One of the defining characteristics of any new technology innovation is that having a way to do something very easily opens the door to amateurs. Look how much lousy web design we had to sit through at the start of the World Wide Web, between the time HTML came out and the time when people started taking design seriously. Well, we have a new device to worry about: the digital camera, and its potential to instantly snap pictures without need for film, darkroom, or even a physical print.
The point of this article is to separate yourself from those amateurs by following some general advice. Since the rest of digital photography is so easy, the least you can do is put forth some effort beyond checking to see that the battery’s charged and pointing the lens the right way. These tips will improve your photo quality by at least 50%, and the other 50% will have to be your talent.
First, for posing subjects. Most home users will be snapping pics of the family, usually right after getting the camera for Christmas or a birthday. The rest of the time the average home user will just be photographing people, particularly to get snaps of the kids to send to grandma. So we’ll start there. These rules apply in family portraits, baby pictures, pet portraits, and any kind of group pictures.
* Planning. You can go quite far in photography just by trying to visualize what kind of composition you want to start with. Impulsive shots look thrown together, with heads cut off, legs out of frame, and everybody looking in every direction except at the camera.
* You don’t have to limit yourself to one shot. Take multiple shots – a speed-shoot helps here. Try different angles as well. Taking more shots allows you to put luck on your side – and is especially important to catch your subjects at that one moment when they were able to hold the pose and look natural without looking like wax figures.
* Pay attention to the LCD screen. In video gaming this is called a “head’s up display”, but digital cameras have borrowed the concept. Instead of running through hallways in Doom with your health, armor, and ammo showing in corners of the screen, you have the LCD showing a histogram, battery monitor, flash setting, and so on. You’d be surprised what will pop up in the background at the last second…
* Keep it light. Have your subjects in a playful mood. Use a funny phrase to cue them to pose, and be good-natured in posing your subjects. Nothing kills a shot like a demanding photographer who’s barking orders at people. Learn to have tight control while making people think that it’s their idea.
* For group portraits, use the ‘wide angle’ setting. This will ensure that the people on either end don’t get cut out of the picture. Nothing’s worse in a portrait than having to chop off somebody’s arm in a cropping mishap.
* Watch that flash! People tend to think that flash has two settings, on and off, and they turn it on in the nighttime and off in the daytime. There’s much more to it than that. For instance, if your flash is set to ISO 100, it will be at the right illumination level with your subject about 8 to 12 feet from the camera. Bring them closer, and they’ll appear irradiated; send them farther away and they’ll be lurking in the shadows like a Disney villain. If you have to be further away, set the ISO higher, or choose a place or time with brighter illumination.
* Mirrors are evil! Especially when you point the camera right into them with the flash on, since the mirror will reflect it and you’ll end up with a washed-out photo. Keep mirrors out of the background or turned at an angle at least.
* Pay attention to the background. Distracting backgrounds include high traffic areas (lots of confusion and activity), streets and parking lots (or any place with a number of tall, narrow objects), and loud wallpaper (ah! the colors! the stripes!). I’ve seen so many pictures that were excellent spoiled by a crazy background distracting from the subject.
* Be aware of sun and shade. In shade, use fill-flash where necessary and watch out for high contrasts between sunlit background and shaded foreground, or you’ll get that Disney villain effect again. In sunlight, avoid direct sunlight or if at all possible find some way to diffuse it. A mildly overcast day is actually the best time for daytime outdoor photography.
And finally, do try to compose an image that’s worth keeping. We’ll all end up looking at it in our family photo album for years to come – we might as well make each shot count as being the best it can be. Here’s a helpful video to get you started –
Important: I’ve included this link to a popular down-loadable guide on advanced posing techniques. It’s popular for good reason so make sure you have a look.
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Here are some remote sites with information on photography posing. Note: We have nothing to do with these sites below so we cannot guarantee their accuracy nor reliability.