Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tina Fey on Posing & Photographer Speak

Tina Fey is definitely one of the funniest people alive. There aren't many men or women who rival her wit and ability to poke fun at herself. Tina Fey and Conan are probably the closest thing we have to a modern day Mark Twain.

In her recently published book "Bossypants," Tina had the following to say about posing for photographs (which I find pretty darn accurate and hilarious) while simultaneously poking fun at the process:

"Posing for a successful glamour portrait is very simple. Start with the basics. Turn sideways. Lean back against a wall. Move your chin forward to elongate your neck. Relax your shoulders. Make angles wherever possible. If you're over twenty-four, smile at all times. Keep your arms slightly away from your sides so as not to smush them and make them look larger. Suck your stomach up and in, and wrap your buttocks toward the back, Pilates-style. Be yourself. When you look into the lens, imagine you are looking at a dear friend, but not a friend who would laugh at you for jutting out your chin while arching your back against a fake wall."

As for dealing with what photographers say during a session, Tina has the following commentary:

"Most photographers have some kind of verbal patter going on when they shoot: 'Great. Turn to me. Big smile. Less shark eyes. Have fun with it. Not like that.'

Some photographers are compulsively effusive. 'Beautiful. Amazing. Gorgeous! Ugh, so gorgeous!' they yell at shutter speed. If you are anything less than insane, you will realize this is not sincere. It's hard to take because it's more positive feedback than you've received in your entire life thrown at you in fifteen seconds. It would be like going jogging while someone rode next to you in a slow-moving car, yelling, 'Yes! You are Carl Lewis! You're breaking a world record right now. Amazing! You are fast. You're going very fast, yes!'"

As a photographer, it is easy to forget how unnatural and uncomfortable it is for some people to be in front of the lens. And guidelines offered for how to pose are probably kind of odd for the average subject who is not a model by trade. It's not a bad exercise for photographers to step in front of a camera to feel some self-conscious beads of sweat forming once in a while. It'll keep you honest.

As for the goofy things photographers say to their subjects, like doctors, every photographer has their own kind of "bedside manner" and tried and true ways of engaging their subjects. Some tricks work better than others. Some tricks are weirder than others. Not sure that there is any positive or negative correlation between the two. In any case, I have come to realize and accept that most photographers are a different kind of animal. No two are alike, but all are equally off and strange in some unique way.

Need some proof?

I love my camera, but I would stop short of this. I have however, slept with my baseball glove as a kid.
I have often asked myself what lengths I would go for a shot...
Risk v. Reward
Objects in viewfinder may be closer than they appear.
The pen may be mightier than the sword, but...
The Presidential camera grip could use some work.
An odd bunch for sure with wildly varying skill levels, approaches, and personalities- whose only connection is a love for photography. As eclectic a group as any, but I suppose that's what makes the industry interesting.

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