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How to Add Movement to Your Portraits

I absolutely love adding movement to the images I take! Whether it’s hair movement, clothes, or busting some moves in the middle of the street… you name it!

Have you ever felt kind of bored looking at beautiful portraits? Don’t get me wrong, I love portraiture! I’m just missing the drama in photos. Always.

Adding movement to portraits is easy, you probably do it already without even realising. Movement can be anything from clothes and hair to the poses. Let’s look at different types of movement in the photos. Let’s go!

HAIR

Having your hair moving in photos often adds this light and airy feel. A perfectly still pose can be completely transformed with a little bit of hair movement. See it yourself!

Model: Rebecca McCormack
MUA: Eleonora Manzi

If you are shooting in the studio, add a little fan, or a hair dryer, and when you’re shooting outdoors, really embrace and enjoy the wind.

(in the image above, the make up artist was waving a reflector to imitate the wind)

CLOTHES/FABRIC

I love playing with clothes and materials!

Whether it’s a fashion image, lifestyle or dance, give your photos character! Long silk-type dresses work perfectly well for this purpose.

If you feel like experimenting more, head to your local fabric and textile market! My go-to place is the RAG market in Birmingham city centre. It feels like a treasure hunt every time I go there, absolute heaven!

Look out for light fabrics such as nets, satin, silk, etc. My tip is the bigger the better, however if you don’t fancy spending much on an experiment, go for a net fabric: it’s only £2 per meter.

Play with the fabric! Dance with it, throw it around, wrap yourself in it… Use your imagination!

Model: Rebecca McCormack
MUA: Eleonora Manzi

ACTION POSES

This tip is actually pretty simple, all you need to do is move!

Action poses are great if you or your model is shy. It’s great when you’re building rapport with your model. It’s easy, fun; it doesn’t even feel like posing! It’s THE BEST ice breaker! Start with simple moves like turning around, shaking your head from side to side, or even a runway walk! (like in fashion magazines!)

I have already talked about action poses in another blog post. Feel free to read it HERE.

Model: Barbora Stanclova

BREATH

When you breathe fully you become more in tune with your body (think of yoga!). When you exhale, you’re letting go of any tension in your body as well as your face. During the exhale your body finds a natural way to sink in a pose you are trying to do, as a result the pose is more powerful and more believable.

You also tend to relax your face and soften your gaze when you exhale… which, believe me, is incredibly flattering in photos!

If you are holding your breath or not breathing fully, you put your body under stress: your jaw and your body language will communicate that.

I often ask my models to close their eyes while I count 1,2,3 and ask them to exhale and open their eyes on 4.


TIP: lips are slightly open and soft, almost like breathing through your teeth.

Model: Abi Fulbrook
MUA: Eleonora Manzi

If you are thinking to yourself WHY?… Why should you try adding movement to your poses and photos?

REASON 1. It takes pressure off. By simply shifting your focus away from camera (if you’re a model) it stops you from overthinking your facial expression, and in general makes you look and act naturally, like you, when shutter goes off.

REASON 2. Action adds drama. It’s also fun to create (often with a number of takes) and there’s an emotion that wasn’t there in a simple still portrait. Fact!

I hope you find this post useful, and let me know about your experience with action portraiture in the comment section below.

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