Posted by Glyn Wade
Okay, so you’ve mastered the rules of photography, you’re well up on aperture, shutter speed and your ISO; exposure compensation is your specialist subject and you know that bokeh isn’t the Japanese word for dinosaur. You know how to set up a tripod, you’re a master with your flash and you’ve managed to assign a button on your camera to control your depth of field.
You know your way around a camera and your accessories which is great but all of this means nothing if you don’t know the correct stance to use when taking pictures. You need balance, poise and the ability not to look a fool as most of the time you’ll be in a public place.
Some club members kindly volunteered to pose using their favourite stances utilising tried and tested techniques and they are pictured below. This is not a comprehensive list although it’s pretty close but you can of course use these and adapt them for any situations they might not suit. Here are twelve of the best.
1. Now I know you all love your macro and you want to get close to subjects on the ground so here is Rob demonstrating the best way to ‘get down low’.
Rob is utilising the floor to keep his camera steady and is certainly getting close to his subject. His appendages are all part of the stance too as he is letting people know that they should stay away and not disturb his subject. Getting control of your space whilst taking pictures and stopping people from ruining them is a difficult art to master but Rob has got it down to perfection here.
2. Sometimes you might want to take a picture without people knowing you’re taking it. Taking pictures on the sly isn’t just for private detectives but it is usually for human subjects but could be if you’ve sneaked your camera into somewhere it clearly states you shouldn’t take pictures. I would never advocate you breaking these rules but, a little tip, switch your flash off.
Here is Richard taking a picture of two people (not in shot) who were doing a Peppa Pig puzzle at Trentham Gardens:
The Sly Fox
I bet the jigsaw junkies never noticed Richard anywhere near let alone realised that he was clicking his shutter at this point. Minimalist legs apart pose reduces his height and hence visibility. Genius.
3. When you’re amongst other photographers it is important that you have something better than them to show your superiority. They probably won’t get to see your pictures so you should try and highlight an item of gear that shows off how you could take better photographs than them. While you could have an elasticated strap that means your camera bounces back if you drop it you might have to do it a few times until every other photographer has seen your fancy accessory but the easiest thing to show off is a really big lens.
Here’s Claire showing us how:
The Lens Envy
While side-on viewers will be jealous of the length of this lens, Claire has perfected the art of gaining respect and envy from those in front of her by completely obscuring her face. Not something I like her doing personally but I’m sure you can see why she did it and understand why all the other photographers packed up and went home.
Further impressiveness stems from the fact that this lens weighs only half an ounce as it’s made of corrugated cardboard but can you tell? Hell no! Not with Claire appearing to require the handle underneath and holding it like it’s the weight of seven woolly mammoths. PLUS, that’s actually a full size tiger she’s dangling beneath this gargantuan glass. Very impressive stuff.
4. Often, your stance will require balance on an uneven surface and, as you would use your kit bag to counterbalance your tripod, so can you use your kit bag to balance yourself to enable you to get a steady shot. Imagine being precariously poised atop a precipice as a prehistoric pterosaur prevaricates past and you’re swaying in the wind results in an out of focus shot of this once in a lifetime opportunity.
If only you’d had a bag to steady yourself you could have sold the shot for millions. Here is John in a similar position, standing on grass, shooting an owl strapped to a tree:
The Balancing Bertie
Just look at the bravery of the man as he eschews the solid corrugated surface placed there for his use and all thanks to having a kit bag the size of France to enable him to hold his camera steady. Brilliant.
5. One of the best pieces of photography advice I ever had was to use whatever is around you as a tripod. This could be a wall, one of those doughnut peaches or even a tripod. But what if you need to use yourself as a tripod, what is around to use?
Here Richard has taken advantage of a plinth or, as it is more commonly known, some old concretey brick type thingy:
The Concrete Tripod
Actually, you will notice that Richard is also using the Balancing Bertie here but it is the superlative use of brickwork that we should concentrate on. Just look at the balance, the poise and, let’s be honest, the sheer agility of the man as he gets the perfect shot of another Willfield member. Superb.
