well choreographed. The photographers broke up the big group into smaller subgroups, each of which is doing something different. LEFT—With good posing dynamics, the head-and-shoulders axes are different but similar from subject to subject. Here, Marcus Bell arranged the subjects close together for an intimate group pose.

When the shoulders face the camera straight on, it makes people look wider than they really are and can lead to a static composition. This is known as the head-and-shoulders axis, each having a different plane and angle. Technically speaking, these are imaginary lines running through shoulders shoulder axis and down the ridge of the nose head axis.

Head-and-shoulder axes should never be perpendicular to the line of the lens axis. With men, the head is more often turned the same direction as the shoulders, but not neces- LEFT—Here is an interactive pose by Marcus Bell. It is a walking pose and, as a result, one of the group members is obscured by the groom. The expressions and interaction are first rate, making this a fine group with a minimum of posing. BELOW—This is a more traditional pose in that the groomsmen are facing in toward the groom and the head and neck axis positions are good and natural.

The slope of the curving hilltop gives the image an interesting dynamic. This is the kind of interesting group shot that the couple loves to include in the album. Photograph by Dan Doke. With women, the head is often at a slightly different and opposing angle. One of the by-products of good posing is the introduction of dynamic lines into the composition.

The line of the shoulders now forms a diagonal line, while the line of the head creates a different dynamic line. Head Positions Knowing the different head positions, outlined on pages 30—32, will help you provide variety and flow in your group designs. You may, at times, end up using all three head positions in a single group portrait. The more people in the group, the more likely that becomes. Keep in mind that, with all three of these head poses, the shoulders should be at an angle to the camera.

If they enjoy your banter, their eyes will smile, which is one of the most endearing expressions a person can make.

This problem gets worse as the group gets larger. One trick that works with chronic blinkers is used by Florida pho60 Master Posing Guide for Wedding Photographers If you examine each of the expressions in this portrait, entitled Messed up in Mexico, you will see that the group is completely unaware of the camera and having a wonderful time.

The idea to go out and sit on the dock was no doubt originated by the photographers, JB and DeEtte Sallee. It is an interactive pose that is full of animation as the girls relaxed after their group portrait. Most are hidden from view—and if they are visible, they are clearly seen and well posed. This is one of the basics you must remember when photographing groups: Also crucial in tightly packed groups is making sure that the camera sees the entire face of each subject.

This is especially true with kids, who will often try to hide behind their mom or big sister so the camera can only see one eye. It should only take a few seconds.

Master Posing Guide for Wedding Photographers

Hands in Group Portraits Hands can be a problem in groups of any size. Despite their small size, they attract attention to themselves, particularly against dark clothing. They can be especially problematic in seated groups, where at first glance you might think there are more hands than there should be for the number of people pictured. Be aware of these potentially distracting elements and look for them as part of your visual inspection of the frame before you make the exposure.

Award-winning wedding photographer Ken Sklute makes it a point to eliminate as many hands as possible in his group portraits. For men, Ken has them put their hands in their pockets a good look is to hitch the thumb on the outside of the pocket. For women, try to hide their hands in their laps or behind other people in the group. Flowers, hats, and other objects can also be used to hide hands in group portraits. If you are photographing a man, folding the arms across his chest is a good, strong pose.

Have the man turn his hands slightly inward, so the edge of the hand is more prominent than the top this gives a natural line and eliminates distortion from photographing from the top or head-on. This slims the arms, which would otherwise be flattened against his body, making them and him appear larger.

With a standing woman, one hand on a hip and the other at her side is a good standard pose. That is what Jeff Kolodny did in this fisheye portrait made from above with a You will notice that if you get the people too close to the frame edges that they will distort.

Also note the great expressions! The bride, however, holding her bouquet, has both hands visible. The hands are naturally posed. Cherie made this shot with two hot lights on stands and help from her assistant. Cherie was determined to get the Goodyear blimp in the shot, which she did—as if it were on cue. Instead, have her turn the hand so that the outer edge shows to the camera.

In all types of portraiture, a general rule is to show all of the hand or none of it. Additionally, you should avoid photographing subjects with their hands pointing straight into the camera lens. Instead, have the hands at an angle to the lens. Finally, try to photograph the fingers with a slight separation in between them. When the fingers are closed tightly together they tend to appear two-dimensional.

