Art of Posing: Improv Style

*** Time to get your photo-geek on. ***
wpid-step_afrika_group-2011-03-19-05-001.jpg Members of Step Afrika! & I have much in common: home town similarities, ambitions for future goals, and the daring nature for a improv. Touring the country, they awe viewers with their dynamic stage performances. Good times, good times.

I wanted to create a photograph that “popped”, reflecting their 3D-dance quality (sorry, DDR).  The results made me blush.  See the 3D pop-up?  Took 10 years to figure that out.

Standing centerline on the main drag in Billings, MT at some un-Godly hour, I discovered:

  • There’s more than one stop light in Billings. Really. There’s culture, art, music, and good food in Montana. And lots of friendly people with a surplus of free downtown parking to boot. Highway patrol smile nicely when they smile handing you a warning ticket. Got clocked doing +7 mph over limit, cruise control set +6 mph. Seriously?!?!
  • 1/20 sec shutter is the new 1/500 flash sync. Lingering with a shutter speed under limbo land, finding “pretty” available {street} light is easy.
  • Shoot at f/2, not wide open. Carrying good depth of field with a good shot ensures everyone is in focus. It’s easy to shoot at f/1.4 with my fav Nikon 85mm. However if one person in a group shot is out of focus, the image heads to the trash. My tip: fill the frame with a foursome with the 85 at f/2 if they are standing in a line an you’re fine. Think family formals at weddings with my tips here.
  • Dancing girls don’t need posing tips. The classic hand-on-the-hip doesn’t get old. Perfected in front of the mirror in 6th grade, me thinks?
  • Dancing guys need posing tips. “Be yourself, but don’t look too tough. Chin, slightly down,” I say.  Jay-Z looks down, serious. Wannabes look up, proud.  I prefer the former.
  • Get down with the get down. Shoot at waist level. Why? Medium-format fashion photographers shot this way for years to minimize distortion when using wider-angle lenses. The trend stands strong today.
  • If it ain’t broke, why fix it? Pretty sure I was in a similar pose at senior prom (took a Rent-a-Date, discounted). Cheesy pose went somethin’ like this: Girls on the end, guys face inward to gals. In this athletic shoot, a slight distance apart creates tension and defines muscle-ly shapes.
  • Don’t let a hand hang. Subtle details like hand positioning make or break a shot.  Devil in the details.
  • Dicey locations create trust. When in doubt, shoot in the middle of the street. We each have other’s back, so immediately there’s strong trust. You won’t waste time and will be force to think fast. Creativity likes that. Clients will appreciate the zest and energy.

Long story short: Get down with the get down. Be nice. Run with scissors!

If you like what you see, want to hear more, I’m all yours. Take me to lunch in Denver March 21-25 and get at least a 60-minute-no-holds-barred personal mentoring session (a $100 per hour value)!

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Final specs for the image: Camera: Nikon D700; focal Length 85mm; f/stop: 2; shutter: 1/20. You don’t need no stinkin’ flash, man. Just a cheap tripod.

5 Responses to “Art of Posing: Improv Style”

  1. laurence kim — March 19, 2011 @ 8:57 am (#)

    nice shot and great tips rj!

  2. Brooke — March 21, 2011 @ 3:03 pm (#)

    I am JUST getting out of shooting wide open – and learned that the hard way! 😉 Great information, thank you!

  3. Dionne Eleby — March 22, 2011 @ 1:42 pm (#)

    WOW!!!!!! I LOVE IT! Our meeting you was not happenstance! We will see each other in the future(perhaps another photo shoot!)

  4. Pingback: The Hit List: 33 Photo Tips & Tutorials from 2011 | Kern-Photo

  5. troy — February 27, 2012 @ 9:10 pm (#)

    Man i’m glad I found this photographer. Talk about advice, this guy is unglaublich!

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