Go With the Flow: Transitional Posing Made Easy

Transitional posing is one of those things that most of us are already doing without even realizing. We position our clients in a certain pose, take the shot, then move this arm, take the shot, have them hug, take the shot, look the other way, take the shot… on and on. Transitional posing is all about the flow from one natural pose to the next, making the session fluid and, well, natural!

One of first things I tell my clients at the beginning of a session is that if it feels unnatural, it’s going to look unnatural.

As the photographer, our job is to make our clients look and feel their very best, but sometimes that is easier said than done. We’ve all had clients who are somewhat awkward in front of the camera and require extra care and attention to move them into flattering positions. Making use of transitional posing is one of the methods than can help even the most nervous or timid of clients look great in every shot.

Transitional posing works for any type of session and client, from newborn to bride. To start, place your client in a simple “beginner” pose. The idea is to start with something easy and the build up as your client’s confidence and comfort level grows. Once you take the first few shots, reposition the hands, tilt the head, turn the body, reshooting between each position. In addition to repositioning your client, also reposition yourself! Changing your angle and switching between wide shots and closeups give you more variety in the final images, thus producing more shots in the same amount of time.

The above series shows how three different shots came out of one simple hold, all in the space of 90 seconds or so. This form of the cradle-hold is one of the best “go to” poses that a newborn photographer can have in their repertoire. From this beginning position, you can transition the parent from one hold to the next, all the while keeping that newborn safe, comfortable, and sleepy!

All you have to do is browse through Pinterest to see some basic poses used over and over again. Once you click through to the entire session, you can see how the photographer was able to change small things about the position to switch up the shots, even changing their own angle to give an entirely new feel to the images. Mastering these basic poses gives you the advantage in a session as you can flow from one position to the next, avoiding that awkward moment where you’re at a lost of what to do next. (And we’ve all been there!)

One of my favorite things to do when using transitional posing is to have the other parent/sibling/friend “jump in” once the first set of shots is over, like in the series below.

You can see here how I had dad hold baby in a simple crossover hold, taking several shots to fulfill part of my “daddy quota” for the session, and then I invited mom to come cuddle with her guys, which began adding to the family shots. Both the mommy and daddy images made use of a basic pose and were shot in a similar manner as to allow consistency when pairing images afterwards for the ordering appointment. This method of posing is great for creating albums and storyboards as the images compliment each other naturally.

When posing your clients using the transition method, keep a running conversation going as you tell them a joke to get them to laugh, encourage them to kiss and cuddle, have them tilt their head and give a little smile like they know a secret, all the while telling them what a fantastic job they are doing! And don’t be afraid if a pose just don’t look right for you client. Laugh it off and move on to the next one in your photographer’s bag of tricks. By keeping things light and the flow smooth, you are keeping your client natural and at ease, which means happy clients and amazing images!

Do you have a session that shows off your mad transitional posing skills? Post the link below to share!