Learn Inspiration

Express Yourself! 5 Tips For Photographing Body Language

By Cassia Reynolds | Inspiration

What's more elegant than a classic yoga headstand on a mountainside? Or more joyful than a bright, blurred figure dancing in the rain? Body language can add just the right amount of emotion and quirk to a simple setting. whether it’s asking your friends to model for you or putting yourself in the scene, it can sometimes also be daunting to use people in your photography.

But never fear, BeFunky blogger friends! Try out these five simple tips next time you want to sprinkle a little extra personality into your photograph. And if you're looking for that little extra visual oomph, be sure to edit your pictures in the fabulous Photo Editor.

Tip 1: Make Your Subject Laugh


One thing that’s easy to capture in a photo is a subject’s obvious discomfort. If your model stiffens up whenever you lift your viewfinder to your eye, ease the tension. Ask what’s making them uncomfortable, tell a bad joke, and (most importantly) laugh with them. Always remember: a photograph is your intimate interpretation of the world. Bond with your subject; if you can sense any awkwardness, your audience definitely will be able to, too!

You chose your model for this photo shoot for a reason, right? So let them have fun with the picture, too, and show off a bit of their personality. When I shot the above photo with two of my friends in Miami, I asked them to act out the artwork behind them. They decided on this awesome action shot.

The best photographs are those that don’t feel rehearsed. Never over-pose your subject. Say 1-2-3 but hit the shutter on 1. Tell a joke and catch the reaction. Just keep it natural.

Tip 2: Create Drama with a Silhouette


Are you looking for something a little more dramatic? That’s what the silhouette shot is all about. Think backdrops: colorful sunsets, light streaming through a window, constrasty black and white shots. You can capture severe lines and the beautiful shapes of human expression with this kind of lighting.

When you’re setting up a shot with a particularly bright and beautiful backdrop, make sure your figure is to one side (not centered) so that they enhance the surroundings but don’t distract from them.

You won’t be capturing much of your subject’s expression, so it’s important that their body speaks to the camera. Concentrate on the curves and lines you want to create; pose your subject so that whatever you want them to do is obvious, whether it’s sitting, standing, or looking out into the distance. And don’t be afraid to experiment! When I asked my friend to model for the example photo above, I used the words "gargoyle" and "pensive" to describe the body language I wanted. (Not pictured: him laughing at me right before I took the photo.) 

When it’s time to actually shoot the image, focus on the backdrop. Concentrate on capturing those colors and your figure will darken and they will transform into the ultimate mood enhancer for your emotional shot.

Tip 3: Capture Bits and Pieces


Use the body as a subject: touching hands, fingers splayed out, toes in the sand. If you’re struggling with capturing a person’s likeness, don’t focus on capturing a whole person; just the part that expresses what you want to say. Little pieces of a person can emanate just as much joy or sadness as a smile or tears.

Pictured above is a "fish foot massage" in Cambodia. The tourist receiving the massage couldn't stop squirming around but I thought that her feet alone demonstrated the carefree weirdness of her experience. (Although the fish in the tank are making some great facial expressions!)

Tip 4: Delve into Some Post-Production Fun


For those that want to take their portraiture game to the next level, give post-production some thought. If you’re looking to add a unique, wild touch to your image, check out the Holga Art effect on BeFunky’s online Photo Editor

I like to mix a couple of effects together for some extra pizazz. In the image I used as the example, I combined Effect 2 and Effect 4 to give this portrait the vintage rock 'n roll feel I was looking for.

Tip 5: Add Extra Oomph to the Classic Landscape


When capturing that ahh, I love nature moment, adding a figure as a focal point in the foreground can make all the difference. This transforms a pretty landscape into a statement about traveling, happiness, and inspiration. Have your subject pose facing the landscape and let them do what they feel like: a headstand, open arms, a cartwheel. My model in the picture above just couldn't get enough of the view and his body language said it all.

The beauty of this kind of pose is that it’s anonymous, but universal. And it doesn’t get simpler than that.

That’s all for now, folks! Now get out there and express yourself!

Photo Editing, Simplified.

Photo Editing. Simplified