Last week I revealed a pretty big piece of my style as a photographer – I revealed how I start my sessions:
“I never like to assume that the people I’m photographing (even if they’re repeat clients!) are comfortable in front of the camera. As the photographer, I’m the director – it’s my job to make sure the client looks their best in front of my lens, and in their final prints. I don’t get as specific as talking about body types, but when I go over posing tips for women, men, and children at the beginning of the session I’m coming from a point of explaining that the subjects are 3D and my camera is going to capture them as 2D, so there are certain best-practices they can follow during the shoot to flatter themselves!”
So here we are… round two. Let’s get started!
This is the first thing I go over before I EVER.START.SHOOTING. Men tend to be the carrier of… phones, car keys, snacks for the kids, pacifiers, wallets… you name it, they probably have it in their magical pockets. Ladies… do you ever feel like we can NEVER fit anything into our pockets? Well, men are just the opposite – I swear those pockets are never ending. I’m guilty of always asking my husband to hold things for me… there’s just no room in mine!
Keeping things in your pockets during a shoot is the number one thing you SHOULDN’T do for your session. If you take nothing else away from this article, at least take everything out of your pockets at the beginning of the session. Why? Because things-in-pockets create awkward bulges where you really don’t want them in the final image…
Ladies usually have layers and accessories to their outfit and can use these pieces to their advantage – touch a necklace, pull on a scarf or a jacket, etc. Men don’t typically have the same advantage nor will they look as natural tugging on a scarf. Since men aren’t typically popping a hip during the session, it’s important for them to keep their hands occupied to give them that extra dimension and ‘realistic’ nature.
I typically suggest men vary between tucking thumbs or fingers into pockets. Luckily, those pockets are empty now, so there’s lots of room to use them in the shoot. I don’t recommend putting the entire hand into the pocket – you will look like you lost your hand and now your pocket is bulging again.
Tuck a thumb in and keep your fingers open or in a loose fist on the outside, or tuck the fingers in and keep the thumb on the outside. Do this with one hand… or both! Switch it up as you’re comfortable.
Hold the hand of your kid, hold your spouses’s hand, wrap an arm around someone. You are the ‘glue’ of the family photo… you literally will be holding things together.
Men can stand straight on to the camera – it just works for them. Tuck your hands in your pockets, square your shoulders, and stand with your feet slightly apart and boom… you’re golden. You’ve got it made.
Standing with your feet slightly spaced gives you a relaxed, comfortable, and dimensional look. Just like the ladies are creating angles and depth by popping a hip, bending a joint, hands on hips, etc., you’re creating your own depth by spacing your feet (slightly… we’re not sumo-wrestling here), tucking a hand in a pocket to add space between your arm and body. You’re doing the same thing as the ladies are, but on a much less exaggerated scale.
This is probably just my personal preference as a photographer, but I love images when the men are looking at the women/kids/etc. It may be because of my next point (read on!) and men have a harder time with accomplishing this in front of a lens, but I also tend to be a photographer who is seeking emotion in my images. It’s not often I’ll direct my subjects to look directly into the camera, although it does happen. I will ask for individuals (rarely a group shot unless it’s totally posed) to look directly into the lens.
I find that men often have a hard time making eye contact with a lens. I could launch into a hypothesis of why I think this is, and I would guess that it has something to do with the fact that women, on average, tend to spend more time scrutinizing themselves in a mirror, etc., but I’ll stay on track, here.
I find that men – unless directed to look directly into the camera – tend to look just off to the side. This can sometimes give the appearance of ‘eye-rolling’ or looking off into the distance… but not in a thoughtful way… more in an “I don’t want to be here” way.
I know it’s unintentional. I know being in front of a camera is hard. Why do you think I’m behind it!? I would give this same piece of advice to any of my subjects (stay tuned for the kid posing tips!), but suggest the men look at the kids, the spouse, the dog. It gives you a strong sense of being ‘present’ and engaged in the session and your photographer can direct you when you should look – making that connection that much stronger.
I’m not talking about the ‘look at the camera and say cheese’ smile that we’ve all (regardless of gender) come to expect when stepping in front of the camera. I’m talking about the ‘I’m having fun… oh, sorry… I forgot you were photographing’ smile.
I find that it is not as common for the man to book a shoot. 9 times out of 10 I’m contacted initially by a woman. So when we get to the session, I sometimes find that the man is less comfortable, less sure, and less-smiley. It takes them longer to warm up. By asking them to look at their family (see above) this can really help ease some of the initial tension.
My style, though, isn’t the posed-and-smile photo setups. I like for my families to play, dance, run, jump, tickle, laugh, play tag, and so on. I like my families to leave the shoot wondering if they actually got any photos because they forgot that someone was actually documenting them. I like them to look at their photos later on and exclaim ‘Oh! I didn’t even know you got that!’.
Those are the moments that are worth blowing up on your wall. Those are the moments when Dad is smiling. Those are the moments when everyone looks natural. So don’t be afraid to smile – don’t be afraid to turn away – don’t be afraid to forget that I’m there. If I need you to do something… I’ll direct you. Trust me. 🙂
All you have to do is be present.
casey and her camera is an Indianapolis Family Photographer specializing in family, couple, lifestyle, senior, and wedding photography for Indianapolis, Indiana and the surrounding areas.
Apr 1, 2015
Love these tips! Great! I hear that sometimes men can be the hardest ones to deal with…lol
I haven’t come across any men who wholeheartedly don’t want to be there, I just find that they’re not as ‘into’ it, per say. It’s pretty easy to loosen them up – just get them involved in what’s happening!