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The Art of Posing

Last month I had a model write in asking about posing. She writes: "I was wondering when you have time, do you think you could create a post on what type of poses a model is required to have to enhance the chances of getting bookings?" This is a good question, but a tricky one because as a photographer, I'm not doing the posing. Still, I’m looking at it and often directing it, and I know a good pose from a stinker. Posing is also a challenging question to address because, on some level, it’s instinctive and unique to every individual. It's hard to come up with a set of rules that everyone should abide by to get good results. With that said, I'm going to take a shot at it anyway. I think the factors listed below should be taken into account by any model who's taking this seriously as a craft.

Try This At Home Kids! Really!

Before you go out and shoot, if you have new ideas for poses in your head (especially sexy ones), you should try them out at home in front of the mirror or a video camera first. Don't wait until you get on set to try some avante garde new pose you came up with for the first time. You'll be wasting the photographer's time with your practice. Check out the pose in the mirror or on video to help you assess whether it looks goofy or works before you go out there. Which leads to our next topic...

Practice Makes Perfect

To be a good model, you have to be a master of expressions. You need to know just how to raise an eyebrow or pout the lips to get the desired results. Your body and face are your tools of trade, and you need to have complete control over them. Vogue-ing in the mirror may seem vain, but it's your job! And the more you do it, the more you'll be able to call up the desired pose or expression on command, which will result in better shots and greater efficiency. There's nothing worse than a model who is constantly asking to check the LED monitor to see if what she did worked. She should know this. If you need to get another opinion about a pose while practicing at home, make sure it's someone who's objective and not some guy who'll just be happy you're making sexy poses for him. Winking

Assess Your Target Audience

This one's pretty obvious, but the poses that will work for BlackMen magazine probably wouldn't work in Allure magazine. If you're hired for a job, you need to figure out what is expected from you on the day of the shoot so you know what to do on set.

Learn to Pose For Your Body

Everybody has a weak spot - some area they'd just as soon not get caught on film. It's your job as a model to learn how to work around your weak spot while still providing a wide range of posing choices to the photographer. It's not enough to say, like Johnny Drama on a hilarious episode of "Entourage," that the photographer just can't shoot your right side. You need to learn how to work that weak spot to your advantage.
This is especially salient in the urban genre where women may have larger backsides, cellulite, etc. I have been on several shoots with models with large backsides that weren’t sure how to pose from the back or what to do with all their “assets.” You can’t go to an urban model shoot and be shy about being thick; it just doesn’t work. So learn how to bring out that inner Sasha Fierce no matter how curvy you are.

There's Nothing Wrong With Imitation - Watch the Greats

Sad to say, not everyone has an innate sense of grace and fluidity of movement and expression, just like not everyone can naturally dance. For some, it takes more practice and training than others. If you want to be a model, you need to watch the former greats like Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell to see what they did. You're not looking to imitate exactly here, but more so adopt a style that may work for you. I'd recommend watching some of those old Sports Illustrated Swimsuit making-of DVDs. I particularly liked the ones from the late 90s.
In terms of urban models, Melyssa Ford is my favorite because she mastered the art of being titillating without being vulgar, which is a very fine line to walk. Melyssa did a lot with her face, and practically patented her rapturous, slightly parted lips expression.


Those are my tips on posing. I hope they help.

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