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Model Posing

The reason posing can create problems is because inexperienced models will look to you for direction. If your model is waiting for you to tell her what to do and you freeze up or don’t have any decent ideas you will struggle to create good photos. It’s up to you to take charge and tell the model how to pose. The key is preparation – you need a set of poses you can suggest to the model.

Update: since writing this post we’ve released our Handy Portrait Posing Guide with 67 sample portrait poses.

Before the shoot

Here are some points to think about before the shoot:

What kind of shoot is it? The posing requirements for a family portrait are very different than a fashion shoot. You can think about posing once you’ve decided what type of photo you are going to create.

Look for inspiration online. Chances are you have a few favourite photographers you follow on websites like Flickr and 500px. You will find some good poses in their portfolios. Download your favourites to your smartphone (or use Pinterest to create a mood board, covered in more detail in my article How to Plan the Perfect Portrait Shoot). Then you have something you can show to your model. Don’t try and commit the poses to memory – you will forget them under pressure.

Match the pose to your model. This is important. You’ll see some wonderful poses in fashion magazines. But many of them need a professional model to carry them off. Your model may not be able to do that, especially if she has a different body type than the people in the magazine.

Buy the Posing App. It gives you over 300 poses that you can access on your smartphone. The best way to use it is to select five to ten and make them your favourites. Then you can show them to your model so she understands the what you’d like her to do.

How to pose models
Screen shots from the Posing App. The line drawings are easy to understand and follow.

The author of the app has written several articles about posing for Digital Photography School you will find useful (click the link to see a list).

During the shoot

No matter how experienced or inexperienced your model is, here are some tips to help you find the perfect pose during the shoot:

Build rapport. This is essential. If your model likes you and sees what you are trying to achieve she will work harder. If you talk to her about things she likes you will see more life in her eyes and get better expressions, including natural smiles. She will be more relaxed. If your model is tense, you are going to struggle to get natural looking portraits. Take the pressure off her and bring it back on yourself. Assure her that if the photos don’t work out that it’s your fault, not hers. Build her confidence.

Look for natural expression. As you talk to your model you will notice natural expressions and mannerisms that you can use. Don’t be afraid to say “hold that pose” or “do what you did just now again”.

How to pose models
I noticed the model had a interesting mannerism so I asked her to repeat the gesture. This portrait is one of her favourites

Adapt poses. When you suggest a pose, such as one used in another photo or from the Posing App, treat it as a starting point, then adapt it to suit your model. If she looks unnatural in a certain pose, then adapt it so it suits her body and the clothes she’s wearing.

How to pose a model
The pose on the left is one I found in the Posing App. For the second portrait I asked my model to drop her left arm so I couldn’t see it. Don’t be afraid to tweak poses, sometimes a small change makes a big difference.

Simplify. Keep everything as simple as possible. That applies to composition and the clothes and jewellery worn by your model. If she has too much jewellery on, ask her to remove some. It will improve the composition. If you’re struggling to find a good full-length pose, move in closer and shoot from the waist up, or do a head and shoulders portrait. The background will go more out of focus, and there will be less of the model in the photo.
How to pose models
Simplification in action. The closer you crop, the easier it is to pose your model. This is a good technique to use if you are struggling to make a certain pose work.

Pay attention to detail. Especially hands, which often look better side on to the camera. Look at photos where the model’s hands look elegant or are otherwise well posed, and ask your model to do the same. Check her hair to make sure stray strands aren’t blowing across her face or eyes. Look at her clothes to make sure they aren’t wrinkled or creased in a strange way.

Find something for your model to lean on. This makes it much easier to find a natural looking pose.

How to pose models
Two different ways to use a wall to give a model something to do. The Posing App has lots of poses for leaning.

Use props. If the model has something to hold or otherwise interact with, it gives her something to do. If she is having fun you’re more likely to get a great expression.

How to pose models
The model in this photo is into hooping. Using the hoop as a prop gave her something to hold and added interest to the portrait.

How to pose models
I suggested the model bring her horses along to the shoot. The horses are a natural prop and her interaction with them led to photos like this one.

Over to you

Do you have any tips for our readers about posing models? What has worked for you? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.

Update: since writing this post we’ve released our Handy Portrait Posing Guide with 67 sample portrait poses.

The Natural Portrait photography ebookThe Natural Portrait

My ebook The Natural Portrait teaches you how to take beautiful portraits in natural light. This 240 page ebook, published by Craft & Vision, takes you through the entire process of natural light portrait photography through from finding a model, deciding where to shoot, working with natural light and post-processing your images. Click the link to learn more or buy.

