TIPS & INSPIRATION
1. WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO ACHIEVE
Before thinking about posing, you need to decide what sort of modelling you want. Pageant, Fashion, other ? Pageant tends to be more formal, traditional, rigid, with tried and successful poses. Fashion tends to be more natural, relaxed, fluid and discourages anything that looks formally posed.
Over the years fashion posing has constantly changed. What was accepted years ago is now different. For example 30 years ago, each pose was a work of art, with rigid care over every detail. Today fashion is far more fluid, movement , with models encouraged to experiment.
I personally strive to achieve a modern fashion look. I encourage, freedom, a sense of movement, a natural relaxed look. However true fashion is all about the clothes, whereas I like to put the emphasis on you and your expression. My mentors are leading fashion photographers. (Charles Howells, Michael Ng, Damien Nakora). They discourage anything that looks over posed. So this article has a Fashion bias.
Some years ago I met with one of Auckland's top agencies to obtain a TFP model and was told, "Unless you change your style, we can not offer you a model". Perhaps the best discussion I have ever had, as it followed with what changes I should make. Thanks Ruth Parker-Dude (RPD Models www.rpdmodels.com).
So what modelling style do you want ?
2. HOW TO POSE
A big word of caution. While I can give you some guide lines, there are really no rules. So please, just enjoy the journey, experiment with the tips and find out what works for you. Perhaps the best thing about starting on the journey is that you will become aware of some of the issues, so that, when a photographer suggests you do this or that you will understand what he is trying to achieve.
I think the best shots come, where the photographer and model agree on a theme and feeling and the model gives her own interpretation, yes the odd tip and guidance along the way, but the model needs to relax and look natural with a "Constant" - "Flow" of "NATURAL" poses.
Next, When you are posing in front of the camera, don't get anxious or worry about making every pose looks good, your job is to get lost in the moment and provide poses, allow the photographer to worry about getting the good looks.
So lets look behind the scene at a highly acclaimed New York photographer. As this is where you are heading. The video link makes it look like a dream shoot, however most beginner models find it difficult to just act the part and need more guidance. I include this to show how the model moves, rather than stops as each poses is executed. It illustrates "Constant" - "Flow" of "NATURAL" poses. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mtv6JoZ-LKU&feature=youtu.be
An important thing to observe in the above video is that the model makes lots of small adjustments, instead of dramatic moves. The model is giving the photographer numerous opportunities to capture similar poses, by keeping the movements small, with only subtle changes ensuring at least one in the bunch will be good. Radical movements from side to side are impossible to track and they waste time.
Finally. Show "YOUR" personality. By all means use other girls poses to develop your skill, but above all, add your own personality. Your smile, your attitude, your feeling. That is likely to create a "Constant" - "Flow" of "NATURAL" poses.
Lets get underway.
1. Understand the MOOD of the shoot.
2. Stay relaxed and NATURAL
3. Know your best ANGLES
4. Keep HANDS delicate
5. Maintain strong EYES
6. Play around with EXPRESSIONS
7. Don't be afraid to EXPERIMENT.
1. Understand the MOOD of the shoot.
Before shooting, discuss the theme and mood of the shoot, ideally look at clippings and a mood board to make sure you get the feel of what you need to create.
A models should communicate the feeling and emotion of the theme. If the theme has a happy theme, jump around to get in the mood then throw the happiest looks of your life. If it's romance pretend you are being romanced like never before. Hands and feet will fall more naturally if you feel the emotion through your entire body. Act it out.
Most female images are about curves and gentle shapes, feel free to wiggle and twist the body to create images that show curves, but keep it believable and natural.
Dress the part and have nicely groomed hair.
2. Stay relaxed and NATURAL
If you are apprehensive about the shoot, jump around or wiggle your body to free up your limbs and get into the feeling. Shake your hands and loosen your fingers. Pretend to sing a song and start to to feel the rhythm.
Be careful to relax your hands as they tend to show up any nervousness. See more on hands below.
If you are not relaxed you will not look natural, chances are you will start flinging your arms all over the place or adopting some pretty weird poses, Just stop and ask yourself, "Would I stand like that ? ". Avoid flinging your arms out in space, extending your arms over your head, holding an uncomfortable artificial pose, as that is not how you would normally stand.
