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{guest post} tips on posing & creating visual tension

Our friend Ashley Whitmoyer creates some of the most interesting photos by using poses that create a lot of visual tension. She thinks outside the box and isn't afraid to try new things and it pays off for her in a dramatic way! I asked Ashley to give us some tips on posing so that the rest of us can push ourselves to try something new.

I was asked to give some pointers on creating visual tension and posing! It isn't as tough as it seems. I like to feed my creativity. In turn, I do a lot of work with models. So I will give tips for working with them and working with clients.

Working with models is fairly simple. They are experienced (or gaining experience) on posing themselves. Usually, I start off asking questions. How they feel posing themselves and/or how much direction they will need from me. I encourage models to pose in whatever way comes to mind. No matter how weird it may feel, look, or sound. Snap away and keep an eye out for something you love. I am the queen of the "don't move" command. Then if I feel something needs to be different I tweak it until we both perfect it for the shot! I highly encourage photographers to take the time to shoot with models. It's a great time to experiment and let your guard down!

Here's one example of a model who posed herself. I had her climb into the bush (yes we were in a bush), while she did her thing I was laying on the ground to accomplish this angle.

In the bushes by anwphotography.

These next tips can apply to any session. I use these a lot with couples, women, and seniors.

When a brilliant pose strikes you, WRITE IT DOWN! It always strikes me at random times. Those I've worked with know I usually have list of poses I thought up in my pocket.

Legs by anwphotography.

Use movement - walking, jumping, dancing, hair flipping, etc. When jumping, I tell my subjects to jump in the air and do what's natural. I do this on a lot of sessions and every single shot ends up unique. These 2 are great because the first one I planned, the second was what came natural to the model. Funny thing about that one is, it was our first shot - we tried to tweak it, but decided to stick with the original!

I know I have one similar to this shot... by anwphotography.

Down a hidden road by anwphotography.

movement by anwphotography.

Keep shooting, even when they don't realize you are! I often capture my subjects trying to adjust their hair, pose, outfit, etc. It usually turns out interesting to look at.

Alyssa by anwphotography.

Use what's around you to your advantage! Whether it be physically using it in your photo or letting it inspire you. This one, the branches in background looked like they were blown by the wind to me. Which is what inspired this image.

Dancing with the wind by anwphotography.

Rethink images that might not otherwise make the cut! Don't delete off your camera right away. Lately, I've been big on figuring out how to use shots that I might toss, but still look interesting. This photo almost made the chopping block because I wasn't happy with how it looked SOOC (straight out of camera.) Glad I kept it though!

179-2 by anwphotography.

Experiment with rotating images during post processing OR turning your camera upside down. It can turn an ordinary pose into extraordinary very quickly! First photo I shot with my camera upside down. Second photo I rotated it!

Tried a different angle, this was not rotated during PP by  anwphotography.

Everyone has a darker side by anwphotography.

Play with editing tools you might not use everyday (blurs, textures, tinting) and tap into a separate photo that you might be able to incorporate the elements into the current photo.

Sometimes when we try to balance everything, we crack under  pressure! by anwphotography.

Lastly, don't be afraid to break the rules! This goes for your photography and editing. Sometimes you have to throw out things you would use on a normal session to branch out a bit. Don't forget encouragement to any subject. A favorite line of mine, "the more uncomfortable it feels, the cooler it looks." This is the photo that sparked me into creative/artistic poses, which was inspired by watching an illusionist perform levitation.

Unconventional ways by anwphotography.

It doesn't have to make sense, just be interesting!

thanks Ashley! xoxo


  1. Thanks for the tips Ashley, you know I am a huge fan of your stuff..... I think you've turned into an amazing photographer!!

  2. Oh amazing. I love these! GREAT tips!

  3. Anonymous7/07/2010

    Great tips. Well written! Enjoyed the photos too! Gay N. Glover


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