Designing Group Portraits There are a number of ways to look at designing groups. The first is a technical aspect. Design your group so that those posed in the back are as close as possible to those in the front.

This ensures that your plane of focus will Group Posing and Composition 63 cover the front row as well as the back row. Ensuring such an arrangement is a good habit to get into if you want your groups to be sharply focused. The second consideration in designing groups is aesthetic.

You are building a design when creating a group portrait. Norman Phillips likens group design to a florist arranging flowers. Other times we might want to arrange our subjects so that the group looks interesting apart from the dynamics of the people in the group. A third consideration is proximity.

How close do you want the members of the group to be? Phillips relates proximity to warmth and distance to elegance. If you open the group up, you have a lot more freedom to introduce flowing lines and shapes within the composition. On the other hand, a tightly arranged group where members are touching implies warmth and closeness. Composition Basics Still Apply.

When working with groups, the rules of composition like the rule of thirds covered in chapter 4 remain the same, but several key members of the group become the primary area of interest.

In a wedding group, the bride and groom are usually the main centers of interest and, as such, should occupy a prime location. Creating Lines and Shapes. Implied and inferred lines and shapes are created by the placement of faces within the frame. These become all the more important in group portraits, as they are the primary tool used to produce pleasing patterns within the composition and guide the eye through the picture.

This means that no two heads should ever be on the same level when next to each other, or directly on top of each other. Not only should heads be on different levels, but the subjects should be as well. You have three subgroups set inside three arches. Each group is carefully arranged to create a V shape.

The strength of the group arises from its asymmetrical nature three, three, and two. Notice that the bride is the only one in a formal pose. She has good posture, with her weight on the back foot and standing erect. This contrasts with the tilted poses of the bridesmaids. The bigger the group, the more you must depend on your basic elements of group portrait design. TOP—Notice the different head heights in this group portrait. The photographer, Marcus Bell, arranged the group into five neatly organized subgroups to give the overall gathering some dynamics.

It is very effective and an attractive means of photographing a big group, like the bridal party. BOTTOM—Dissect this attractive pyramidshaped group by South African photographer Brett Florens and you will see three straight lines and three groups of three, using the center-most standing girl in two groups. Good groups are nothing more than a careful arrangement of subgroups linking shapes and lines. Always think in terms of multiple levels. This makes any group portrait more pleasing. The bigger the group, the more you must depend on your basic elements of group portrait design—circles, triangles, inverted triangles, diagonals, and diamond shapes.

You must also really work to highlight and accentuate lines, real and implied, throughout the group. The best way to previsualize this effect is to form subgroups as you start grouping people.

For example, how about three bridesmaids here perhaps forming an inverted triangle , three sisters over on the right side perhaps forming a flowing diagonal line , a brother, a sister and their two kids perhaps in a diamond shape with the littlest one standing between her mom and dad. Then combine the subsets, linking the line of an arm with the line of a dress.

Just because you might form a triangle or a diamond shape with one subset in a group does not mean that one of the people in that group cannot be used as an integral part of another group. You might find, for example, that the person in the middle of a group of seven unites two diamond shapes.

In a portrait like this, each subset could be turned slightly toward the center to unify the composition or turned away from the center to give a bookend effect. Be aware of intersecting lines that flow through the design.

Diagonal lines are by far the most compelling visual line and can be used repeatedly without fear of overuse.

The curving diagonal is even more pleasing and can be mixed with sharper diagonals within the composition. There should be equal distance between each of the heads.

If you have a situation where one person is seated, one standing, and a third seated on the arm of the chair placing the two seated heads in close proximity , back up and make the portrait a full-length. Notice, too, the interplay of cohesive lines within the composition, which keep your eye within the circle of girls and tie the individuals together in an integrated composition.

Helpful Posing Tools LEFT—Dan Doke created this bouquet-like group of bride and bridesmaids upon a flowered carpet that reminds you of the rose-petal bouquets. Note the proximity of the girls to one another and the bright expressions.

Dan was directly overhead prompting the pose. In this loosely composed group, the mom and dad are separated from the bride, who is in the foreground. The composition is an inverted triangle with the bride at the point of prominence in the design. Armchairs, Love Seats, and Sofas. Once you begin adding people to a group, one of your most important props will be the stuffed armchair, small sofa, or love seat. Its wide arms, and often attractively upholstered surface, is ideal for supporting additional group members.

