When I first started shooting photos, it was purely a hobby. I bought my first entry-level DSLR and learned on the go. I had no technique, I had no basic education in photography, I just had an eye for what looked good. It wasn't until I took some digital media courses that I learned about lighting and composition. Then, as I started gaining clients, I had to learn how to pose them. In this blog, I'm going to share with you some simple things I learned that I wish I knew when I first started out in photography.
Lighting - Golden Hour
Golden hour is the time of day around sunset and sunrise. Photos taken during this time are often softer, have a reddish hue, and are generally more pleasing. Most natural light photographers will schedule photoshoots an hour before sunrise or an hour after sunset. I typically find that my best photos are taken 30 minutes after the sun rises or 30 minutes before the sun sets. What's nice about golden hour is that you don't need a flash or extra lighting. When you're first starting out and can't afford extra equipment, this is a great time to practice or schedule photoshoots. Note the photo above. I took this photo during golden hour and I did not use a flash or extra lighting.
Posing - Angles and Arms
Another thing I wish I knew, was how to pose clients. I love taking candid pictures and I spent a lot of my early years capturing natural moments of my children and family. Unfortunately, when you're on a real photoshoot, the time is limited, and clients are going to expect you to direct them.
The 45-degree Angle
Direct clients to stand at a 45-degree angle from the camera - like in the pictures shown below. This angle is usually flattering for most people. Additionally, having clients point one foot toward the camera adds interest to the photo. There are many variations to this pose, including bending the front knee, shifting weight onto the back leg, or arm placement. Take some time and experiment to see what combinations look best.
Do something with them! Most people will ask me on a photo shoot, "What do I do with my arms?" There are several poses that are easy to remember. These poses help to make clients feel more confident, and the photos tend to turn out more relaxed and natural. In the top left corner is the traditional teacup pose. Make sure the client looks relaxed and that hands are not too high. In the bottom left is the power pose where arms are crossed. This pose is great for men as it makes them look larger at the shoulders. The power pose also works great for women, especially in corporate photography. In the third photo, the subject has his hands in his pockets. This pose usually gives off a relaxed feel but still exudes confidence. Make sure to check for posture and remind subjects to straighten up if they are slouching.
Composition - The Rule of Thirds
Finally, let's talk about basic composition and the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is a fundamental rule to design and photography. It states that you divide your viewing area into a grid of 2 vertical lines and 2 horizontal lines. The points where the lines intersect are natural points of focus. In the image below, notice that the lines intersect at the subject's left eye; this is where viewers will naturally look when first viewing the image. In portrait photography, I like to make the eyes the focal point of the photo.
There you have it! I hope that as a new photographer, these tips were helpful to you. It is important to note that these rules are just guidelines that will help you when you're first starting out. You will develop your own style eventually - don't be afraid to experiment and break the rules. Now get out there and practice, practice, practice!