The Many Characters of Chairs
25 Nov 2008
Chairs come in many shapes and forms and are constructed from an almost limitless variety of materials. This makes them a great posing aid for models. Don't get caught up in believing all chairs have to have four legs. While working in the Virgin Islands, I recently photographed a model sitting on a palm tree that came out almost horizontally before it rose vertically thus it was a great chair. (Though you must be careful when sitting a scantily clad model on a tree; there can be ants or other bugs!)
Chairs are filled with character. Sometimes the chair back itself has a nice carving that accentuates the model's pose. If the back of the chair has vertical slats, they can literally point the viewer to the model's face especially when the model is straddling the chair and facing backwards (which is a great way to hide the tummy)!
The ideal chairs have a solid form, unlike beanbags. They have character in their wood, steel, or even fabric, that add to the image. Additionally, ideal chairs allow the model room to maneuver her body in various poses, including the ability to kick her heels up.
Not all chairs have to have four legs either. I look at a chair as anything my subject can place their bottom on, including the seat of a motorcycle, forklift, car, even a bed. If my subject can rest comfortably in a sitting position and the object providing them the ability to sit is supporting them, then it meets my prerequisite as a chair.
Often as photographers we look for actual chairs, stools and anything four-legged. This is the obvious chair. Looking for the not so obvious, while still providing support for our subject can often lead to some interesting photos.
If you can place a bottom on it, it's a chair, but look for form and shape of the chair to help convey the message in your photograph for a more effective image.