How to Become a Model (Follow these steps)

Take care of yourself! Features indicative of good health are a must. Eat and drink healthy foods and beverages, work out, take care of your outer appearance (and inner peace of mind), and look good in clothes. It’s a simple equation, but it’s harder than you might think to execute.

  • Focus on keeping your skin clear and glowing. Wash your face in the morning and at night, exfoliate once a week, and remember to wash your makeup off before you go to sleep.
  • Shiny and healthy hair is important. Some agencies and Managers prefer the “natural greasy look” so if you prefer to minimally shower that is okay too.
  • Fitness is important. Consider working with a trainer who works specifically with models. Tell them your modeling goals and how you want to look. Tell them how you feel and your opinions.
  • Eat right. Contrary to what some people tell you, you should eat healthy foods, as well as healthy amounts of food. Veggies, fruits, whole grains, and proteins should make up the basics of your diet. Sugars, starches, empty carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats should be avoided as much as possible.

    Decide what kind of model you hope to be. Technically, anybody can be a model. However, do remember that if you don’t meet certain requirements, the work available to you will be incredibly limited, and you may have to compensate in other departments (reliability, technique, etc).

    • A Plus Size Model: If your body is full and curvaceous, you may be able to be a plus size model (for example, Crystal Renn).
    • A Runway Model: Most women on the catwalk are at least 5’9, and commonly small-breasted. Men are mostly between 5’11 and 6’2. This does not fully pertain to Victoria’s Secret models.
    • A Print Model: Most editorial female models are at least 5’7, but a beautiful face with great personality are really important for print models.
    • An Underwear Model: For women, this requires large breasts but small hips. For men this requires broad shoulders but slim waists.
    • A Promotional Model: Some companies want their customer base to interact directly with models who are generally attractive with like-able personalities to promote their brand. You may see these models in grocery stores, events or clubs promoting things like food, liquor brands or new products.
    • A Spokesmodel: Models who are hired to be consistently associated with a specific brand. Contrary to popular thought models don’t always have to verbally promote the brand.
    • A Trade Show Model: Hired by companies or brands to advertise to attendees at a trade show tent or booth. Typically not employed by the company but hired as “freelance” models for the event. (Ex. Magic Market Week in Las Vegas NV)
    • Other Types of Modeling: If you don’t fit any of the face or body descriptions, perhaps you can be a foot, hair, or hand model. There’s also the option of being an alternative model.
    • Consider your “look”. There is more of a curvy California look, a svelte and sophisticated New York look, a waif-like European look, girl next door, swimsuit or lingerie (usually requires the bust to fill out the suits and a very thin waist). Know what you’re equipped with, but also work to pull off other looks.

    Educate yourself. There is a lot you can learn from reading books and articles on modeling. Reading quality guides, articles, and books will both help you to improve important skills (like posing) and to better understand how the industry works (how to find an agent, etc.).

    • Realize that it’s tough. The modeling world is jam-packed with pretty faces. Just because you are good looking does not mean that you can succeed as a model. In the modeling business, it is not just about looking great. You have to fit the need of specific jobs just in order to get a chance. Modeling is only for serious people who carry unique looks and characteristics. Since there are so many people trying to become models in today’s world, it’s very challenging to get a breakthrough and will only come with patience and perseverance.
    • Realize that a model does not always have to look like a supermodel. With a lot of effort, however, you may reach that supermodel status. One of the most important things to remember is to never be shy and don’t apologize if you mess up! Yes, some models tend to act “stuck-up” and “overly confident” but as long as that makes you feel good, go ahead! Be yourself, and remember to act. Modeling requires a lot of acting skills so acquire a little attitude.

Tips:

