Notes – Lighting and Posing with Bambi Cantrell – Day 1/Session 1 (CreativeLive)

Notes from Bambi Cantrell’s CreativeLive ( Lighting and Posing workshop (Day 1, Session 1). I gleaned these from repeated watching of her workshop (which is well worth the money to purchase from CreativeLive)

  • Give model a point of reference. Ex: stand at spot you want the model to turn to
  • Ask model to shift hips to move weight between legs
  • Shift weight away from camera (muscle are thinner when they are not weight bearing). Push hip away from camera
  • Create nice diagonal lines. Bend front (non-weight bearing) leg.
  • Push pelvis forward to rock shoulders back
  • Be body part specific
  • Create light trap between arms and body. Do not keep arms closed to body. Light trap gives waist context
  • Shadows are what give an image dimensionality and shape
  • With darker skin, dimensionality comes from highlights or spectuals on skin
  • Eyes of people looking in camera should be tack sharp
  • Fill the frame in a closeup. Size of picture should be determined by filling the frame not by standard size. Use a mat to convert a non-standard size picture to standard to fit frame (e.g. create a mat to make a 7X10 into a 8X10 for a frame)
  • use a black reflector to cst shadow on someone with a larger frame and photograph on reflector side.
  • Use edge of reflector to wisk light across subject. Do not reflect full light onto subject.
  • Do not ask subject to smile or look sexy. Give them a reason to have an expression to get real, beautiful expressions. Give people a reason to behave a certain way
  • To capture the moment: through out the day watch the light and predict when events might happen. Be a good listener/observer of events around you.  
  • Your good personality will bring the life out of the subject. Learn to fake it. People are a reflection of who you are. If you are fun and animated, the subject will be as well.
  • Leaning back from camera indicates aloofness. Learning forward indicates interest. Men leaning back projects power. Woman should lean forward at least a little to engage with the camera
  • “Lean forward with your chest”, “Roll your shoulder forward”. “Repeat the word: huh?”
  • It all has to start with the feet even if they can not be seen in the shot.
  • Always show the back of your hand to the model when showing them hope to pose. It’s less threatening than the palm.
  • Learn to become extremely specific on what you want the model to do.
  • It can be extremely flattering to have the model sitting or laying down especially for heavier people.
  • Crop out body parts that are less flattering
  • Photographing from the shadow part of the face is called short light
  • All a client understands is impact: do I look great or look bad.
  • posing men: shift weight to back leg, left front foot off the ground then place it back on the ground like you are stepping on a butterfly and don’t want to squish it. Lean towards me with shoulder and hip. Men can round shoulders: “Hang towards me”. Try to make pose real. 
  • Check light on body parts other than the face. Never want it to be brighter on body parts closer to camera than the face (for example, the back of the hand).
  • Look at where light is coming in on eye. Nice catch light at 2 o’clock will illuminate iris.
  • Long skinny face: one person which you can photograph on bright side. Unless their body is big in which case you should go back to short light.
  • You can photograph anywhere is you pay attention to light source, crop in camera, and use shallow depth of field.
  • Observe subject to see who you are working with: what are they wearing, does handbag match shoes, private vs. conservative, flashy earrings & big belt: I want to be noticed.
  • When sittings, have forward leg bent & on top of back leg. Move subject forward in chair.
  • Keep light off of forward part of the body by positioning light. Forward part is closer to camera so will take attention if broadly lit. Illuminate edge of arm or shoulder instead of full part.
  •  sit down with subject to hear concerns and what they like. Observe them. Ask viewpoint questions: how do you feel about …? “I never like having my picture take. Why? I never look good and it makes me feel stupid. What makes me feel stupid. What makes you feel stupid about having your picture taken? 
  • When talking, sit lower then them and lean forward to engage.
  • Bride: tell me about the dress. Dress will show the style of the woman.
  • Lying down: don’t lay one leg on top of other. Tuck arm behind waist to help define it and keep more light on body than arm.
  • Dark skin is generally a stop or two under 18% gray exposure. To get a proper exposure of dark skins, expose a stop to two stops under. Caucasian skin is approximately 18% grey.
  • Camera will show proper exposure of everything as 18% grey. Photographer must judge whether subject is darker or lighter than 18% grey and adjust exposure appropriately.
  • To enhance the bust, have the subject bring arms together underneath breast and squeeze slightly. Crop out arms to avoid showing extra bulk.
My Notes postings are intended as a supplement to the workshop. If you are at all interested in this subject I highly recommend you purchase the full 3 day course from There is no substitute to watching Bambi in action and at $149, it’s a great deal. The amount of information she provides is incredible.
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