observed by Diane » photo journal for those who enjoy vignettes of an ordinary life

Forced Poses … Just Sayin’

You know, one of the things I have never liked whether I’m in front of the camera or behind it, are forced poses. I know I’m not alone in this because others I have talked with have said the same thing. I often cruise around Flickr partly because I get inspiration from some of the talented people there but then there are times I really get aggravated by what I see. I just came from Flickr and was tickled pink to see some really delightful images such as this or this or this moment.  But then I came across an image that just about made me want to throttle the person who took the photo. It was one of those forced ‘portraits’. You know the type I mean; when the people in the photo are choreographed where to put every part of their body, what direction to look, and to like it or not. Well the one that absolutely drove me to write this rant is a maternity shot. So many maternity shots are so contrived anyway which is why I don’t care for most of them but this one focused on the mom’s belly and her little boy, maybe 8 or 9-ish, had his hand on her tummy and he wore such a deep facial expression of discomfort and annoyance. I felt so sorry for him. He obviously was entirely uncomfortable touching his mom’s belly in that way PLUS the photographer had him without a shirt! Talk about making the poor kid feel insecure and awkward. That did not look like a warm, spontaneous moment to me that’s for sure; quite the opposite. Just sayin’.


Okay, so you get the idea. I dislike those stiff and unnatural poses so much. My clients never have to endure such things. I’m about making clients feel comfortable and at-ease and getting the real moments, the special interactions that come naturally or spontaneously. While I’m at it, I should also go on record saying that I really dislike those ubiquitous poses of infants where their head is being held up with their bent-backwards hands and other similar unnatural poses like hanging from a net. I love to see or take images of infants showing them naturally, not all contrived into pretzels.

Yes, a photographer will need to give direction and guidance to bring out some of the fun or special moments but it should not be so forced that the people in the resulting image look plastic or in pain. I’m just sayin’.

I don’t like to subject you dear readers to a rant but this just gets my goat, as the tired old saying goes. Never fear; much more uplifting posts are coming next. Oh, and fair warning: I have a few posts lined up so there will likely be one-a-day this week primarily for the ‘biz’, which is the main purpose for this little spot on the ‘net.


If you would like Diane to take photos of you, your family, or your pets without any forced or contrived poses, contact her to book your session.

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Christine Edwards - January 26, 2010 - 2:56 pm

Diane, I do agree with you about forced poses, especially when it seems that the “models” are uncomfortable. I also think it takes an experienced photographer to get good natural poses, like yours. Karen Russell takes portraits of her kids that are great. Most of them are the kids just doing their stuff, but she recently did a catalog shoot with her youngest and they turned out fantastic. So somebody who knows what they’re doing can make a posed portrait look more natural and comfortable. Good topic!

Marcie - January 26, 2010 - 8:09 pm

Aaah..yes. I couldn’t agree with you more. You said it all so perfectly. Love this collection of more spontaneous and very real images. Especially love – the very last group shot of the people at the bar..raising their glasses!! So full of joy and just plain good fun!!!

Jana - January 27, 2010 - 4:21 pm

Well thank you for including one of my photo’s in one’s you approve of 🙂

Gayle - January 28, 2010 - 10:12 am

All of my wedding photos are very posed. When I look back on them now, I can’t believe how bad they are! I can’t imagine a photographer posing people and then looking at the images and thinking they look good. I love your grouping of photos here! This is the way people want their family captured!