Have you ever been told to just stand like you normally would? Did it work? Being told to do so is a sure fire way to get the opposite result. So, that prompting should never be part of your photo session. For your portraits, I’m always looking for ways to make you feel more at ease. The truth is, standing and posing can be quite difficult. Giving you somewhere to place your arms and your hands will help you to stand and not feel completely awkward. This is why stair rails or ledges to set your arms on come in so handy. Today, I’ll show you three examples of natural arm placements for your portraits using what’s available at the location.
This gazebo is a great example of a ledge I might utilize for your portraits. And, the arm placement is super easy. All you have to do is set your arms on the bar or ledge and slightly lean forward. I’ll ask you to grab your elbows–or one elbow–like in the picture above. Or, I may even ask you just to let your hands hang down. Either way you’ll fall into a comfortable posture, which is what we want! I’ll cue you to keep your upper body really tall so your neck doesn’t get lost, of course!
Another option is to have you place one forearm on the rail and then cross at or near your wrists. In this photo example, once I had the model set her her arms on the handicap bars sticking out of the department store’s sidewalk, she automatically had to scoot her lower body away from the railing. Not only did this movement push her hips back, but it also helped to create the feminine “S” shape with her body. That shape is extremely flattering for women. This is the beauty of setting you up with easy arm placements–your body shifts to accommodate them. Angles and shapes will emerge that highlight you well.
In this example, I used the slopping angle of the stair rail and had the model place one hand up higher than the other. Because she was able to hold onto the rail, I saw that her shoulder naturally came forward. So, I asked her to move her chin around towards that shoulder for more of a glamour-type shot. If you’ve read any of my prior posts, you may know that I learned the shoulder technique from portrait photographer, Sue Bryce–https://suebryce.com/. It’s one of my favorites to use for women and teens, and I even use it for my own self-portraits. Getting this sweet, girly look is a lot easier if you’ve got something to anchor your hand to during your photo session.
There are two elements essential to creating portraits or headshots that you’ll love. One is the shape of your body, and the other is the expression on your face. Both have to actually be or at least appear to have happened spontaneously. But, to get the right body placement, we have to start with giving your arms something to do. Having something to lean on with your forearms, or a bit of railing to lightly hold onto like a ballerina gently grasps a barre, makes standing naturally so much more attainable. Once you can stand confidently, you can smile–a genuine smile. And, genuine you is always the one I’m trying to capture in your portraits!