Welcome to "How to Stock," a short series of articles on how to do some stock basics. We'll ask the big names in stock for their tips and opinions on how to get the best out of your stock shoot!
How do I decide how to pose?
Try thinking about what kind of image you want to create. If you are dressed in a costume, then you have that as a starting place. Try to become the character you're representing. What kind of actions would they take (leaping, running, sneaking, flying)? How would they move around (slowly, crawling, jumping, skipping)? If you're like me and you're focused solely on the pose, sometimes you still have to get 'in character' to come up with ideas. I like making a list before each shoot of different poses I'd like to do so that I have some focus. A lot of times, I start with the list but once I get going the inspiration kind of carries me through the shoot. Also, props and objects can be very handy no matter what kind of stock you are shooting. Picking up something or adding an object to the shoot (like a chair) can immediately give you some ideas on how it could be used! Sometimes using a prop in an unexpected way can make some really interesting stock, too.
It depends on the costume and the setting. If I'm wearing a costume, I focus on the character I'm trying to portray and the rest just comes naturally. If not, I try to do dynamic poses that most people can't do, such as jumps, gymnastics and the like. If I doing nudes I do static poses that are more anatomy based. But generally I just try to do poses that are hard to come by.
Most of my poses come from getting a specific image or attitude stuck in my head and then trying to figure out how to recreate it as a reference. For instance, I may see someone hanging from the skid of a helicopter and think, "I wonder if I could recreate that in the studio?" Or I may see some other reference model's (i.e. stock artist's) image and say to myself, "What a cool image, I wonder what it would look like if several weapons were added?"
The factor that NEVER comes into the equation when I am thinking about a pose is "Would a real person in a real situation ever do this?" or "Is this pose technically correct?" There are plenty of reference manuals around to illustrate the correct way to adopt a Weaver shooting stance or how to execute a balestra, no one needs me for that. I'm much more interested in whether a given pose can help to tell stories.
How do I direct a model to pose?
I've just started doing shoots with a lot of other models and it's actually kind of hard to explain to someone what you want sometimes! I'd say it's good to bring references, be they other photos, drawings or sketches. Showing someone is sometimes easier than explaining it. If you and the model are okay with it, sometimes it's faster to just move someone physically into the position you want. Sometimes I will just stand in front of them and hit the pose I was looking for so they could mimic me and then we can adjust from there. Two people holding the same pose are going to look different because everyone is unique. Play off a model's strengths. If you see that they don't look comfortable being "the big strong scary person," try putting them into the "cute, playful person" shots and see if they fit it more naturally. I have found that if you can ferret out the stuff they are really comfortable doing, you will get the best shots!
Some photographers just don't seem to grasp that logic. Don't just explain the pose to the person, but also the emotion or character they're trying to portray. This ensures that the poses look real. If they still don't understand the pose, either draw a sketch or show it to them. It also helps a lot if you have a mirror in the shooting area, so the model can correct the pose on his/her own. Try to find a model that has some experience with posing, they're much easier to work with. Be friendly with your model, if they can trust you, they'll be more relaxed and therefore will pose better.
This one does not come up very often, as I tend to be the only person in the frame. [This is probably because most sane people don't really want to fall on their heads or hang upside down for half an hour at a stretch (the beautiful and talented *SenshiStock
being a wonderful exception, of course).] When the situation has arisen, though, I have found it useful to treat the shoot as an acting job; to work with the other model(s) to develop a character that he or she can embody and then move through various attitudes and actions that the character would be likely to do.
Is there a list somewhere of poses people want so I have ideas to try?
People will always be willing to take suggestions if you ask them. If you're at a loss for what to do next, ask your friends and watchers for some ideas! I have a very large list of suggestions on my front page and I definitely encourage other models to go through it for inspiration. Like I said before, everyone moves and looks differently so even if two models did the same type of pose, each would have it's own feel and style. Sometimes I look through artwork on DA and other sites to get a feel for the types of poses people are trying to draw. That can also give me lots of ideas!
I don't have a list per say, but I do a request week every once in a while, where people can submit their wishes for poses (for a limited period of time) and then I shoot them when I have the time. It really helps if you run out of stock ideas. It also attracts all kind of weird fetishists... but I'm sure *NichelleJNolan
can tell you about that better then I can.
Yes, I keep an informal list of specific poses that people have mentioned would be useful to them. Since I only get to shoot new stuff very occassionally and since most of these shoots are actually related to other projects, I try to see if there are any poses that I can work into the shoots I do. This does not always come together (e.g. it is hard to work a Norman crossbowman into a shoot for a sci-fi character hanging upside-down and picking a lock), but I do try to see if there is any cross-over.
How do I make sure my poses are good and usable?
It is important that you have decent lighting and clear photographs. Even if it's just a pose, a grainy image will be harder to use. If you specifically would like to make pose reference photography like I do, form fitting clothing that is not black is very helpful. You can also do nude stock, but please be careful if you're jumping around.
I have found that there really aren't many poses that are not useful to someone, somewhere. So long as you're making stock that's clear and accessible, people will use it!
It's nice if the pose has an idea behind it. If you can imagine how someone would use it, then it's probably usable. But you'd be surprised by what people can use in their artworks. Some of the poses I uploaded just for fun turned out to be very useful. I guess in the end you don't really know if it's usable until you upload it. Making good poses is easier: no awkward cropping, no blurry shots, no tiny pictures, no Facebook profile shots and for the love of goddess, no crotch shots. While portraits can be useful, most artists either need good anatomy (hands, feet), facial expressions or full body shots. And if you're not sure what your watchers would find useful, ask them.
Ummmm, I'm pretty sure that anyone who has seen my reference images already knows that I don't worry too much about whether my stuff is either 'good' or 'usable'.
As I mentioned, I tend to get images stuck in my head and then I try to recreate them. These images usually have a lot to do with how light hits objects or fabric or how things look whilst in motion or falling. I try to make the image the best quality I can under the circumstances, but whether it is considered 'good' or 'usable' is usually beyond me.
Thank you very much, everyone!How to Stock 1- Setting up a Shooting Area
And thanks for reading, everybody! I hope you learned something you can go put into practice! Look for the next article soon!