Conveying mood, style or emotion with subject pose.

One of the most overlooked aspects of business photography is pose. Unlike fashion photography, where “Pose” is often treated as “primary” to the composition, in business photography pose is often given formulaic or cursory attention.

Is the lighting right? Is the person standing straight? Is the pose consistent throughout the set of portraits? That is often the entirety of attention given to the subject. But taking this approach is significantly short-changing the process, and the client.

In my opinion, there are actually three important things that a subject’s pose needs to accomplish during a photo shoot. First, the pose must be comfortable and attractive. People in business are (usually) not models and aren’t accustomed to standing in front of a stranger with a camera.  A huge part of my job is to put the subject at ease, which I do with suggestions about how to stand, what to do with their hands, etc.  This is a learning process for both of us as we discover what works for each individual.  Sometimes some unique positioning, such as arms akimbo, can make a subject more grounded and relaxed. For others maybe its hands in pockets..  Everybody is different but when they’re comfortable you can see it in their face.

Second, position/pose must encompass as much messaging as possible. A picture is a picture is a picture. But is this picture worth 1,000 words, or just five? Does it support the brand image? Does it amplify the message that the “business use” needs it to convey? Does it evoke emotions consistent with the brand? This is the aspect of pose that I use for the most positive impact. I take the time to look more holistically at the subject in the frame, considering the final intent of the end product.  Subtle changes, like a slight twist at the waist and neck…or a minor shoulder drop and slight raise of the chin can convey a vastly different attitude than just standing still, looking at the camera. I find this aspect of finding “the right pose” the most challenging and most rewarding.

The third characteristic of pose is memorability. I look for a pose that conveys uniqueness and marry it with background environment and facial expression. Not only does this help with messaging, it creates a distinctive impression that makes the image last, as you can see from the photo in this blog post.

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