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Most high-school seniors will never have a chance to be professional models, but when a senior arrives at Tim Schooler's Lafayette studio, in the heart of Louisiana's Cajun country, they get a taste of what it would be like. "We treat them like models for a day," says Schooler. "We don't limit them in clothing changes and we take them to exciting locations that lend themselves to the fashion style of my work." The success of this strategy is evident in the sheer length of his waiting list for senior portrait sessions; it often has as many as three hundred names on it.

A self-taught photographer, Tim has made it an ongoing practice to study the work ofphotographers he admires; this is how he learned photography and how he continues to evolve as an artist. "My biggest influences when it comes to posing have been Don Blair,

For this senior portrait, Tim had his subject kneel behind a set that features paned windows. She then leaned forward to rest her elbows on one of the openings, with her forearms and hands elevated to grasp the edges of the window frame. This separated her arms from her torso, creating a slim look. Tim shot the portrait from a standing position. This, combined with the forward-leaning pose, allowed the subject's body to recede slightly into the background, keeping the emphasis on her face.

Poses For Senior Pictures For Girls

TIM SCHOOLER is a professional portrait photographer who specializes in high-school senior portrait photography. His successful studio offers a blend of traditional posing and lighting with more of a fashion edge, producing images that appeal to both teens and parents. While Schooler is especially well known for his location lighting techniques, he is also a master of studio lighting. To see more of his acclaimed images, visit www.timschooler.com.

Posing Senior Girls
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above—Despite explicit advice to wear long-sleeved tops, many of Schooler's clients arrive for their sessions in short-sleeved or sleeveless shirts. As a result, Tim is constantly looking for inventive ways to hide their upper arms. "Even with thin subjects, the upper arms can look heavy when they are bare," Tim notes. One solution is to create a tight image like this. Here, Tim used the girl's forearms to guide your eyes to her face and soften the look of her upper arms and shoulders. Paired with some diffusion and vignetting in postproduction, the result is extremely flattering. The pose also gave Tim the opportunity to showcase the girl's ornate bracelet. "I love when kids bring stuff like this; accessories can add impact to an image—especially with bare arms," says Tim. facing page—This young lady is an aspiring country-music singer, so she wanted a senior portrait that could do double duty as a promotional image for her music career. "She wanted a Shania Twain type of image," said Tim, "but not quite as sexy—something appropriate to her age." Tim selected this setting of urban decay to contrast with her beaded dress and high heels. In many ways, this pose follows the traditional rules. First, it has the subject's face turned into the light, while her body is turned away from it for a slimming view. Second, her left arm is separated from her waist, revealing a flattering curve. Additionally, her face is not in line with her torso, but turned to an angle. On one count, however, the pose is a rule-breaker: notice that the young lady's weight is actually on her front leg. "Normally, I'd have the weight on the rear leg and cross the other leg in front of it rather than behind," says Tim, "but she fell into this pose naturally and is thin enough to pull it off, so it works."

who was the king of posing, and Monte Zucker, also a master at posing," says Tim. "I really feel strongly that a lot of people today are struggling with posing because they need to learn the traditional rules of flattering the human form. Then it's okay to go and do something different—to do funky stuff, try different things, and break the rules. But you have to remember that those rules were created for a reason."

Tim adds, "That's why I studied the masters. I read every book I could find, watched videos, and attended workshops, because I really admire what they did. Once

I learned the rules, I tried to adapt them to what I do— a more dramatic, edgy type of portraiture. Essentially, I've blended those traditional techniques with the work of high-fashion photographers."

Because fashion photography is an ever-evolving field, Tim keeps up on the latest styles by reading magazines like W, Glamour, and Vogue. "I try to see what they're doing, and a lot of times the posing is really cool—really interesting and different," says Tim.

It's important to note that Tim's constant study of cutting-edge looks isn't just a self-gratifying creative

Outdoor Senior Pictures Poses

exercise; the kids that Tim photographs have grown up in a virtual deluge of media—magazines, web sites, videos, and movies that all set the bar very high when it comes to imagery. As a result, these teens demand something beyond the traditional senior portrait.

"The one thing that we hear over and over again is kids complaining that their friends went to so-and-so and all their photos look the same—and they want theirs to be different," says Tim. "It's hard to go out every day and stay within the confines of the rules that you know are going to make them look good, but still do something different—something that doesn't look like anyone else's images. In the busy season, it becomes almost impossible to do more than just nice, salable images that the parents will love and the kids will be happy with. We really push the envelope at the slower times, when we have time to experiment freely and take more shots."

Pushing the envelope is one thing, but Tim knows he also has to push it in the right direction for each client in order to ensure a good sale. "It's not mandatory, but it's very strongly suggested that, before they come for ttt

Senior Portrait Poses

left—Reclining on a triangular set element, this pose is all about the curves. "In a woman's portrait, that's what they want—it's what shows the femininity," says Tim. "We have a nice curve from the head to the neck, and a nice curve at the waist." Another S curve was created by having her drop her top knee down in front of her bottom knee, a pose that also slims her hips. right—Here is the same subject in a dreamy image. Tim turned her body at a pronounced angle to the camera, then used her raised hand and the flower to draw your eye to her face.

left—Reclining on a triangular set element, this pose is all about the curves. "In a woman's portrait, that's what they want—it's what shows the femininity," says Tim. "We have a nice curve from the head to the neck, and a nice curve at the waist." Another S curve was created by having her drop her top knee down in front of her bottom knee, a pose that also slims her hips. right—Here is the same subject in a dreamy image. Tim turned her body at a pronounced angle to the camera, then used her raised hand and the flower to draw your eye to her face.

their session, we have a twenty- to thirty-minute consultation with them," he says. "We show them a slide show of images set to music. We let them see our latest work—things we may not yet have had time to put on the web site. Then, we sit with them and talk about what they liked and what they didn't. We determine if they want indoor images, outdoor images, or a combi nation. Do they like bold colors or muted colors? We make notes on all of this and put it in their file. When they come back, we go over it again, so I'm sure I can shoot something they will like."

