Posing and Lighting: The Synergy and Concept. Guest Post by Eduardo Frances

Lighting and Posing: A synergistic approach by Eduardo Frances

This morning finds me in Boston. It’s cold and overcast, but our goal is to have a terrific workshop. And we will.

Eduardo Frances is our guest columnist this morning. He hails from El Salvador and I have profiled him on the site here. I am sure you will enjoy this piece on the synergy between posing and lighting. I saw something he wrote on a forum and asked him to illustrate it and submit it to LE. He rewrote and added some excellent images, and I am proud to present it to my readers. Here is an interview we did with him a few months ago.

As we get to the end of this year, there are so many things that are happening. 2009 will be a year to be remembered. That is for sure. And at LE we have made some changes and have been in discussions with folks who want to present more content to photographers who are in the ‘emerging’ point of their careers.

A little on the workshops: Boise, Pittsburgh and Vegas have openings. All the others are full.

Here are some articles I think you may like:
We had one of our few “Gear” articles here. And of course take a look at the “Going Pro” series, and of course Briana’s wonderful series “Model Behavior.”

Now go read the article by Eduardo Frances.

One of the most commons mistakes when thinking about photography is shooting without a concept, an idea that basically forms what the image you want to create will become, why? Simply because this will give you the cue on where you want your lights (45 to left or right? boomed above?, etc. How many lights you want (hair?, rim?, background?, etc.) How you will modify it (grids?, umbrellas?, softboxes? Beauty dishes?, etc.). But a variable that´s often overlooked is the relationship between pose and lighting.

The poses you want the model to do are literally tied to your lighting because if the model faces away from the key light or if she does a pose where the lighting isn´t flattering the results could be very, bad, as an example it may make the face to dark, or may show wrinkles on the body you didn´t wanted to show, or it may make the body look awkward.

So in the process of dealing with people photography you have to plan what you want to do and now we will cover this in a bit of depth about: concept, lighting, pose, and making a positive vibe for the photoshoot.

When you provide the model with a relaxed atmosphere where they can be themselves makes it easier for them to be able to perform at their best in front of the camera.

When you provide the model with a relaxed atmosphere where they can be themselves makes it easier for them to be able to perform at their best in front of the camera.

Step 1: Concept from here you will be making decisions about location, lighting setup, model clothing, make up, wardrobe and poses too.

Step 2: You are required to make your model or the person in front of the camera to feel at ease, if the person isn´t used to the camera this will require more work, you have to build up his/her confidence in order to get the best out of that person posing for you.

In semiotics you learn there´s an implicit language written in the distance a person has with another one, the distance between two people is directly proportional to the level and kind of relationship they have with another person, as an example you keep your better half much closer than the distance between you than someone you just met, or your lawyer, so this means that getting too close to your subject may not be a wise idea, be respectful of this idea.

When shooting headshots I use telephoto lenses, not only they provide a flatter perspective of the subject (no barrel distortion) they also provide a distance between me and the subject.

When shooting headshots I use telephoto lenses, not only they provide a flatter perspective of the subject (no barrel distortion) they also provide a distance between me and the subject.

Step 3: Be sure to explain the idea to the people posing in front of your camera, and be sure to explain what do you want of poses, facial expression, etc. If there´s a pose you or a facial expression you like from a magazine show them to the model or the person posing. Sometimes you may have to do the pose yourself (it looks funny but it helps a whole lot).

In this example the photo was planned to have the specular higlight being a prominent part of the photo, the position of the lighting was as important as the model working the pose to get the maximum effect for the photo.

In this example the photo was planned to have the specular higlight being a prominent part of the photo, the position of the lighting was as important as the model working the pose to get the maximum effect for the photo.

You will have to work their moods too, as an example if you want them to smile ask them about a happy memory they have, another one that works is to ask what´s their favorite food and make them remember the smell of that food, throw a joke or two (keep them clean if you don´t want the situation to turn awkward after the joke).

