Far from it! But first, here are a few raw photos of Reach International School's prom night at the exclusive Manila Polo Club in Makati city. No photo booth snapshot can match (yet?) the traditional studio setup managed by a pro portrait photographer. I know 'coz I've recently compared prints.
Whenever clients refuse formal posing by saying "it's stiff"-they always refer to their folks' prehistoric snaps. Egad, even most photogs disdain formal posing! But it's the learned photographer's duty to inform client that formal posing is the logical, practical and progression in posing, so optional shots can be done later on, of course. I call formals the "warm-up" session.
A sign of a competent portrait photog is the repertoire of formal poses he can demonstrate for the sitter to imitate. I always instruct my students in wedding photography to execute a few formal shots before they explore other poses, as a matter of principle.
Alas, a vast majority of photogs are untrained to do formal posing. It shows-they eschew it without even having tried it or learned it. This client-photographer revulsion reflects artistic myopia-a crisis of the imagination: they claim it's too "cookie-cutter". But even past and present masters of the fine arts sometimes refer to a formal, working template or formula (but that's for another article). Because it takes a gifted photog to visually "feel" the balanced lines in formal posing with his unique vision and pull away with a gripping image, fully aware that the subjects' emotional expression as the crucial key in effective formal poses.
I personally knew of a couple in 1999 who hired a known wedding photog. The groom specifically instructed the photog that no formal poses-ever: strictly photojournalistic. After a few years married, the now-husband searches for any wedding photo with just him and his bride together, for which he intends to enlarged in print. But there was none...no formals were done. Lesson: the market is not infallible. Remember McLean hamberger, New Coke, etcetera? These were top wish-lists of U.S. consumers in marketing research. But where are they now? And what about formal poses? Like, is the current Philippine president's formal portrait in Malacañang Palace obsolete? Not yet-I hope! LOL
Yours truly was fortunate to have learned formals from a pro photog in Ms. Janet Martin, (Miami, FL based). For as long as humans haven't drastically mutated with another arm, eye or head, traditional formal posing is here to stay, along with the others. Clients "dressed to kill" deserve at least a formal pose as "safe" starter, comprendo?
Personally, I find wacky shots ("fun shots" to our foreign market) effortless and require less discipline. Yes, there's a sweet science to fun shots too, bebe (another article)-thanks much Janet! Okay everyone-wacky shot now!!! XD