16 May, 2008

Dear Natalie: Composition.

Hi Natalie!

Your photos are always so beautiful. When you're doing portraits (especially family portraits & when working with children) do you suggest poses for the people you are working with? What's your secret to keeping your photos looking natural and nicely composed?

Hello Friend,

That's a great question as well as a wonderful compliment! THANKS! For the most part I try VERY hard to create natural looking images. I really strive to capture the essence of my subject. I love to capture moments. REAL MOMENTS with REAL EMOTION. That's my favorite thing about being a photographer. I also think that's what sets me apart from many other photographers out there. . . That said, I would be lying through my teeth if I didn't admit to posing pictures. PARTICULARLY for a couple/family/bride who may not be very comfortable in front of the camera. Some direction will certainly put your subject at ease.

Here's the formula. Start with some direction, like this:
Obviously they didn't just walk up to that PERFECT place all by themselves and get into that PERFECT position without a little help. . . or a lot of help . . . from me. BUT whenever I do things like this, I'm looking for something ELSE. Something OTHER THAN the pose I've created. I'm searching to find the shot within the shot. . . the shot within the contrived pose. Like THIS:

A REAL moment. Sure I encouraged it a bit, but then I stepped back and waited for the magic. I love this shot, minus the mad edge burning. . . I need to loose that. . .but I'm definitely too lazy on a Friday afternoon to mess with that.

So there's the formula with adults. Kids? TOTALLY a different story. TOTALLY.

You'll NEVER find me posing a kid. AT ALL. It would SO backfire. With kids you just stay patient and grab what you can when you can. I'll encourage them, you bet your bottom dollar. "Hey, look inside my lens and see if Tinker Bell is still in there. She came for a visit this afternoon." Or "Hold Daddy's hand, he's feeling lonely and needs some special love from you!" Or "Don't smile. . . don't you DARE smile." That's when you end up with shots like THIS:

This isn't the greatest shot ever, but this little honey's mom and dad told me that they don't have ANY pictures of her smiling. . . and well, I got like 40 . . . so something in this equation is adding up. . . and quite nicely.

Well there you have it. . . short question, LONG answer.



PS- Happy shooting!!!


Christy said...

You have no idea how much this helps me right now! I am shooting my friends wedding in a few weeks and feeling rather nervous about the entire 'posing' aspect. I have just a few weddings under my belt second shooting, so haven't really had to lead on my own.

Thanks :)

taryn said...

natalie, thanks for answering this question. it really helps a lot!! you're my hero. i wanna be like you when i grow up...lol.

Anonymous said...

Great advise. LOVE that you have 40 smiling shots. Rad.

Amber Shumake said...

Hi Natalie!
Thanks, that is awsome advice. I was wondering if you could tell me what you thought of this photo. I am up for any opinions/thoughts and I would definatly want an opinion from You!



Natalie. said...


That is a nice photo. Good exercise of the rule of thirds. There are some simple things we could discuss about the image. Email me if you're interested.