To show how the variance of pose, stance and limb position can affect the reading of a photograph I needed my model to assume various standard positions (sitting, standing etc) and then vary the way in which they did this. This exercise would show that it is not only facial expression that affects the viewer’s response to a portrait.
The results are below and I shall briefly comment on them accordingly.
A very basic standing position using the sun bed as a prop. I think actually having only part of the bed in shot is a distraction and I should have used a chair or similar. The pose is relaxed but fairly formal due to the upright posture, legs crossed, slightly leaning in to the bed. The face is quite neutral and sunglasses hide the eyes.
A much more relaxed look with the subject more bent over and now the elbows resting on the bed. He now appears to be looking out over something and contemplating. The legs are no longer crossed and look more natural with a slight bend.
Boredom. ‘Are we finished yet?’ That is what this image communicates to me. Now slumped over the bed with head turned towards me and slightly covered by the forearms. The sunglasses hide any real expression.
Back to a relaxed posture although slightly unnatural leaning against something that looks like it may not take his weight. The legs are crossed again and the arms are relaxed across the stomach. His fingers are close and may be playing (communicating boredom again?). His look over the shoulder looks relaxed though as though he is engaging (even though we can see his eyes).
A typical expat pose round the pool. Feet up, shades on with the mobile phone in hand. Texting or playing Candy Crush? Elbows are resting comfortably against the armrests and feet are the same height as the hips making for a comfortable sitting position.
Suddenly with the phone at his ear and a shift in body position the phone call looks like it could be more than just a social one. He still has his elbows resting and feet up though so it can’t be too pressing.
With his legs crossed and the other chair out of shot it’s difficult to read what’s going on here. The shades are off and the phone has gone. Hand is on one knee. Still relaxed but not nearly as comfortable. His head is facing down as though staring at the floor. Was there bad news in the phone call?
Again, looking away from the camera gives a contemplative air. The hands are in a neutral position draped over his knees. With the right foot slightly raised it gives the impression that the subject may be baring some weight by rocking back slightly.
Another quite classic pose by the pool. Leaning quite heavily on his hands and arms with the legs crossed in relaxation. Looking away from the camera, in to the distance.
An unusual angle and unusual pose give some tension to the photograph. This looks quite uncomfortable for the subject and indeed is a very unnatural way to lie. Why is he lying like this?
The attempt to look more relaxed culminates in him looking even more uncomfortable. The head is not quite on the floor and neither are the hands, meaning he is supporting his weight with his body. The knee raised up looks like a token attempt to look more comfortable whereas the whole image comes across as looking anything but.
My favourite image is that of ‘poolside 3’, mainly because there is something brought in to the equation by the lack of dynamism in the pose. It’s very unnatural looking and the camera angle adds to the unease. I need to think harder about my direction of the model and getting what I need from the shoot in order to gain a satisfactory result from my assignment on this project. I also hadn’t realised quite how flat the lighting was for this sequence; in trying to hide from the glare of the sun I have headed in the opposite direction and my shots are lacking in contrast.