Worth a Thousand Words: Turning your dial  to manual

Having a primary background in sports photography, along with dabbling in wildlife photos, I tend to have a thing against seeing posed photos, especially at general events I cover.

This seems pretty logical. After all, you can’t exactly stop a football player as he’s dashing towards the end zone and ask him to tilt his head in a certain direction or hold the ball a different way. 

The same thing goes with wildlife. While you can try to will an animal to change positions or look a different direction, doing so out loud will generally just scare them off.

Given that perspective, I generally approach other events the same way. I want to capture people doing things naturally. And to me, that isn’t “Look at the camera.”

Now, that’s not to say I completely shy away from some shots where it is obvious the subject is aware of my taking their photo. I call these “spontaneous poses.” It’s those magical times when there are no words spoken between the photographer and the subject. For example, a couple years ago I was covering a ’70s-themed dance when one of the participants noticed me pointing my lens her way and proceeded to flash a peace sign my direction. It was the perfect shot that just wouldn’t have looked the same if I had actually asked her to do it.

There are some events, however, that do warrant posed shots. We are in the middle of one such occasion – prom season. With the guidance of a skilled photographer, posed prom shots are golden. Even though they are looking straight at the camera, the best of these shots still convey the fun-filled mood of the event and the excitement of the participants.

With that being said, there is one prom pose that I absolutely cringe at, and I swear I will never publish as long as I am in charge. That pose is the “Charlie’s Angels” pose.

Nevermind that it has become one of the most overused poses any time three or more girls get together. What gets me more is that they are doing it wrong. Any fan of the original show knows that the shot this pose is based off of has the three “Angels” doing different things. One is holding a gun, one is doing a karate chop and one is talking into a walkie talkie. But somehow, that shot got morphed into all three (or more) posers turning their hands into a “gun.”

I think I know where the mistake originated. Another classic photo of the original three “Angels” does look similar to this, but in fact they have their hands together, as if they are praying (get it, angels praying. Not exactly a stroke of genius either, but it did become an iconic photo). I have a feeling it was actually that pose that people started mixing up with the opening theme shot.

Either way, it’s just one of those weird pet peeves of mine. So please, do me a favor, feel free to have fun posing for photos (especially if they’re being taken by one of my photographers), but resist the urge to clasp your fingers together and point in the air. 

Bill Stickels III is editor of the Isanti-Chisago County Star. He can be reached at 763-689-1181 ext. 107 or editor@countystar.com. 

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