Allegations Against School Photographer for Inappropriate Touching

See story here.

There’s a definite line between inappropriate touching when posing students.  When I first learned to take portraits over 20 years ago, it was standard procedure to push the subject in the small of the back to get them to sit up straight and tall, touch their shoulders (with finger tips) to move their shoulders to the correct angle, and to use finger tips to help tilt the head.  For female photographers, touch posing was never really an issue.  For male photographers, we had to stay at arms length, to use only finger tips, and as much as possible to use gestures, rather then actual touching.

Over the years, I moved from using my finger tips to pose at arms length to ‘touchless’ posing.   I can’t pinpoint exactly when I started leaning toward ‘touchless’ posing, but I know I taught the ‘touchless’ posing technique to new photographers for at least 15 years.   When ever possible I suggest showing a mirror and let them fix themselves.  But, in the rush to get the volume of pictures done in the time allowed, this may not always be possible.  When touching to move a stray hair or straighten a necklace is needed, it is important to communicate what you are about to do and get permission, before doing so.

‘Touchless’ posing is actually very easy, but takes a little practice to perfect it.  When facing your subject, if you tilt your head, watch what they do.  They will mirror just about anything you do as a photographer.  Adding a hand gesture to suggest tipping their head and verbally telling them to tip their head, while tipping your own head is very effective.  Smile to get them to smile, stay pensive to help get the more serious look.  Get them involved in the process of being photographed by carrying on a conversation.  Ask them questions such as their favorite colors to help you provide them with their favorite colored background.  Find out what hobbies they are into, etc to help them feel more confortable.

Many times, you have less then 20 seconds to photograph your subject.  Once, you have mastered ‘touchless’ posing, it’s easy to pose in 20 seconds.  It saves time, never having to leave camera to pose your subjects.  With the bright lights from the modeling lamps blaring in your subjects face, it’s important to step forward so you have their attention and so they can see you.  If you have a remote shutter release, frame, step out from the camera, pose, and then capture the moment when you get the exact expression you are looking for.

If you’re a male photographer, it might be a good idea to hire a female assistant or ask for volunteer mom’s to help pose the students.  One photographer told me that he goes into the schools and asks the school secretary for families that might need extra financial assistance.  He will give the family free portraits if mom can come to the school and help out for the day.

In today’s society, it’s important that as photographer’s we be very careful to avoid getting ourselves into the situation that this photographer (from Lifetouch) is in.


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