When it comes to posing, Tim's approach is similarly tailored to the subject. Sometimes he may have a specific pose in mind for a given subject and scene, other

Girls Senior Portrait Poses

facing page—Tim created this outdoor portrait in a spot where he found almost perfect natural light. This is yet another solution to photographing clients in short-sleeved shirts: hide them behind a prop or set element. In this pose, even with a trim subject like this, the rear can appear a bit large, so Tim had her bend at the waist, twisting around so that her right shoulder (and the hair pulled out across it) would conceal this area, above and right—"As soon as they see it, everyone wants a shot like this," says Schooler. In the image above, Tim added a pom-pom wrap to minimize the chest area and keep the attention on his subject's eyes. In the image to the right, Tim used the same basic pose but spread out the skirt of the girl's prom dress to form the background. In poses like this, he notes that you must tilt the subject's head up slightly to keep the plane of the face parallel with the lens plane. Otherwise, the chin will become too prominent.

times it develops more organically as the session progresses. "I'll ask them what they want in each scene. Do they want close-ups? A full-body shot? About 85 percent of our clients are young females, but as thin as most of them are, many are still self-conscious about their figures and don't want a full-length image," says Tim. Students in Tim's area also make good use of his web site, so many come to the consultation or session with ideas about images they'd like to create.

Most of Tim's clients aren't experienced in front of the camera and need help to look their very best. "I'll demonstrate a feminine pose for them—and I'm a big guy, so that always makes them laugh. It relaxes them, and they stop seeing me as intimidating and realize that

Karin Senior PortraitsSema Car Shows Girls

facing page—This young woman wanted a "country girl" image. Tim selected a chair that complemented the rustic theme, then had her adopt a casual, cross-legged pose. While the pose reads as natural, note that Tim had her roll onto her far hip, eliminating any flattening on the hip closest to the camera to produce a slim, shapely view. above—A New Orleans resident who was displaced by Hurricane Katrina, this subject wanted an image with an urban feel that reminded her of home. A casual pose on a fire escape near the studio fit the bill—and having her raise one arm gives the image a fashion edge that adds to its urban flair.

facing page—This young woman wanted a "country girl" image. Tim selected a chair that complemented the rustic theme, then had her adopt a casual, cross-legged pose. While the pose reads as natural, note that Tim had her roll onto her far hip, eliminating any flattening on the hip closest to the camera to produce a slim, shapely view. above—A New Orleans resident who was displaced by Hurricane Katrina, this subject wanted an image with an urban feel that reminded her of home. A casual pose on a fire escape near the studio fit the bill—and having her raise one arm gives the image a fashion edge that adds to its urban flair.

they're going to have a good time. Then the whole session is just great."

"If they're still not doing quite what I want," says Tim, "I'll ask permission, then move their hand or guide their foot into position by touching their knee. We have to honor those basic rules to flatter their form, but still do something a little bit different."

Tim also notes that, while comfort is important, poses that look great often feel a little awkward. "A lot of times, a subject will say a pose feels weird," he says,

"but then I show them the image on the back of the camera and they love it. I explain that, yes, it feels awkward because you don't normally stand or sit like that— but the reason we're doing it is that we want to create S curves, or it's flattering to the figure. I always explain that to them; it's part of keeping them involved in the session. I don't want anyone to come in and not like their photos because they aren't what they wanted, so I try to get feedback as we go, reading their expressions and listening to what they are saying."

above—Here's an unusual pose—and one that requires a very trim subject. Tim had the young woman lean back on her elbows and cross her legs. He then shot from a high camera angle to keep your eyes locked on hers. Note the role of color in the effectiveness of this composition. facing page—The waterfall shooting area behind Tim's studio is popular with seniors. Here, a high camera angle pairs with effective tonal blending (the dark clothes recede into the setting) to keep the face the center of attention—even in a fairly complicated scene.

above—Here's an unusual pose—and one that requires a very trim subject. Tim had the young woman lean back on her elbows and cross her legs. He then shot from a high camera angle to keep your eyes locked on hers. Note the role of color in the effectiveness of this composition. facing page—The waterfall shooting area behind Tim's studio is popular with seniors. Here, a high camera angle pairs with effective tonal blending (the dark clothes recede into the setting) to keep the face the center of attention—even in a fairly complicated scene.

What Tim's clients ultimately want is as different as the individual subjects. Given that the vast majority of his clients are female, Tim is well suited to identifying their needs—he has two grown daughters and grew up with only sisters. "I've always had girls all around me, so it's helped me to become a little more empathetic to their concerns," he notes. "Having said that, though, I can usually tell the differences in their personalities by the clothes they wear and bring for the session. If their outfits are traditional, they'll want traditional images. If they come with clothes that are edgy or sexy—low tops or short skirts—I know they want something that's a little more fashion style. They want to push the envelope a little—keeping it PG or better, of course."

"I think posing is critical to the success of an image," says Tim. "No matter how good everything else is, if the pose looks awkward, the image won't work. Some photographers promote lifestyle photography—people just standing around. I think my clients need posing. They don't understand what will look good and what won't. It's up to us to use our experience to create the poses that will flatter them the most. Posing is important. We're trying to create stuff they're not going to get from Mom's camera, and good posing is one of the things we can use to help us."

As the fashion-inspired images in this chapter show, Tim has already more than exceeded this goal. It's no wonder his clients just can't get enough.

Senior Portrait Poses For Girls

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