Posing Tips and Suggestions

Posted on February 23, 2013

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You are in front of the camera, now what? Pose? Do what?

As a model, you probably already know that posing needs to occur. You probably also know the C, S, and I poses. But where do you go from here? Here are some things to think about when posing in this post. When a photographer tells you that you have a “broken wrist” or “creepy hand” or “crazy eyes”, do you know what it is? If not, read on.

First, what ever you have closest to the camera is going to look the largest. That means if your hips are at level with the camera, and you are facing forward, you will have larger hips than normal. If the camera is at the same level, and you are facing backwards, you rear end will appear the largest. Often, the part of the body is a leg or arm – if you don’t want them to appear large, move them backwards and away from the camera. If you think you have big hips, kick them back from the camera while keeping your arms and head close to the camera. If you have a side with a smaller part, usually an eye, then keep the smaller eye to the camera, and they both will look the same size. You would be amazed at how well this works.

One of my pet peeves is a model who won’t keep her eyes forward. When you pose, and you look with just your eyes in another direction, you have an abnormal amount of white in your eyes. To correct for this, you should be looking almost right off your nose. Not way the left. Not way to the right. Not way up in the air. You should be looking off your nose. In some cases, you may want a closed eye to show of the makeup or a particular feeling, and in that case, you look down at your feet. Where should you put your eyes in general? Great question. Almost always, they should be pointing to either the camera or some place on the body. In rare instances, if you are looking out a window or at a mirror at yourself, then that is the right place to look. Outside of this, a photographer may have a reason for you looking somewhere else, but it is rare that it will look natural.

Speaking of eyes and rolling them away from the camera, another pet peeve is when a model pulls back from the camera. Frequently the model pulls their chin down or up unnaturally, and cups their shoulders. This makes the model look horrible – double chin and poor posture. Instead, the model should be pushing to the camera stretching that neck (not too much) and having their shoulders in a good posture.

The last of my pet peeves is the broken wrist or joint. I see this often when people want to support their clothing in some way while posing, but was only once reserved for those on the runway. Now, it seems like everyone does it – even if they don’t need to support that extra clothing weight. Instead of having your fingers point straight up and a wrist that looks broken, you want to rotate the wrist so the fingers point in a downward direction. You could even move your fingers on finger tip and it would still look great.

Yet another thing that people fail to do when posing is to pose their feet. What does this mean? It means that most often, you will have one foot carrying your weight, and another one for accent. It also means that you will more than likely have them in a “T” position of some kind. One of my favourite accent positions is on toe tip or almost on toe tip, with the knee bent and pulled across the weight bearing leg. This brings out the lines in the female form and also if done right, will make her look slimmer. When it is done wrong, the look is one of having to go to the bathroom. Practice the poses you know and learn them. Watch yourself do them in a mirror. Another one you don’t want is bird feet – that is where both toe tips face forward but are pointed inward. Again, not a flattering look. The last one not to do is both feet forward to the camera – I refer to this as “club feet”. The key to a feet pose is making them look natural, have one defined (where you can see the shape completely), and be stable in your footing. Remember the “T” pose.

Finally, we have hands. Hands are one of those amazing things that no one knows what to do with. So, we hide them, right? No, we don’t hide them. They should be showing with fingers outstretched and some space between the fingers. The hand should be relaxed, and never tightly clenched. When you have your hands showing, make sure at least some of the forearm is showing so that we know where the hand came. There is nothing worse than cousin It resting somewhere giving us the creepy hand. You know you have seen it. That hand that you don’t have a body attached. Also try to avoid hand poses where the hand is tight like a fist, as you will end up with a club. Key to a good hand pose is a natural and ballet hand like shape to the hands. When the hands are touching another body part, the hands should be resting next to it, and never bearing weight. If you bear weight, the hands will press the skin and create a heavy look on the skin that they touch. When posing with someone else, like a child or loved one, the hands add feelings through gestures. And, if you can’t get them to behave, give them something to do like hold a flower, play with a piece of fabric, or anything that the hand can interact.

What about the arms? Good question. Any image where you have both arms showing, they should be at different levels or be asymmetrical in the image. This means that one should be high, the other lower than the first. You also want to keep the elbows out and away from the body for all but the thinnest models. Lastly with arms, you will want “open” poses where the arms are away from the body rather than “closed” poses where the arms cross the body or block the camera’s view of you.

This post hopefully gave you some tips on posing and some new terms for when a photographer tells you that you need to correct while posing in front of them.

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Posted in: Modeling, Posing