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Body language in photograph

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amanda Cavalcante

on 6 October 2016

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Transcript of Body language in photograph

Why is this important for us portrait photographers?
Because body language is the language spoken in our portraits. Recent studies have found that in less than a second of looking at a photo, the viewer will have made a snap judgement about the trustworthiness, likability, competence, even sexual orientation, aggressiveness and leadership qualities of the person in the photograph. This first impression is permanent, and is just as real as an “in person” one.

And if that isn’t scary enough, more research has found that the first impression we get from a video or photograph will be more harshly, even negatively judged than a face-to-face first impression.

As photographers, when we understand the subtleties of body language, we can help our subjects ease into a pose and expression that embodies an honest image of themselves. But if we get it wrong, we can actually be hurting their image both personally and professionally.

Head tilt
A photograph can’t capture people’s voices, so it fails to convey what people say about themselves. However, what people say doesn’t always accurately reflect what they are actually thinking and feeling. In fact, people sometimes use verbalizations to modify, filter, and censor the expression of what goes on inside them.

Many psychologists believe that non-verbal communication reveals as much, or more, than talk. The physical appearance of people, the way they dress, how they move and position themselves, speaks volumes. Much of what happens with body language is actually unconscious. People can monitor and control it to a certain degree, but often their physical movement conveys their feelings when they aren’t verbalizing them, even when they don’t want to or can’t verbalize them because those feelings are unconscious.

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Body language
What it says:
Open, friendly, approachable, good listener

While the head tilt communicates a happy and relaxed attitude, it can also be read as submissive.

Best use for the portrait:
It works well for a personal or business profile as long as the brand is friendly and open. It’s too soft for a high-power corporate profile photo.

Crossed arms
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What it says:
Defensive, defiant, uncomfortable, not open to discussion

Best use for the portrait:
A social, not professional, profile, since the pose could be perceived as cocky by a prospective employer.
Real smile
What it says:
Approachable, honest, attractive

While women perceive a genuine smile as a positive—a way of creating rapport and a sign of appeasement—men perceive smiling as submissive.

Best use for the portrait:
A portrait with a genuine smile is best for a personal profile or for a professional profile for which a bubbly persona is a plus.
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low self esteem
not interested
high self esteem
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