RELAXED & NERVOUS TENSION
Good & Bad !!!!
For more natural poses check out RPD Agency, where you will see endless examples of LOOKING NATURAL. rpdmodels.com/results/women/women
3.1 KNOW YOUR BEST ANGLES
Here we get into some practical exercises. Don't just read these tips, physically emulate the ideas by standing in front of a mirror and practice them.
Spend time every day re-enacting poses you have clipped from magazines and the internet. I don't expect you to memorise the pose, but rather just let your body become familiar and comfortable with what works for you. Gradually it will become natural. Repeat the poses the next day to see if they are easier and add some new ones to build your repertoire. Practice, Practice, Practice .....
One tip, when practicing, start with your feet and get them pointing the right way, then the knees, hips and shoulders, working up the body. Finally get the head and arms into position. Hold it and check every little detail to make sure you have copied the essential elements. Then break the pose and re-build it. Hold it for a few seconds then break it. Keep repeating it till it feels natural.
Next tip. When you copy a good pose, try some experimentation. Keep the basic legs and torso position and try it with new arm or head positions, while retaining the torso position. You will usually find that the basic torso position can be used for a host of arm positions. Study the picture to see why it looks so good and check that you are using the special elements. When you think it is perfect, hold your feet and torso position and try moving your arms and head, so that you turn one basic pose into many similar poses. This is particularly useful as it means from one basic position you will achieve a whole lot of looks from one basic pose. The photographer will get lots more poses in a very short time.
When posing with a photographer and he says to move or bend a limb, don't radically change the entire pose with massive change, a mere twist of the arm may be all that is needed, or perhaps raise your arm a few centimeters. Don't dump a whole pose, when a minor tweak will do.
Finally some general tips. In bygone days there were three rules. 1. The spine should not be vertical. 2. The shoulders should never form a horizontal line, 3. The Hips should never be square to the camera. Examples would be the "S", "C", and "I" poses. Today those old rules have been replaced by a more liberal natural approach, however for a beginner they are a very good place to start. The first two rules ensure you have interesting curves. The 3rd rule helps to keep you slim. At the risk of being a little traditional, they are a good place to start. But remember that today there are no rules and you will be encouraged to keep natural and move rather than stopping to hold a pose. In fact some people don't like models learning things like "S", "C", "I". as it makes them rely on stereotype poses.
Another example is pageant work which is full of set ways of doing things, but you can enjoy all the confidence and experiences but be mindful that Fashion is more about natural.
Another useful pointer is to note, how curved lines are attractive. Draw stick figures over the clipping and draw in the spine and down the legs, or the silhouette of the waist and hips.
Try putting a straight line across the shoulders, draw a line across an imaginary belt at your waist and finally through your hips. If they are all parallel (symmetrical) the chances are it is stiff and boring.
Also note the effect of creating a triangle with your arm. Such as a hand on the hip or the head. Usually triangles work well. See Part 2 for more tips.
"S" Shape pose
"C" Shape pose
"I" Shape pose
a. STANDING. Lets start with a "3/4 on" pose. It's the basis of many poses as it is easy to create attractive curves. Basically you need to keep your spine bent, avoid symmetry and straight or parallel lines. Be careful, these must not look as if they are posed, the art is to keep an element of movement in the pose so that it becomes natural. What is special about these poses, is that I screen clipped them from a video, she never stopped for the photo.
If your are standing "straight on" to the camera, bend at least one knee (preferably the closest to the camera) to break (swing) the hips. Avoid the hips and shoulders being parallel. It helps to angle your body toward the camera. (lean from the hips) Doing so adds dimension to your shape and makes you look sophisticated. Certainly avoid leaning back. Generate shapes like a C or S.
