How To Trick People Into A Great Pose

jasmine star photoNo matter if you are photographing people in a wedding, an advertisement campaign, a fierce fashion spread, family portrait, or just a headshot, chances are you are going to need your subjects to show a real human emotion. Throughout my own photography career, I have realized that only about 1% of people can turn on a fake emotion that comes across as genuine in the final photo. The remaining 99% of the population have to experience an expression real time as it happens spontaneously. Jasmine Star is one of the most successful and trend setting wedding photographers on the scene right now and she has created a great video explaining how she strategically fools her clients into "moving into a pose". This technique can work with everyone from normal people to professional models, but where you will really see this sort of coaching succeed is with people who are self conscious and camera shy. Get them to focus on your funny personality or another human interaction around them and let your shutter roll! Do you have any phrases or techniques you have found successful time and time again? Share them in the comments

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Patrick Hall's picture

Jasmine hits the nail on the head with this comment:  "if people are looking awkward, it's not their fault it's mine".  Take this to heart people!  You are responsible for how your talent is looking 100% of the time

excellent stuff! 

When I'm in the studio shooting apparel, when the model first steps in front you I'll take just a few "test shots to adjust any lighting". During this I'll say something like "feel free to make any faces at me or do whatever for the camera" Usually they do and it relaxes them.

Another method for most people for smiles is I'll say "okay let's go ahead and get a smile up. Bigger. Bigger. Bigger" until they can't go any further and just laugh. Then I'll say "it was actually great the first time I just wanted to see what you'd do". No matter how big their smile is I always say bigger a few times.

I always try to joke and honestly I'm behind the camera and it's MUCH LESS nerve racking for me than probably them. I make fun of myself a lot and act goofy to make them feel more confident about themselves. 

I really like the positive reinforcement part. I totally agree. People are much more susceptible to positive talk and weather or not they're realizing it they absorb in a way your manner of talk. If they're constantly hearing "YEAH, like that, just a little more" or "I LIKED what you just did let's take a few like that first" instead of "NO, no quite like that, try the other way", then, I think they'll naturally be building confidence as you're shooting.

Some of the most straight to the point useful info I've seen in a while.

Mark Alameel's picture

Great video. 

I actually do these technics already because I tend to work with new models.  So many other photographers actually said that this was a waste of their time and that subjects should be ready to work whne they show up.  I keep trying to tell them, you are there to work, to capture them having fun...  Photographing people should be a social project, as long as you can remain professional. 

Maybe if they watch a beautiful woman say the same thing, they will listen.

Louis Rumball's picture

Great advice, try planning a shoot, and not take any pictures for the first hour, but sit there with your camera pointed at the model, and just talk to them, the will be relaxed!

This is great advice.  Some people think that the technical aspects behind the camera are all that is involved with getting great pictures of people.  Wrong.  You could have the most elaborate lighting setup or a gorgeous-beyond-belief location, but without the people skills involved in helping your clients feel comfortable and not too "posey", the quality of your pictures will suffer.  I think that this is partly what separates a good photographer from a great photographer.  Once again....great advice Jasmine!

That was really cool Jasmine. Sometimes one may feel that their loosing that touch of instructing people.
But after watching your video, turns out I haven't. It can just get a little repetitive at times. But I'm basically doing what you've explained. So all is cool and Im feeling much better...... Cheers. 

Gregory's picture

Very instructive, thanks Jasmine !

Nice tips. I worked with a lifestyle photographer once who was always asking the talent to do silly, seemingly awkward things. What I eventually realized was his awkward requests were getting the models to forget about posing unnaturally, and then capturing the the great moments that happened after their silliness wore off.

My question might sound a little weird, but the video is all about smiling and being naturally happy. How could I "trick" people to look sad or mad or any other feeling ? Do I need to tell them to think about their dead grandmother or their mortgage or their boss ?

Shannon Wimberly's picture

I Love her.... From what I have learned from J* is to try to capture the shots around the pose, give instruction, watch them try and figure it out... then laugh at themselves... and they say, '"I'm just not doing it right"... when all along the camera is shooting and catching them off guard, in between the faked posed look.... works.

Patrick C N Wong's picture

What are the ways that you guys are using?

Michael Comeau's picture

I never ask subjects to smile. When I want a smile, I tell them with a 100% deadpan tone that I need a serious face immediately. The more I press, the harder it is for them to stop smiling. Then, I tell them to smile, and boom - totally natural, relaxed expression.

I'll have to watch it again to get the tips.  The first time around I just couldn't take my mind off of how beautiful Jasmine is. Thanks.

Jasmine thank you so much for this video! Posing can be hard since there is already so much thought going into the camera. I was feeling discouraged about posing and this really helped!