  • Don’t let one or two bad comments by people that are not important let you down. Everyone else thinks you are great!
  • Be careful when signing contracts or releases. Some contracts may require you to model exclusively for a particular agency. A lot of releases (which are more like mini-contracts that are done for a single shoot) will emphasize the photographer’s right to an image, saying that they may do whatever they wish, but don’t mention the model’s rights. It is your image they are using, and you have a say in what is done with pictures taken of you. Make sure to discuss this before signing anything.
  • If you get rejected it’s important how you react. Just because you didn’t make it doesn’t mean you won’t next time. Be confident.
  • Know your limits on style and nudity. If you don’t want to do glamour work or are uncomfortable doing full nudity, speak up and don’t let people push you past those limits. Also, consider where you want your career to go in the future. Sure, you may be comfortable doing glamour now, but what if you decide you want to do fashion or catalog work in the future? You might be discriminated against if they know you have done this line of work.
  • You can also enter modeling contests. However, make sure you check that these are being run by a reputable agency.
  • Some modeling schools are licensed by the Board of Education. However, whether or not they will teach you how to become a model is questionable, and some agencies even say that attending a modeling school can teach you bad habits that are hard to unlearn! They are also expensive.
  • Get your parents’ permission if you’re under the age defined by your country as being an adult.
  • Girls / Ladies – when on a Go-see it is recommended that wear an easy to remove outfit without tight straps or any details that will leave marks on your skin, no bra and flesh coloured thong underwear. This will optimize your ability to look good in any outfit the designer or fashion show organizers want you to try on.
  • If, for whatever reason, you’ve decided signing with an agency isn’t right for you then you could consider going freelance. But be warned: the pay is usually considerably less and there are fewer safety precautions.

 

Composition Leading-Lines

To effectively compose a visually appealing photograph there are some things you should consider before you press the shutter button.  Leading Line will lead the eye through the photograph and keep the viewer in the picture. Here is an idea and rule to make that good photograph great!
Use Leading Lines for Better Compositions
Image
Leading lines are like visual roadways that guide the viewer’s eye through the frame.  They can also create dept.  Examples of this are a winding road, river, fence lines.  Leading lines draws a viewer into the  scene and paves an easy path for the eye to follow through different elements of a photo.  Usually they start at the bottom of the frame and guide the eye upwards and inwards, from the foreground of the image to the background, typically leading toward the main subject.
The easiest place to find a leading line is on a road.  Roadways are inherently leading because they go somewhere, give us a feeling of motion, and the lines often point so far inwards that they reach a vanishing point – the place where two or more lines converge into theoretical infinity.
The leading lines of the road converge to create a sense of infinity.
When leading lines, such as roads, connect the foreground to the background of a scene, they help to create depth and multidimensional which draws the viewer into the image.
Leading lines are all around us in cities and in nature.  Your job as the photographer is to find them and arrange them in your photograph so that they lead towards something, even if that something is infinity.

Photography

Professional photography is an excellent career choice for anyone who wants to get paid for using their creative talents. It’s one of the few fields where age and college degrees aren’t as important as a good eye, a quality product, and self discipline. Photography is a competitive field, however; so be prepared to start small, while you perfect your craft and build a portfolio of your best work. The tips below should help get you started.

1

Know your gear. A major misconception about professional photographers is that you must have a fancy camera body or multiple lenses in order to be successful. While having a great camera certainly does improve your business, being a successful photographer has more to do with knowing the ins and outs of camera basics. Before considering photography as a business, you need to know your camera and gear like the back of your hand.

  • Start off with a basic camera before jumping into buying a camera ranging in the thousands of dollars. A good photographer can take photos with a lower-end camera model, so get comfortable with a basic body first. As you begin to understand the camera and lenses, then look into purchasing new additions.
  • Read books, magazines, and online articles for the most up-to-date information on camera settings and tips and tricks. These will help to teach you new ways to use your camera and lenses to create great photos.
  • Make sure you are knowledgeable in how to use your other camera gear, such as a remote flash or different lenses. Having a background in these will significantly improve your photos.
2

Build your portfolio. In order to get hired by someone who isn’t a close family member or friend, you will need to have a portfolio built up to show off your best work. Use photographs from multiple shoots with different subject matter to show the range of your talents. Make sure that your portfolio is comprised of more than just five or ten photos; people will want to see the great work you’ve done.

  • Take photos every day to hone your skills and provide a wide range of images to choose for your portfolio. These photos don’t have to be of planned photo shoots; they can be from scenes in everyday life.
  • Hire beginning models for free from local agencies in exchange for free prints to use for your portraits. This gives you the opportunity to pose someone however you would like without having to pay them.
3

Decide on your forte. If you love doing portraits, then advertise yourself as a portrait photographer. If weddings are your favorite, then get the word out that you are a wedding photographer. Find your area of expertise and use it to your advantage in your business.

  • Try multiple areas of photography before settling on one as your favorite, and don’t exclude any business opportunities simply because they aren’t in your realm of expertise.
  • If you are incredibly opposed to a certain type of shoot – for example, many photographers refuse to do weddings because of the high stress levels involved – don’t feel forced into it because it represents a business opportunity. Only do photography that you enjoy and feel comfortable with; you will begin to dislike your business otherwise.