Avoid slumped shoulders. it accentuates the shoulders and shortens your neck. Models generally display more confidence and purpose by pretending there is a string pulling up their head to lengthen their body. For lots more ideas see: www.slideshare.net/RobertChowdhry
4. Keep HANDS delicate
Keep your hands loose and fluid. Avoid clumping them or making a fist. Avoid showing the face or back of your hand, as the sides of your hand are far more delicate. ie side on beats, flat on. Where possible keep hands angled (bent) with curled fingers (eg Avoid a flat hand, plonked on your thigh or worse spread your fingers to make your hand look even bigger.). Keep the fingers close and slightly curved. Spread fingers make the hand look huge.
Try placing hands on a hip, neck, over the shoulder, tagging your belt or in a pocket or twirling the bottom of your hair. Avoid the hands being at the same height.
Generally avoid having your hands cover your face, by having them over the top of your face. Normally it looks better when your hands are just away from the jaw. Don't expect to be able to just place your hand in the perfect position, say on your shoulder, but rather place your hand behind your neck and , pretending you have ballet hands, slide it down your neck and onto your shoulder. The chances are it will arrive in a far more natural position.
A word on Arms and Legs. Just bend your limbs. They don’t have to be fully flex; just enough to break straight lines or to see triangles between those hips and legs. Remember that arms against the body make the figure look wider, a gap is preferred. Also avoid flinging arms all over the place as hands up in space or pointing out of the frame, are not natural and wreak of over posing.
5. Maintain strong EYES and use the head
Keep the eyes wide open. Make your eyes smile. Avoid showing too much white in the socket of your eyes by looking in the same general direction as your nose.
Keep the mouth slightly open. It adds vulnerability to the image while also creating a “come hither” look that is inviting to the viewer. By opening your mouth just enough to draw air in, it's about right.
Try different head position and feel the difference. Chin up a little for confidence, up further looks superior, but we don't need to look down your nostrils. Try allowing the head to tip to the side. In every day life we don't move our heads much, but for a model it can complement the feeling you want.
To promote height and poise, feel your ears are lifted up and forward. If you simply lift your chin, it can become a nostril look. If the chin is down it can look sulky or embarrassed. Try some poses in front of the mirror to feel and see these concepts. Initially lengthening the neck will feel unnatural, but try it in front of a mirror…stand normally, then roll your shoulders back allowing your face to come forward…notice the difference in the width of your neck? Try popping your jay factionally towards the camera to create a strong jaw line. Its easy to over do these things, so practise.
6. Play around with EXPRESSIONS
There's no need to give samples of expressions, but hopefully they can be spontaneous. If your smile looks great when it is fully blown, go for it, but sometimes a more subdued one works better, but just play around and know what works. Also know the mood of the shoot and try to match the expressions with the poses.
Practise expressions: Charming, Laughing, Sleepy. Serene, Sensual, Curious, Confident, Happy, Calm, Alluring.
7. Don't be afraid to EXPERIMENT.
If you feel like trying some way out variations, don't hold back. Chances are the photographer would prefer to have someone who is being spontaneous and creative, than someone he has to coax into moving.
Also a reminder that for every rule, you will find a shot somewhere of a model using it to look fabulous.
A crucial element in photography is lighting and how shadows fall on your body. As you gain experience it is helpful to learn a little about lighting. Lights can be soft of hard and they may or may not create shadows.
Sometimes the lighting may mean that your will need a left or right facing pose. If this is the case the photographer probably doesn't want you jumping from one side to the other. Also many of his adjustments will be more to do with the way the light is falling, than the correctness of your pose. For example if you have a hand on your head and an elbow pointing to the camera, it may cast a huge shadow across your face, so you will be asked to point your elbow further back.
You should also have some awareness of what is being shot. If the photographer is doing a tight shot of your upper body, (head to waist) as a general rule you should try to keep your hands within the frame, otherwise your arms will be getting cut off, which can look strange. Likewise if it is a 3/4 shot down to your knees, you can have your hands a lot lower.
When you are starting off you can not be expected to read the photographer's mind, but be assured he will work with you to create something special.
LINK to Peter Coulson doing a high end shoot in Melbourne. An inspiration to Photographers. CLICK Here
This concludes the basic Introduction. Part 2 Provides more details on specific examples.
Enjoy the journey to become a model. Collaborate with as many people as possible. Share your knowledge generously.
ADDITIONAL REFERENCES AND LINKS
No 5 Street Fashion *****,