The armchair should usually be positioned at about a 30 to 45 degree angle to the camera. For a group of two, seat one person following the guidelines in chapter 2 and either stand the second person facing the chair for a full-length picture or seat the second person on the arm of the chair, turning them in toward the seated person. The body of the person seated on the arm should be slightly behind the person seated in the chair, with their arm coming straight down behind the person seated slightly in front of them.

When adding a third person to the group, you can either seat the person on the other chair arm or stand them. If standing, that person should have their weight on their back foot, lowering the back shoulder.

All three heads should be equidistant. A fourth person can then easily be added in a standing position, facing toward the center of the group. You can fit someone squatted down Group Posing and Composition 67 in the middle of the group, covering a lot of legs. You can have people kneel down on either side of the group or seated on the ground to complete the pyramid composition. This little group can easily become a group of fourteen. Just follow the rhythm throughout the group.

Look for the triangles between heads, diagonal lines, and equal spacing between all of the faces. Steps, Stairs, and Slopes. What about outdoors or on location, like at a wedding reception?

You must find a spot—a hillside, steps, or staircase—that will be relatively comfortable for the duration of the session. These allow you to achieve the same objective as the chair: The Posing Process Even experienced group photographers working with assistants will need ten minutes or so to set up a group of twenty or more.

Therefore, selecting natural poses—ones that your subjects might fall into without prompting—will yield the greatest success. It is important that the group remains alert and in tune with what you are doing, so it is critical to stay in charge of the posing. The loudest voice, the one that people are listening to, should be yours.

By no means should you be It is important that the group remains alert and in tune with what you are doing. Ken Sklute is a master at posing groups. Here he used a settee to pose a group of nine. The settee seats two, facing each other. The arms of the settee hold two and the bride stands in between, producing a corresponding set of triangles.

The men, positioned tallest toward the middle, form an arch across the back of the group. The result is an elegant but comfortably posed large group portrait. Here, Robert Scott Lim opted for intimacy. He had the girls bring their bouquets up so that he could capitalize on all that color and crop the portrait tightly.

Then he squeezed the group together, having the girls lean in toward the bride. This kind of pose works well when the expressions are full of life, as they are here. It also gives them a chance to have a good laugh. I recently saw a video of Yervant showing a bride how to dance down the aisle. Seeing Yervant, who is short and—to be honest—not that good a dancer, coming down the aisle with cameras flying back and forth around his neck looked rather like a circus act.

Everyone in attendance was laughing hysterically.

Talk to your subjects constantly. Reassure them, laugh with them, and tell them they look good. People always respond positively to compliments. If you want to evoke a special emotion, ask them for it. If closeness is what you are after, ease them into it. It sounds hokey, but if it does nothing more than relax your subjects, you have done a good thing. Building Smaller Groups Start with Two. The simplest of groups is two people. Whether the group is a bride and groom, brother and sister, or grandma and grandpa, the basic Group Posing and Composition 69 building blocks call for one person slightly higher than the other.

Generally speaking, the mouth height of the higher subject should be at the forehead height of the lower subject. Many photographers recommend mouth to eyes as the ideal starting point. Also, since this type of image will be fairly close up, you will want to make sure that the frontal planes of their faces are roughly You will want to make sure that the frontal planes of their faces are roughly parallel.

TOP—Walking poses are very popular. Because walking is a type of animated posing, the stride will look completely natural. Remember, the smallest group is the couple. BOTTOM—Marcus Bell captured this wonderful portrait of three completely different expressions, perhaps with a little coaxing or perhaps in reaction to his dialog.

Each personality is clearly defined: Also note the triangle shape, which contrasts the mirror on the wall picturing the bride, rendered truly. Marc Weisberg created this wonderfully intimate and happy portrait by having the couple face each other and embrace.

The red background complements the brightly colored wedding clothes of the couple. Although they can be posed in a parallel position, each with their shoulders and heads turned the same direction—as one might want to do with twins, for example—a more interesting dynamic can be achieved by having the two subjects pose at 45degree angles to each other so their shoulders face in toward one another.

With this pose you can create a number of variations by moving them closer or farther apart. You can also have two profiles facing each other—just be sure that one subject is higher than the other, creating an implied diagonal line between their eyes and giving the portrait direction. An equally interesting pose, especially with bride and groom, is to place them back to back so they are facing away from each other.

