In this short post, you’ll learn how to pose and light a high school senior girl in a standing pose using a seamless paper background.

We’ll talk about the background, the lighting setup – and how you can create the same setup – and then we’ll walk through the pose itself and how to get someone into this pose. I’ll even give you the words to use when posing your subject.

The Background

109” Wide Superior Seamless Paper – Scarlet (Make this an affiliate link)

The Lighting

This is a five-light setup. See Lighting Setup #X in the Lighting Guide. Also check out, Lights, Camera, Action – The Definitive Guide to Portable Studio Lighting for more detailed lighting help.

Main Light: Larson 14” x 48” Soff-Strip with a Photogenic DL1200 Powerlight

Fill Light: White Lightning 1800

Kicker: Larson 9” x 24” Soff-Strip with a Photogenic 375 Powerlight Hairlight: Photoflex 9” x 24” Stripbox with a Photogenic 375 Powerlight

Background Light: Photogenic 750 with a grid and gel.


The Pose:

Obviously this is an in-studio standing pose of a high school girl.

For years I would tell a standing subject to, “Put your weight on your back foot.” But after saying those same words for a million and thirty-three images one day I thought to myself, “What the hell, why does their weight always have to be on the back foot? I’m tired of that.”

In this image she has her weight on her front/left foot and that leg is almost straight. Then I told her to, “Lean forward a bit and bring your right foot on to your toe, kinda like your taking a step forward. Now hang your thumbs in your back pockets.” Voila.

Now notice a few of the finer points of the image.

Notice her body is turned away from the light – she’s roughly 45-degrees to the camera. Having her lean forward with her thumbs in her back pockets and then turn her face back towards the main light –in this image the main light is at camera right instead of the typical camera left – adds that curve to her back.

You want to stay from pointy angles and in this case her arm/elbow at this angle could have created a pointed elbow, which doesn’t look good. But here her heavy sweater softened the point of her elbow.

I’m not altogether crazy about her right shoulder. The fact she has that right hand in her back pocket makes her shoulder look big. However, the fact that her hand is where it is means that her waist area is clear which shows off her trim figure.

What if she’d had a tummy that stuck out? You could let that right arm hang straight down which would make it blend together with her tummy and camouflage it a bit. Or you could even bring that arm across the tummy – possibly awkward but not totally un-model-like.

I like the brightness of the background, which provides separation and shows off her figure. And I like the monochromatic color scheme with her sweater matching the background.

Her eyes are not exactly as I would like them though. I always want the iris of the eye to be centered – with equal amounts of white on either side. The fact that her body is 45-degrees to the camera and she’s turning her face back towards the main light means she’s kinda looking at the camera out of the corners of her eyes. All the white is on one-side of the iris.

Is this a small thing? Well maybe – except that the eyes are the most important part of the image. How could I have fixed it? Could have decreased her angle to the camera, which would have meant she didn’t need to turn her face as far to camera right to face the light. I also could have asked her to, “Look here,” and held my right finger up slightly to the right of the camera. She’d still appear to be looking at the camera but it would have centered her eyes.

Here’s what important to remember. Don’t get her into this position and then simply click the shutter three times and call it variety. You have her in a nice pose now tweak it a little.

“Pivot back towards me just a little bit. Awesome.” Click.

“Let your arm hang straight down, put the palm of your hand on your thigh.” This would hide her right arm entirely along that side of her body and eliminate the shoulder problem. Unfortunately it also might make her look like she’d lost one arm in a terrible accident at the pickle factory.

“How about a little more smile? Beautiful.” Click.

Final take away? If you like this pose, study it, learn it, practice it. Don’t do it once and then forget about it. Use it once on every session until it becomes a part of your subconscious posing repertoire. And remember, it doesn’t have to be in front of a seamless background in-studio to work. Use it outside and on location.

Do you shoot team sports? This is a great volleyball or basketball individual pose. Instead of that left hand being in their back pocket you have it holding the ball against her hip. Her right hand on her other hip. (Since she probably won’t have a back pocket in in her uniform shorts.)

If you do shoot team sports – or would like to start – check out this cool bonus; Team Sports and Proms Posing Guide.

That’s a wrap. Post your questions or comments below the post. Check out the resource page if you want more information equipment. And check out, Lights, Camera, Action – The Definitive Guide to Portable Studio Lighting if you want more detailed lighting information.

And finally, how can I help you? I can’t know what you need help with if you don’t ask. Shoot me an email or post your question in the comments below.

Have a great day. Go take great pictures.

What Can I Help You With?

Do you have questions? Do you need help with posing or lighting or equipment? That’s what I’m here for so please just ask. Shoot me an email and I’ll get back to you as soon as I’m able.

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