Chuck Gardner's Photography Class
Part Two C - Posing Individuals
by Chuck Gardner
Clothing and backgrounds for portraits

You'll recall from lesson one that an important rule of composition include to having only one center of interest and making it the brightest object in the frame. In a low key (i.e., dark background) portrait the brightest object in the frame should be the front of the subject's face. Long sleeve garments in darker shades and muted colors are ideal. For men in business attire a blue rather than white shirt will be less distracting. The background should be light enough in tone to allow visual separation between it and the subject but not light enough to compete for attention with the subject.

However if the subject is wearing light clothing (e.g,. in a bridal gown or white suit) consider using a high-key technique. In a high key portrait the goal is to make the subject's face the darkest thing in the frame. This is accomplished by using a light background, back lighting or a combination of both.

Feminine and Masculine Postures:
How a the subject's head is positioned relative to the shoulders differs for men and women. When a woman's shoulders are angled towards the camera and her head is turned and tipped slightly to her higher shoulder the resulting pose looks very feminine. When taken to the extreme resulting look can be coy or flirtatious. A man placed in similar pose will also look feminine. Men look more masculine when their bodies are more or less square to the camera and their heads are perpendicular to their shoulders.

Start with the feet: For both men and women you start the pose, regardless of whether it is full length or a head and shoulders portrait, with the subject's feet and legs. The goal is a natural, relaxed posture and the easiest way to achieve it to position the subject's then ask them to shift their weight to the back leg. When this is done the hip and shoulders fall into place like a chain reaction. This technique also works wonders for group photos.

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