One consideration is that for different types of bodies (big or thin) there are poses that won´t look good so you have to plan this in advance, you have to also plan with lighting too as an example a big person isn´t the best suited for broad lighting, a thin perso isn´t the best suited for short lighting.

Know the limits too, this means that you can´t ask a non professional model to strike a pose too complicated, or that you ask a person that isn´t into gymnastics or martial arts to do a back flip. This also means that you can´t say “OK now it is time for you to be in this tiny tong!” out of the blue!, you have to stick to what you agreed with the person and if there wasn´t any agreement of g-strings or naked photos prior the photoshoot don´t even try to make it happen.

Don´t touch the person posing for you (remember the distance thingy we talked about before? Well it applies here too) and if you have to make minute adjustments to the pose (tilt of the head as an example) you don´t have to do it with your whole hand in her/his face (like in a creepy plan), first let the person know that you are going to direct his head pose with your hand and use the tip of your fingers, the less you touch the better so keep those hands on your camera.

I also take the time to explain which one is the key light and what´s the movement radius the model will have and even shot a couple of photos directing the model on where he/she will look fine, and one where she won´t look great because she is off the key light so they can see the difference.

Depending on what you are shooting, you may want to add some flow to the pose, breaking up lines on shoulders, hips, making the model throw an “s” curve with her body

Step 4: If you are shooting one man army style you have to look out for wrinkles in the clothing, stray hair, oily skin (make up retouching), wrinkles in the skin that are not flattering to your subject, etc.

This means you need to have some tools at hand a hair comb, styling spray or gel, a rolling lint remover, etc. (there´s a great article already about the non photographic tools in a photographer bag written by Don take a lookt at it here http://www.lighting-essentials.com/twenty-non-photographic-essentials-for-location-photography/ )

Step 5: After you secured the safe shots (always do the safe shots!) let the model do some improvisation with the poses but remind the model in which direction he/she should be facing and always be on the look out on the key light and their pose.

Once we finished the shots that were a must, I throwed a couple of jokes to make the model laugh which resulted in her awesome smile and expression in this photo.

Once we finished the shots that were a must, I throwed a couple of jokes to make the model laugh which resulted in her awesome smile and expression in this photo.

Step 6: Encouragement and positive remarks when shooting someone are an awesome way to build up confidence and provide feedback but keep it clean!

Being positive and polite pays off, model will feel secure, confident and willing to do their best in front of the camera.[/caption

-Good way to do it: great!, nice!, awesome pose!, etc.

-Bad way to do it: you look so HOT!!, you look foxy!

If there´s something you don´t like on the pose or facial expression be positive on the way you say it and help them achieve what you want! Frustration can show up in a photo if you aren´t careful. Let the person see the photos in the back of your camera and direct him/her from there and when the good photo comes up be sure to compliment and show them the difference.

Wardrobe selection is important because it has to be clothing that looks great on your model and fits in your concept.

Wardrobe selection is important because it has to be clothing that looks great on your model and fits in your concept.

Being positive and polite pays off, model will feel secure, confident and willing to do their best in front of the camera.

Step 7: Music is your ally! There´s nothing like music to pump the vibe, making a list of songs that go along with your concept and playing them to set the mood is a great idea, Itunes and the likes are perfect for this job, search and play for music styles that fit your photoshoot and keep a variated catalogue of all kinds of music (rock, pop, jazz, instrumental, classic, arabic, etc.)

I hope this help you out if there´s any question feel free to ask I will gladly reply, my best wishes for everyone and thanks Don for featuring the article!.

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Thanks Eduardo. Here is Eduardo’s MM site.

If you enjoyed this article, please let your friends know.

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About 

This is a place for photographers.

Hi, I'm wizwow - also known as Don Giannatti. Photography has been the focus of my life for most of my adult years. I have written three books for Amhearst Media (available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble: keyword 'don giannatti'. Lighting Essentials is my flagship blog and e-zine with a slightly different slant than most photography related sites. If you are interested in becoming a better photographer, check out Project 52 Pros.

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1 Comment

  1. Great little article, I appreciate you sharing this with us. I agree pretty much 100%.