Arranging bodies for photographs

Professional touch in the photography studio


  • Lorenza Mondada
  • Burak S. Tekin



Conversation analysis, Ethnomethodology, Multimodality, Professional touch, Professional vision, Touch-cum-vision, Perspectival posture, Body arrangements, Photography, Photographable, Photographic eye


This paper describes a particular form of professional touch, through which photographers taking photographs of their clients/models arrange their bodies and orchestrate their poses. Our analysis demonstrates that photographers adopt a professional touch-cum-vision, which combines professional vision and professional touch. The former is achieved by the photographers adopting a specific perspectival posture, allowing them to see the photographed persons from a distance, in a way that is analogous to the perspective of the photographic eye, that is, to the perspective of seeing through a camera. The latter involves a specific form and trajectory of arms and hands, accountably shaped in a way that enables a touch that is both precise, targeting specific details of the body, and delicate, orienting to the normativity of touching the other’s body. The clients/models can docilely align with the photographers’ touch but can also display more agency, initiating and preempting the arrangement of details of the pose, as well as some resistance, prompting the photographers to minimize their touching interventions and to ask for permission, apologize, and thank.

Data are video recordings of photography sessions in professional studios, in which participants speak (Swiss) German and Turkish.



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How to Cite

Mondada, L., & Tekin, B. S. (2020). Arranging bodies for photographs: Professional touch in the photography studio. Social Interaction. Video-Based Studies of Human Sociality, 3(1).