Chairs come in many shapes and forms and are constructed from an almost limitless variety of materials. This makes chairs a great posing aid for models, but don’t get caught up in believing all chairs need four legs. While working in the Virgin Islands, I photographed a model sitting on a palm tree that came out almost horizontally before it rose vertically thus it made a great chair.

mirrorless cameras

Chairs can add character to an image, and a sense of character to your subject.

Note, be careful when you have someone sit, especially a scantily clad model, on a tree as trees attract critters and insects and some of them rascals bite or sting.

Back to chairs. 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 if necessary.

Ideal chairs have a solid form, unlike beanbags. They have character in their wood, steel, or even fabric or leather that can 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.

chairs character photography

For this specific high-key photo, Tess and I found a white chair.

And again, don’t focus on finding a chair with four legs. Look at a chair as anything your subject can place their bottom on, including the seat of a motorcycle, forklift, car, even a bed. If your subject can rest comfortably in a sitting position and the object providing them the ability to sit is supporting them, then it meets the prerequisite of a chair.

Often as photographers we look for actual chairs, stools and anything four-legged. This is the obvious chair. Look for the not so obvious chair that will still provide support for your subject as these types of chairs 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.

And don’t forget about safety. If you have found one of those not so obvious chairs, push down on it with your hands and check it before you let any sit down on it. I’ve seen chairs that look normal and strong fall apart, all things can break. Now go find an interesting chair with character and take some great photos, then “chair” them with others.

Rolando Gomez is a professional photographer and author of five photography books that has traveled to 45 countries for assignments. The former soldier and U.S. Army combat photographer has taught hundreds of photography workshops for almost two decades. A 2016, 2017 and 2018 Top Writer for Quora, his partial credits include Newsweek, Parade, Playboy, Rangefinder, Maxim, Rangefinder, New York Times, Stars & Stripes, and various other publications.  
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