Before she became a sought-after New York fashion photographer, Lindsay Adler was getting the teen set to look their best in front of the camera — and she was having fun while doing it.
“High school seniors – girls in particular – let you get creative and let you have fun,” she says about her experience shooting senior portraits.
The freedom to get creative and try new things that senior photography permits gave Lindsay lots of opportunities to learn and discover posing tricks that work and poses that don’t. She boiled those early posing lessons down into five posing rules you can use direct your high school senior subjects.
1. Get creative, but don’t forget the expression: “High school senior photograph is all about what she looks like – it’s all about that expression.” You don’t have the same latitude with senior portraits that you get with an editorial shoot, your subject is the person so you can compromise on communicating personality. “If you’re getting really creative and have the girl pose in a funky way and her expression is gone because she’s uncomfortable then it was a failed shot “
The bottom line: Don’t let your desire to get creative get in the way of that expression.
2. Asymmetry rules. A little asymmetrical action prevents your poses from looking static, and creates more interest in your poses.
“Plain old hands on the hips, for example, is a little bit static. Maybe raise one [elbow] and lower the other try to get things a little bit more asymmetrical,” she explains. If you do, for whatever reason, have to pose someone in a symmetrical way, prompt your subject to move into the pose while you shoot to give it a little more energy.
3. Look for uneven weight distribution. Uneven weight distribution naturally contributes to the asymmetry you are aiming for and contributes to a more flattering shot,“if the girl is standing, make sure she is not flat footed.” You want to get a little bounce and energy in your portrait and you can help, Lindsay explains, when you, “have them put their weight off on one foot.”
4. Don’t ignore the hands. Lindsay is much more liberal about incorporating hands in high school senior portraiture than in fashion.
“You can make some really great images where their arms and their hands frame their face and frame their body.”
Of course, there are still rules to follow so its important that when you include hands in your shots you aren’t seeing the palm and always seeing the side of the hand. She goes over more essential hand posing techniques in Posing 101.
5. Sitting, leaning, laying? All of the above. “Go safe, then go crazy and get creative,” Lindsay says. High school senior portraits are going on Grandma’s wall, but will also get handed out to friends and turned into profile pictures. Make sure you get the standing or sitting shot the family is is expecting, then open the shoot up for more fun and experimentation.
“The standing shot is obvious, but you’ve got sitting, leaning, and laying,” she explains. The leaning and laying are great opportunities for incorporating unexpected texture and coming up with more creative shots.
When you know these rules helps posing ideas come more easily. They help you think on your feet without forcing you to memorize specific poses. They are designed to be your baseline – “focus on five and build from there.”
If you are ready for a more complete posing education, be sure to check out Posing 101 which is flush with visual guides to help you take your best shot.