6. It can be quite a battlefield out there as you compete with other photographers to get the best shot. There are no second places in photography, winning is everything and you need to battle your way to the top.
You could learn what a judge is looking for and follow the rules of photography or you could REALLY battle your way to the top. I won’t advocate violence to get other photographers out of the way so you get the best shot but looking really threatening usually suffices.
To this end, here I am:
The Reservoir Dog
No-one messes with me when I use this pose I can tell you. I completely obliterated four Canon owners in one go with this one and they consequently took up macrame instead. I guess you could say I saved them.
7. Without getting heightist, it is easier for some of our members to shoot relatively short things still looking up at them than others but even the more vertically challenged member sometimes needs to get down low.
Here is Claire again, taking a picture of my knees. Weirdo.
The Muddy Caterpillar
The most important facet of this stance is not that Claire is using her elbows to steady her camera, nor is it the counterbalance measures she’s using with her raised legs, nor is it the solid horizontal(ish) stability.
No, what matters is that she has chosen to forgo the dry path nearby and find some muddy grass so that she gets to wash all her clothes when she gets home. This is a clever photographer’s trick so subtle that even I haven’t got a clue what the point is. Remember it well.
8. It is often necessary to blend in with your surroundings, particularly when shooting wildlife. This may be because you don’t want to disturb them or scare them away or it may be because you don’t want to be attacked or eaten. Bear in mind though that a lot of animals have a great sense of smell so you’ll probably get eaten anyway. No-one said photography was easy.
Here’s Richard again blending in with some arachnids:
The Constipated Spider
It may be difficult to spot him amongst the plethora of spiders in this picture but, if you look closely, he’s the only one holding a camera. Can you see him? I thought not. That’s how brilliant this stance is. Well done Richard.
9. There are times when you might need help with your photography but maybe you’re afraid to ask. You know or suspect you’re in the company of an expert and you’ll probably recognise them as they’ll be using one of the stances above. If you saw someone doing The Flounder for example you would be certain you were in the presence of greatness.
So how do you get their attention and coerce them into assisting you without the embarassment of actually asking them? Easy, try this.
The Bewildered BooBoo
Halfway to being a Reservoir Dog but just look where I’m looking! It’s not even through the viewfinder! What a fool you think. The finger isn’t on the button so it’s not a Sly Fox, it’s just someone looking confused and requiring advice. This almost worked but I was lacking a Balancing Bertie and fell over shortly after this picture was taken meaning I got medical assistance rather than camera advice. My advice? Don’t fall over.
10. How often have you been at a music festival and wanted to take pictures disguised as a tent? Quite a lot I imagine. What you need is a honcho which is a cross between a hoody and a poncho. Genius.
Here’s Claire again:
The Tricky Tepee
When she isn’t using it to disguise herself as a tent Claire rents out her honcho for people to use as a tent so there’s a little sideline earning to be had there too. Tremendous.
11. Needs no explanation really:
The Confused Klutz
No hope. Probably useful for something though.
12. Finally for now the most important point in your stance arsenal. It is IMPERATIVE that people know you’re a professional, it is obligatory that everyone thinks you know what you are doing but they will never have an inkling no matter what stance you use unless you stick your backside out. That’s right, thrust it out behind you, knock things over with it, send people flying; it doesn’t matter. Get it out there!
You won’t see a professional photographer taking a picture without their bum prominently stuck out proudly behind them. It all stems from ye olden days when cameras had a sheet that the photographers put their heads under when they took the shot. The only way to do this was to get down and stick your bum out. Here’s Richard:
The Prominent Posterior
This picture just screams professional and is a virtual guarantee of photographic employment. Anyone would want to hire Richard to do their wedding, portrait shots or shoot their children if they saw him pose like this. In fact, this is probably the best advert he has ever had for his work and I will be able to charge him commission for all the extra work he will no doubt get just from people seeing this picture. You owe me sir!