Regardless of the purpose of the session or the age or shape of the client, the primary goal of the photographer should be to expertly guide posing and lighting to help bring out the client’s best self. Compelling and flattering images are the goal! And lighting and posing are the path to get there. Add to that impeccable customer service, and you have the trifecta of an unstoppable business.
When women are interested in professional business images, they are often coming to me because their vision is outside the more traditional studio lit head and shoulders shots, but instead something that showcases not just their professionalism, but their personality as well (image 4 with the Chardonnay is just one example!). Not unlike a high school senior portrait, creative professional business images take into account the interests and style of the client, and for me that also includes a consultation on flattering clothing and colors and advice on what location will provide a more interesting backdrop than the studio. But whether in-studio or on-location, the elements to making women look fabulous in photographs remain the same time and time again: flattering clothing, flattering posing, flattering light. Here are five tips for one of those three elements: flattering posing!
These tips directly apply to women photographed in professional creative portraits, though these poses work for nearly all portrait situations:
1) Standing Weight Shift
Images 1 and 4 (shift back), images 3, 5 and 10 (shift forward). First, by asking a woman to shift her weight to the back leg in a standing pose, you’re also, by virtue of body dynamics, adding a ‘hip pop’ that immediately adds a slimming effect. In images 1 and 5 pictured here, I’ve suggested that the weight be shifted to the back leg, and then depending on the clothing or location, adjusted the other leg to a flattering position, usually angled out from the body.
There are two ways I do the front weight shift – first, by asking a woman to shift her weight forward by leaning her torso towards me, either from the shoulder (image 5, left) or from the waist (image 10 right); and the second way is to ask her to cross her legs at the ankles (images 3 and 10 left) and to then lean forward at the torso. The lean in this second situation is almost imperceptible to the camera, but is definitely perceptible to the person being posed. A side benefit is that a lean forward also slims the face. A simple weight shift adjustment can make a world of difference.
2) Shooting From Above
Images 2, 7, 8 and 9. Most women have the same “trouble spot” – the dreaded double chin. Nothing flatters and slims the face more than photographing from above. It’s also why the ‘phone held above your face selfie’ is so flattering! You can achieve this slimming look either by asking the client to sit, and positioning yourself above them, or by bringing a step ladder or otherwise adding height to your own position. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic difference in height, just enough to lengthen the appearance of the face.
3) Crossed Arm Crossed Knee Dangle
Images 5, 7, 8 left, 9 and 11. This is a favorite pose for me in almost every session involving women – from boudoir, to senior, to women in business.
Ask the client to sit on the edge of a chair or surface, ask them to cross their legs at the knee, then ask them to cross their arms at the wrist and dangle their arms as they lean forward on their knees. This also can be done from the floor with one knee up and the other leg tucked under (image 8, left). Crossing the arms slims the body, leaning forward with those arms dangling hides the middle and also slims the face. Add a high camera angle to that and it’s even more slimming!
4) Using Architectural Elements
I often have clients lean against columns and walls in two ways – one, from slightly behind the architectural element, so as to create something to hold the weight as they lean forward (image 6), and two, asking them to lean their hips and arms into the architectural element, being sure to angle the rest of their body away from the lean (image 10, left and right). The architecture can then also be used to slightly hide the body – whether the arms or the breadth of the body.
5) Where Do I Put My Hands/Arms?
There are so many variations, but my favorite place to position randomly dangling hands is on the hips, a move that instantly slims arms and adds a little sass (image 3). But I also love a naturally loose arm, with the elbow or arm slightly away from the body to show the waist (image 4) I also like, when appropriate, a slightly more model-esque pose of the arm on top of the head (images 3 and 10 right). This is a little more informal, but fun!
Never forget – break out the smiles: nothing looks better than a genuine smile on the face of the client! Using your personality to bring out theirs is so crucial, and makes a wonderful and long lasting impression!