On posing, and why…
In an article yesterday about asking the right questions when we replace a system, Seth Godin quips:
The next time you pose for a photo, keep in mind that we pose for photos because the speed of an exposure used to be so long that if you didn’t pose, the photo was blurred. We changed the tech, but baked in the cultural expectation.
He's not wrong about the origin of photography posing, but he's ignoring the main reason why we pose for photos in 2023, especially under the direction of a skilled photographer. It’s not just because there was a custom started when camera shutter speeds were much slower.
Posing isn't related to the technical capabilities of the camera anymore. It’s not just “because that’s the way we’ve always done it.” It's about making someone look as good as possible, where "good" both means generally flattering, but also looking correct for the occasion, mood, for feeling that the photographer is creating. Photographers who care about posing will spend hours studying it, often with paid courses to receive expert instruction.
And that casual snapshot with friends? The reason we see a teenage girl pausing and paying attention to the position of her arms, legs, and head? It's not about eliminating motion blur. It's about her wanting to look like her best self.
The reason why we pose for photos isn’t just out of habit.