Then ask them what each is thinking about and be prepared for a spontaneous, fun reaction. Using an armchair allows you to seat one person, usually the woman, and position the other person close and seated on the arm of the chair, leaning on the far armrest.

This puts their faces in close proximity but at different heights. A variation of this is to have the man seated and the woman standing. However, when their heads are so far apart, you should pull back and make the portrait fulllength. When you seat the woman in an armchair, her hands should be in her lap and used to slim the body—waist, thighs, and hips. For as many examples as are given here, there are ten times as many variations.

Study groups of two as there are some very dynamic ways to pose two people, only a handful of which are covered here.

Group Posing and Composition 71 The Bride Should Be Closest When you have a choice—and the photographer always has a choice—position the bride closer to the camera than the groom.

This keeps the usually smaller bride in proper perspective and allows her dress to be better shown. Add a Third. A group portrait of three is still small and intimate.

It lends itself to a pyramid- or diamond-shaped composition, or an inverted triangle, all of which are pleasing to the eye. Use the turn of the shoulders of those at either end of the group as a means of linking the group together.

Once you add a third person, you will begin to notice the interplay of lines and shapes inherent in good group design. As an exercise, plot the implied line that goes through the shoulders or faces of the three people in the group.

If the line is sharp or jagged, try adjusting the composition so that the line is more flowing, with gentler angles. Try a simple maneuver like turning the last or lowest person in the group inward toward the group and see what effect it has. Still as part of the exercise, try a different configuration.

For example, create a single diagonal line with the faces at different heights and all people in 72 Master Posing Guide for Wedding Photographers You will begin to notice the interplay of lines and shapes.


When you add a third person to the group, hands and legs start to become a problem. Odd numbered groups are easier to photograph than even ones. Here, four people comprise the main group—all animated, having fun, and walking toward the camera. But wait, there is a rather homely fifth member of the group in a pink dress and also on a leash. The pooch gives the portrait a nice sense of asymmetry and adds just enough quirkiness to make this a truly memorable image.

Photograph by Annika Metsla. The power and serenity of a well-defined diagonal line in a composition can compel the viewer to keep looking at the portrait. Adjust the group again by having those at the ends of the diagonal tilt their heads slightly in toward the center person.

One solution is to show only one arm and leg per person. This is sage advice; when the group is similarly dressed, as a wedding party is, one is not always sure whose hand belongs to whom. Generally, the outer hand should be visible, the inner hand, compositionally, can be easily hidden. Adding a Fourth.

With four subjects, things get interesting. You will find that as you photograph more group portraits even numbers of people are harder to pose than odd. Three, five, seven, or nine people are much easier to photograph than the even-numbered group of people. The reason is that the eye and brain tend to accept the disorder of odd-numbered objects more readily than even-numbered objects. With four people, you can simply add a person to the existing poses of three described above, with the following caveat.

Be sure to keep the eye height of the fourth person different from any of the others in the group. Also, be aware that you are now forming shapes within your composition. Try to think in terms of pyramids, inverted triangles, diamonds and curved lines. Keep in mind that the various body parts—for instance, the line up one arm, through the shoulders of several people, and down the arm of the person on the far side of the group—form an implied line that is just as important as the shapes you define with faces.

Be aware of both line and shape, and direction, as you build your groups. An excellent pose for four people is the sweeping curve of three people with the fourth person added below and between the first and second person in the group. Alternately, you might prefer to play off of the symmetry of the even number of people.

Break the rules and seat two and stand two and, with heads close together, make the line of the eyes of the two people parallel with the eyes of the bottom two. From Five on Up. Remember that the composition will always look better if the base is wider than the top, so the next person added should elongate the bottom of the group.

With groups of five or more, you can also start to coax S shapes and Z shapes out of your compositions. Keep in mind that the diagonal line has a great deal of visual power in an image and is one of the most potent design tools at your disposal. Because there are no arms to this chair, two of the men pose with one knee on the ground to keep them at approximately the same head height as the mother.

The standing men lean forward a little to compact the group, but also to shrink the plane of focus, so that a relatively wide-open aperture provides adequate depth of field to keep the group sharp. Photograph by Ken Sklute. Dennis Orchard photographed this huge group with available light.

The placement of faces, not bodies, dictates how pleasing and effective a composition will be. When adding a sixth or an eighth person to the group, the group still must look asymmetrical for best effect.

