I just finished an one week workshop at Texas School of Professional Photography. I studied The Art of Posing and Lighting from master photographer Hanson Fong. Hanson is a world famous wedding and portrait photographer from San Francisco, but we both had to go to Texas for the school! There were more than 50 instructors at the school, and more than 1000 students. Several instructors were from California, and I am the only photographer from Santa Cruz, along with two more from California.
I have seen Hanson present at other photography conferences and trade shows, and have always admired the ease and proficiency he showed in posing groups of people, and his famous flow posing for couples. Even though I do not photograph weddings, there were a lot to be learned from a master. There were more than 20 photographers in my class, and we also learned from each other. Everyone has difference background and experience, height, weight, size and shape. I especially enjoyed the hands on part of the workshop when we had to pose each other, but it was amazing to see how Hanson made it look so easy.
A great portrait does not happen by accident. At least not if you just want to get lucky. Lighting in the studio must be used to bring out the best of the model (the subject in the portrait), and hide anything you don’t want to show. I am reminded of what I learned from another master photographer about how to analyze the face for the best lighting and angle. People have written many books on how to light and how to pose, it is definitely an art to be learned and practiced.
So what are the principles of posing? For groups it is uneven height, blocking or showing the bodies as appropriate, moving forward closer to the camera to appear bigger, further away to appear smaller. These are just the tips of the iceberg on how to pose for a great portrait. I will be applying what I learned to my portrait sessions, and look forward to creating more beautiful portraits of family, couples, and individuals.