I'm a fan of candid photography. Posing for photos can look and feel awkward. Unfortunately, in Menswear, it's a necessary evil. Evil, that is, unless you really know how to pose.
I don't. But you know who does? Jamie, Ethan and Marco. These guys dance, play, eat, drink, finger-gun... They make their photos stand out, they highlight what's great about their clothes, and they have fun doing it.
A photographer by trade, Jamie Ferguson found himself with a lot of free time in quarantine.
His solution to this lack of client work was to experiment with new lighting techniques, whatever props he had handy, and, as you can tell, some very animated poses. He and his moustache made goofy faces, danced like nobody was shooting, and... ate, and drank.
Eating and drinking are weird. Eating in particular is a strange activity -- it's one we're conditioned to associate with vulnerability. The adrenal response is our "fight and flight" response -- it represents us at our strongest and fastest. But digestion and rest are quite opposed; we do these things when we know we're safe. This deeply ingrained association has created many shy eaters -- people cover their mouths when they eat. Characters in movies and on TV sit at a dinner table but generally aren't actually seen eating. Eating is intimate; it's something we do on dates. So think about it: how often do you see photos of people eating?
So when you want to look a little vulnerable -- or to look downright goofy -- eating is a really unique, unusual, and powerful way to do it.
This isn't for the faint of heart. Most of us don't have Jamie's talent as a photographer or model. This series of photos reflects the creativity and skill required for both photography and modeling. But if you're feeling like a new challenge for your fit pics -- grab some goofy-looking food, and try to look good eating it.
Speaking of eating, let's talk about...
Ethan M. Wong
But there's a good deal more candor in Ethan's photos. He doesn't really even think of it as posing. He feels silly, he hands his friends a camera, and he just... acts the way he acts. You need a bit of personality to do this, and you need some friends who are willing to take a dumb photo and not question it. That's trickier than it sounds -- when I tell my friends to take candid photos of me, they get confused and ask me to pose. By the time they figure out what I want, the moment's gone.
Now, you're probably not surrounded with friends right now, but you can at least attempt to recreate this magic with a tripod and a timer. But if you ask me, as long as you control the camera, you're posing, and that's exactly what you're trying to get away from.
Ethan's gang has got the magic formula figured out. He knows how to be his own precious self, and they know how to capture it without ruining it.
In the meantime... Prepare for new levels of strange.
Marco, aka /u/kamotejoe, can dance. And somehow, he can dance well enough that even the still photos of him dancing look cool. Again, we are faced with the unfortunate fact that these great poses require hard work, natural talent, and style.
His style is... Quite obviously, weird. Engineered Garments, Needles, Kapital, and a bunch of other strange brands coalesce into one of the most unique wardrobes out there. But he just has so much fun with it, and that's infectious. It took me a while, but it's really not that hard to see why he's one of Reddit's favorites.
Reddit loves Marco so much that, when he suggested a "Freaky Friday" theme thread, many users decided to dress, and pose, as him.
If you thought they imitated Marco because it would be easy, I've got bad news for you -- he's been dancing for 9 years, and he still goes to classes. And not only that, but he's constantly thinking about his clothing when he poses. He's thinking about what lines his movements will highlight. While also having fun and doing what comes natural to him. Does that sound like a paradox?
His advice is encouraging, but not in the way you want it to be:
Like all things it takes time but even small improvements should be celebrated. The most important place to start is to learn to relax and lean into the groove + music when dancing. Every dance style has a specific groove that brings it to life which is why most dance classes start with a groove warmup. Because we're given so many messages by society to "fit in," dancing is a fundamental reprogramming of things we've picked up and is actually an act of rebellion. Hence, why most famous dance styles like breaking, locking, vogue, and house started within marginalized urban communities.
Also, I wouldn't sweat trying to dance like a pro dancer because effort and feeling matter so much more than "looking good" and I think that concept is not fair to attach to something as subjective as dance. It's important to feel great above all, energy permeates through to other people more than how "good" one looks. That's my long-winded way of saying that finding what works at a pace comfortable to you is the most important!
Awesome. I'll keep trying this for nine years and if I take a good photo between now and then, I'll just consider it a bonus. I'll share my failures in the meantime -- I'll attach a couple below.
For more on Marco, see his profile on Grailed.
I set out writing this article hoping I'd be able to give you some good advice on how to pose in more unique ways, or learn how to do it better myself. You can see how well that turned out below -- I'm sharing my failures just for you.
But the biggest lesson is that... Art is hard work.
Honesty is a part of it. You have to get comfortable in front of a camera, you have to be a naturally silly person. And you need some raw talent. But then you need to work at it. Remember that film is cheap, and that you're probably not using any. That, if today's photos are a little better than yesterday's, then you're making progress. And that maybe, one day, you can look as fly on camera as these crazy fucks.
So try your best. Get your funky flow going. Take those photos like nobody's watching, and then post them, even when they're bad. Send me your attempts, if you have some you're proud of, and we'll see -- maybe I'll find a chance do an article like this again, with a few new friends.
Again, here's the imgur album.
Now get ready to laugh at me.