Posing for Children's Portrait Photography

Today's post comes from the books The Art of Children's Portrait Photography by Tamara Lackey. It is available from Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

In contemporary photography, the word “posing” is sometimes used with a negative onnotation. A lot of people say they want to avoid “posed” photographs when they really mean that they want more expressive imagery. However, posing is not a bad thing. Ideally, a lot of what posing is about is setting up an individual in a manner that is most flattering to them and photographing them from an angle and at a focal length that best showcases their attributes.

Even if you never place a child in an exact pose and put her finger exactly like this and sweep her chin to the side exactly like that, it doesn’t mean that you won’t know a heck of a lot more about how to best flatter your subject by learning the basic rules of posing.

Start with poses that kids normally adopt in their everyday life, then go from there.

Some Simple Rules. The following are some simple rules to consider when looking for the best pose in a subject.

1. When posing multiple subjects, consider the physical distance between them. What may be a comfortable space between two subjects in everyday life may look pronounced in a photograph. Consider moving them closer together for an intimate and affectionate look.

Look for ways to show curves, rather than straight lines, in your subjects’ poses.

2. Think about what looks comfortable and start there. Leaning against a wall, a tree, or a window; hugging knees to the chest; laying on their back with their head turned to the side; hands in pockets; arms crossed naturally; “self hugs;” laying belly-down with legs kicked up in the air—these are natural poses for children in their day-to-day life. Start with what looks normal and easy, then let it evolve from there.

3. When photographing a parent with their child, remind them to pay attention to positioning their chin a bit more out and down to avoid an unnecessary double chin. It’s a natural response to laugh and throw your head back and shoulders up, but this can create the illusion of more girth around the neck and chin area. You can easily avoid this by offering a few quick tips to the subject(s) before the shoot even begins.

4. Consider showcasing the beautiful S-curve of your subjects. A completely straight body facing the camera head-on can tend to look stocky. Creating some turns in the form, on the other hand, creates a look that is more fluid, graceful, and attractive. Simply turning an individual to the left or right can create this S-curve quite easily.

With a bit of subtle coaching, you can get a variety of natural poses and expressions.

5. With children, you typically want to get down to their level, but sometimes shooting from above—with their gaze cast upward toward the camera—can really accentuate their striking eyes.

A high camera angle can be used to accentuate a subject’s striking eyes.


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