This is best accomplished by elongating sweeping lines and using the increased space to slot extra people. As you add people to the group beyond six, you should start to base the shapes within the composition on linked shapes, like linked circles or triangles. What makes the combined shapes work is to turn them toward the center— the diamond shape of four on the left can be turned 20 degrees or less toward center, the diamond shape of four on the right which may encompass the center person from the other group can also be turned toward the center, unifying the group composition.

Building Bigger Groups Once a group exceeds nine people, it is no longer a small group. It is always best to have a game plan in mind with big groups. Group Posing and Composition 75 Posing bigger groups requires you to use standing poses, often combined with sitting and kneeling poses. Those in standing poses should be turned at least 20 degrees off center so that their shoulders are not parallel to the film plane. The exception is with small children who gain better visual prominence when they are positioned square to the camera.

With standing poses, care must be taken to disguise wide hips and torsos. When creating this type of portrait outdoors, some photographers prefer to place some extra space between group members to allow the background to become more integrated into the overall design of the image.

Building Really Big Groups For really big groups it is a good idea to have the subjects stand close together—touching. This minimizes the space between people, allowing you to get a larger head size for each person in the group. One directive you must give to the group is that they must be able to see the camera with both eyes. This will ensure that you see all of their faces and that no one will be hiding behind the person in front of them. They need to be coordinated efficiently to keep the individual group members from being self-conscious or bored.

You will need help to persuade all the guests to pose for this photo. Make it sound fun—which it should be.

The best man and ushers, as well as your assistant, can usually be persuaded to do the organizing. Look for a high vantage point, such as a balcony or second-story window, from which you can make the portrait. Use a wide-angle lens and focus about a third of the way into the group, using a moderate taking aperture to keep everyone sharply focused. Technical Considerations LEFT—Angling the camera downward helps ensure that the available depth of field covers all the subjects in the group. Diagram concept courtesy of Norman Phillips.

RIGHT—Subjects in the back of the group can lean in and subjects at the front of the group can lean back slightly so that all of your subjects fall within one plane. Keep the Camera Back Parallel to the Subject. With large groups, raising the camera height angling the camera downward so that the film plane is more parallel to the plane of the group; see the diagram below optimizes the plane of focus to accommodate the depth of the group.

This makes it possible to get the front and back rows in focus at the same time. The easiest way to achieve this angle is to shoot from a stepladder, which should be a permanent tool in your wedding arsenal. Be sure to have someone strong hold onto the ladder in case you lean the wrong way. Safety first! Shifting the Focus Field. Lenses characteristically focus objects in a more or less straight line—but not completely straight. If you line your subjects up in a straight line and back up so that you are far away from the group, all the subjects will be rendered sharply at almost any aperture.

At a distance, how- Group Posing and Composition 77 ABOVE—When a straight-line group is configured in front of the camera lens, the subjects directly in front of the camera will be closest to the lens. Those at the ends of the group will be a greater distance away from the lens. For a better image, you must move closer to the group, making those at the ends of the group proportionately farther away from the lens than those in the middle of the lineup.

Those farthest from the lens will be difficult to keep in focus. The solution is to bend the group, having the middle of the group step back and the ends of the group step forward so that all of the people in the group are the same relative distance from the camera see the diagram above.

To the camera, the group looks like a straight line, but you have actually distorted the plane of sharpness to accommodate the group. Here, the photographer also split the focus between the first and third rows of the group. When you focus halfway into your subject, your depth of field extends both in front of and behind the point of focus. Photograph by John Ratchford.The bigger the group, the more you must depend on your basic elements of group portrait design.

Ensuring such an arrangement is a good habit to get into if you want your groups to be sharply focused. If you open the group up, you have a lot more freedom to introduce flowing lines and shapes within the composition. BOTTOM—One reason why Marcus Bell spends so much time in advance of the actual wedding getting to know the bride and groom is so they will treat him like not like a guest or visitor, but as part of the family.

Also, keep a slight space between the leg and the chair as much as possible; this will slim thighs and calves. Turn the hand away from the camera so that the thumb side is facing toward the body. As an exercise, plot the implied line that goes through the shoulders or faces of the three people in the group.

They need to be coordinated efficiently to keep the individual group members from being self-conscious or bored. All three heads should be equidistant.

You can see his photography on Flickr or on his website.