Tips for Body Language in Content Advertising
Any business person who's been photographed learns very quickly why professional models make the kind of money they do because it's hard to look natural with a camera pointed at you.
But we've got you covered.
Tips for body language in photographs:
It all starts with being prepared. Find out who will be in the photo and what the photo should say. For example, a photo of the CEO and Chairman will likely need very different body language than a first-year teacher with one of her third graders. What are you pulling from wardrobe? Although it may be easy to change outfit colors in Photoshop it is just easier to get it right from the start. Consider the target audience that will be viewing the image, what would they think of the outfit? What does the outfit say in style and in conjunction with the way the subject moves?
Most people are used to snapping vacation photos or taking a selfie at a party, so it can be surprising how long a photo shoot can take. It's important to set time expectations from the start. It's hard to get an impatient executive to look happy when the process is taking longer than expected, and she's late for a meeting. Arms can get crossed and foreheads become mountains and valleys when an executive is made late by the creative team. Five minute VIP portrait appointments are common in big cities so it helps to have a stand in model prior to the real talent arriving.
Most people who have never been on a photo shoot don't understand the nuances of lighting, positioning, juxtaposition, and background necessary to get a quality photo that positively reflects on the brand. Give the subject a few minutes to adjust to the lights surrounding them, the camera pointed at them, and people telling them to turn this way or tilt your head. The worst thing a photographer can do is hide behind the camera. Don't use the camera as a shield, use some psychology instead and try to truly connect with your subject. When we work in a controlled studio environment we often times find ourself standing next to the camera or close to the subject in order to carry a conversation. Sometimes I let my first assistant push the shutter button...OMG...yes I said it! Sometimes it is better to be the talent coach that is just as vulnerable as the subject instead of trying to be the annoying alpha dominate photographer who appears as a talk lens to the subject being photographed. Im sure there are kids in this world that think camera lenses talk.....time to change this. It's hard to relax and smile in this environment, so a bit of extra time to allow the subject to adjust can make the end product better.
4. Arms, Hands, Fingers
When a camera comes out, people suddenly become aware they have appendages and don't quite know what to do with them. Help the subject find a natural position for their arms such as putting one hand in a pocket or leaning an arm on top of a bookshelf. Hands and fingers are especially tricky as you will find some people could be hand models and others....well.... The hand positioning can look quite strange when it is not rotated the right way or looks much larger than the head due to foreshortening. Pay attention to the cuffs on anyone wearing a suit. Learn that the shirt can only extend outside the suit about 1/4"-1/2" or so before it becomes odd. If you are seeing both full hands in an image pay close attention to the finger placement as those little digits look like more than 10 when you are seeing them all together. Placement of the arms, hands and fingers is something that should be practiced constantly until you learn what works and what doesn't.
As far as messaging with these appendages, you better bet they bring meaning. Crossing arms is powerful but also controlling and defensive. Finger tips point and our eye has a natural way of looking at where they are pointed even if the subject is not trying to point. One hand touching or holding another is often times a self soothing gesture and is often captured in video footage. Hand on face is more often an expression of thought or concern. While we are talking meaning, don't forget to watch those forehead and other facial muscles. The facial muscles are not easily controlled by the conscious mind and can reflect a lot in the final image.
Plan on doing a few different shots. Have one standing in front of a logo sign and one sitting on the edge of the desk, for example. Help the subject try a few different facial expressions - some smiling, some serious, and some in between. This variety will make it easier to pick the photo that communicates the correct message. However, doing several different shots take time, so be clear up front with the subject what the photo session will entail. Your direction and dialog during a production is just as important as pushing that shutter button. From a creative directors perspective I prefer to hire a photographer that knows how to interact with the subject rather than getting the person that has the nicest camera. Personality of the photographer and tone on the set yields the end result more than anything.
Body language is critical to communicating the brand message in a photograph, but with a bit of patience and encouragement, most people can make the right impression in a photo.
If you are looking for other ways to communicate your brand story please, contact us.
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