I’m new to photography (currently looking into the possibility of specialising in family and equine photography) and have been doing lots of browsing on the internet looking at different posing ideas. Your photographs always look so natural so I was wondering if you could tell me how you approach posing your clients?
Do you just let them do their own thing or do you direct them?
Thanks in advance.
Woohoo! I’m so excited to be posting my first answer to my brand new ‘Ask Me Anything’ feature. Thank you to all of you who sent in messages and questions. I was overwhelmed by the response and I will try to get to as many as possible in my future blog posts.
Posing is something that I’ve done a lot of research and experimentation in, over the years, and it’s definitely one of the things both clients and photographers worry about the most. So I thought, in answer to this question, I’d write down a few of my favourite tips, to help you pose your equine photography clients.
As equine photographers, we have a huge advantage. Most photographers really struggle to give their models something to do with their hands, but lucky for us, we have an in-built accessory that solves this problem.
Our clients already have something to do with their hands. One hand will likely be holding their horse’s reins or lead rope and the other hand will be making a fuss of their horse. With equine photography, your client is never short of something to do with their hands.
- Keep It Natural
The best way to pose your clients, in my experience, is to actually pose them as little as possible. Give them a starting position, such as telling them to turn and face their horse, or telling them to stand at the horse’s shoulder and then let the poses develop naturally.
They know and love their horse, so they will naturally interact with them, and if they don’t, give them a little guidance to encourage them. And most often, the horse will dictate the flow of the shoot, by moving around, reacting to it’s surroundings and interacting with it’s owner, etc. and your model will then engage with the horse in return. But let it all happen as informally and organically as possible.
For example, one of the things I often have my clients do is to stand facing their horse and then cuddle into them. For starters, people often laugh when I first tell them to do it, because we all know that there is a good possibility that they could get head-butt if they’re not careful. So, them laughing is one good shot in the bag. And then, when they go in for the kiss, every horse and every owner will react differently. Some people will really snuggle in, some people will scrunch up their face and make it fun, some horses will be horrified and embarrassed by such PDA, whereas some are really affectionate. So, each time, with each different horse and owner, we get a different result. But however it happens, let it happen naturally and capture the true character of your models.
People can often look pretty awkward when they’re just standing next to their horses with no direction. So, we’ve given them something to do with their hands, what about their legs? If you find them just standing stiffly, there are two really easy, simple steps that can completely change someone’s whole stance.
Firstly, get them to put all of their weight into one leg. Sometimes that’s enough and that will have them looking relaxed and at ease. However, if you want something a little more elegant, especially if your model is in a dress, just get them to turn their bent knee inwards.
- Eye Contact
With every shoot, I always tell the client not to look at my camera unless I tell them otherwise. And there are only a handful of shots that I want them looking at me for. Other than that, I prefer them not to make direct eye contact with my lens.
I tell them that all of their focus needs to be on their horse. I want them talking to him, making a fuss of him, paying him all the attention. It creates much more of a connection between the horse and owner. Sometimes, if their horse is looking off into the distance, I’ll get them to look in the direction. And I also sometimes get them to look at and talk to whoever else is helping us out on the shoot.
With these simple tips, you should have be able to put your client at ease without having them looking stilted and unnaturally posed.
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