5 Tips – To Pose, or not To Pose?

A few people mentioned to me that they’d like to know more about “posing” people, and in on of the McFade Training Taster workshops last year, I covered some ideas – maybe ones which surprised people.

The “by the book” posing techniques will produce just that – by the book, traditional shots of people. They remind me of those Victorian family portraits, everyone looking stiff and uncomfortable.

With creative photography, the McFade approach, we’re after something a bit more interesting – wanting to reveal something about the person rather than duplicating tried and tested formulae.  So these tips will hopefully help reveal a few of our techniques….

1 – Be friendly, fun and open

When taking photographs of people, you need to bear in mind that they are sentient objects, ones which move, talk – yet more importantly, have feelings and react to how you behave around them probably more than anything else you do.

So Tip One is to be friendly, interested and try to establish some kind of “rapport” with your sitter.

2 – Give Positive Feedback

If someone does something which looks great, tell them; tell them they look amazing – this positive reinforcement will enourage them to do “more”.

If they are doing everything wrong and look terrible, don’t tell them – but make suggestions, point out something you “like” – usually hair, shoes, clothes… it should be obvious. One example was a girl who totally hated the camera, to the point she nearly ran away… she had amazing auburn hair. I said I liked it, and did she ever play with it – you see girls chewing the “twiddling” with it… she said yes, I told her to “twiddle away”… 5 great, fun shots straight away.

3 – Show them the pics

Add to the feedback by showing them the pic on the back of your camera – if you’re getting results they don’t like, you need to know ASAP – if they don’t like them, ask them “what specifically” they don’t like, or what they would change. It gets them away from just being negative, to making them think about what it is they don’t like – you can then change it!

The positive result is for them to love the shot, and this happens more often than the negative result. You get them on side – they start to trust you – you can start to tell them to do “stuff” and they do it!

4 – Get them acting

If you’re running out of ideas, then ask them what their favourite film is – or if they watch Corrie – or anything that gets a reaction. Get them to tell you which characters they like… then get them to pretend to be them!

I love Goodfellas and Taxi Driver for guys – everyone loved their “You lookin’ at Me” impersonation, or Joe Pesci’s “How am I Funny” monologue…

You’ll get people who react badly, that is a shot in itself – screwed up faces are fantastic! Then you’ll get those who just love it, get acting and make all kinds of gestures!

5 – Move regularly or change props

If you’re on location then you’ve got the beauty and challenge of infinitely varying backgrounds. When you exhaust the potential of one background, and it always happens, don’t soldier on pointlessly – move on to somewhere new. Even 10 paces can create something totally refreshing.

You can’t really do this in some studios, so the equivalent is to throw in new props – this is why you want to be getting them to bring a change of clothes – shades, cigars for props, hats etc.

A quick change is magical!


So it’s not a list of “stand with your body at 45 degrees and look over your shoulder, hand on hip and chin up slightly tilt head to left…..” kind of instructions.

People are people – so it’s up to you to treat them as humans rather than maneqins. Given the right encouragement, you can develop a shoot pretty fast and get great results.

Standing in one position, in silence, twiddling with lights and your camera is going to leave your sitter cold and uninterested, so get stuck in with your worst jokes and best flattery…. it’ll transform how you shoot!

Learn more in August

If you want to know more, we’re running a Flash Portraiture session in August where we’ll offer more advice and tips – you can book here now!

Leeds Musician Photography Shoot

Leeds Musician Photography

Wind Farms are popular locations for landscape photographers – the moving turbine blades offer a dynamic feel to the shot, the rigid towers stand out of the ground like huge white trees…. but I’ve not really seen many musician photography shoots at them.

So we went up with Sam, a professional saxophonist, arranger and band leader, to create some new profile shots for him. The sky was initially pretty over cast and grey, which gave us a really moody look – using flash to create dramatic light on Sam and underexposing the background by a stop or 3.

Then it started to change – we initially did some silhouette photographs, followed by some 3-point lighting setups with the sun in the background.

All in all, a great location and proof that even in dull conditions, you can get magic location shots up there, and when the sun comes out… well it’s pretty magical.


What does McFade do anyway????

What this Leeds Photographer does…

Medding with smart phones takes you to some strange places….

ON this occasion I found an app which did little “mind map” type diagrams, which I thought would be fun for the website… I was white flag waving after 5 minutes of meddling on a little phone screen, so hit google and found “XMind”, a full blown program which does all this kind of thing. It’s free – give it a go… and quick to use.

So started off by plotting out Mcfade Photography – see what I actually do, as people do ask from time to time. Which is nice of course.

Here are the results for our Leeds Photography business… it’s not really finished yet, but these things never are – with every new idea, a new map update’s needed

Click to see full size in a new window

Ok – so next I thought about the training side of things – maybe these things would help focus what is taught on our workshops….

Here’s what happened…

Not sure whether they’re any use to anyone other than McFade Photography, but if you were ever in doubt as to what’s on offer, it’s all here!

Relax…. and escape faster!

Thought for the day….

The people who hate their photo being taken invariably have to stand in front of the camera for far longer than others…. (because they’re tense, look scared and take ages to get a half decent shot as a result)

If you’re one of these, just relax, have fun and don’t get so hung up about it – THAT’s how you get away from it

Castlefield – Manchester

Castlefield – Central Manchester

A more imposing set for a northern city shoot is hard to find.

Castlefield has a mix of huge bridges, canals, brick, steel, pagodas, bars, locks, tow paths and bars….

Add to that the imposing Beetham Tower looming over you constantly, you’ve got an incredible array of backgrounds to play with.

This shoot was just for stock, creating some new images to fuel the portfolio, whilst gathering inspiration for future shoots with business folk and models – it is of course the location of my 2011 shoot with Kelloggs.

So here it is – a few shots of the mighty bridges and surroundings


20 years ago, I was a fresher at UMIST, the highly regarded science and technology uni in Manchester – so when I was invited back by Trish to shoot some photos of the new Student Council, I jumped at the chance.

Proper nostalgia – I’d not actually stepped into the Union since 2005 when I graduated!

Anyway – here they are, all very excited to be photographed….. actually, nothing could be further from the truth 🙂

We got a few group shots in the Union lobby, then did individual shots of them with a white background, for promo/flyer/twitter use, and some with different backgrounds from around the Union building.

For the camera nerds – 2 flashes, both with softboxes…. mostly with the 70-200 F2.8L IS on a Canon 5D…