In my latest post, I gave you some advice on how to get started in your modeling career. This time, I’m delving into the details of your actual modeling poses and photo shoot concepts. If you don’t know where to start or what looks flattering for you, it’s very helpful to start looking up fashion spreads in magazines and on the web. Keep in mind, there are many different shapes, shades, and heights that beauty comes in and you’ll want to look up models that are similar to you in those aspects. Some poses will work better for your body than others, and a few shades of makeup or clothing that you usually shy away from might look killer with your skin tone. Don’t get too wrapped up in a concept you love in a magazine that you try to copy every detail of it. Gather together several ideas you’ve seen. You might love the posing of one photo shoot, the makeup of another, and the styling of yet a third option. Visual references are perfect for your team so you can all execute the idea and be on the same page.
I know firsthand what it’s like to explain a concept to someone and you begin seeing a question mark forming in their head. Fortunately you can avoid my mistakes. A great thing happened when I started contacting individuals on Model Mayhem. Most of them I had never met before, so–if I had an idea–I’d send a bunch of links to shots that I liked and ask if they think they could recreate them. Even if your team had a great idea and you were pumped about how the day went, you might get your images a few days or weeks later and realize that you don’t like any of them. It’s okay to feel this way. Some photographers edit their images stylistically and it isn’t executed well. A lot of extra effects in photoshop with adjustments and filters can make it look cheesy, and in some cases you won’t even recognize yourself! I’d say about 25% or less of the photos I have are ones that I actually like. There’s nothing wrong with that, it just happens.
As far as what poses to do, it depends on what style you’re going for. My mother had this phrase she would always use: “Give them S.” The letter S has the shape that a woman’s body looks best in. The curves you want to see and the flattering figure all reside in that shape. If your shoulders are leaning one way, your hips should lean the opposite direction to balance it out. Your knees should be slightly bent to give an ease and comfort to the pose and your head might be tilted to elongate your neck. I use that when I’m going more toward a romantic feel. For a more fashion focused look, models are more stiff and angular. You’ll notice in campaigns for high-end fashion–as well as runway–that the models are the hanger and their clothing looks best with straight lines and stiff posture. Not robot stiff, but better posture than you would normally have in your everyday stance. The next time you’re at the mall, take a look at mannequins you see in most department stores like Macy’s, JCPenney, Nordstrom’s, etc. The posing is very simple, but there’s an elegance to the elongated neck, straight back, upturned wrists, and forward hips. Other times you’ll see a more awkward posture with feet slightly turned in, shoulders hunched, and the head to the side. I notice this for younger brands like Forever 21, H&M, Wet Seal, etc. They’re meant to have the universal posture of my generation and it’s an effortless/slouchy/cool look.
I used to hate it when my mom would tell me to practice my mirror work. That’s when you get in front of a full length mirror and practice different poses to see what looks good on your body. The more you practice the poses you like, the more natural they feel and you can whip them out easily when the shutter starts snapping away at your photo shoot. Even if you’re not that comfortable in front of the lens yet, it’s no reason to not start modeling. I’ve actually learned half the things I do from photographers who coached me through my own shoot. I would tell them from the start that I hadn’t modeled before and I needed them to tell me exactly what they wanted me to do. If they’re a decent, patient person they usually don’t mind. At the end of the day, they’re going to have to live with the images they capture, and it’s worth it for them if they have to coach you into the right posture.
Now that you’ve got your body in check, let’s move onto the face. A lot of models forget they have one because they’re so concerned with showing off the clothes and having an interesting pose. Nothing is worse than a killer photo with a strained neck, dead eyes, or a worried look on your face. When you’re washing your hands in the bathroom–which I hope you do–practice different smiles, laughs, serious faces, elongating your neck, tilting back your chin, etc. You’re in front of the mirror for a little while, might as well pass the time doing something helpful. You’ll start noticing things that might feel right, but look unflattering. I used to tilt my head back too much, smile too wide, or open my eyes really big because it felt “modely” when I wasn’t looking at myself. Then I noticed I looked crazy or my lips disappeared doing certain expressions. When you do find angles and expressions that you like, hold that face, and turn away from the mirror. It’s one thing to see what it looks like, now you need to remember how it feels because there will hardly ever be a mirror on set you can look at while you’re shooting.
Here are a few classic things you need to keep in mind before your shoot. Your hands and feet are most likely going to be visible, so make sure they look great! I’ve had shoots where my nail polish was chipping and it was a tight shot of my face with a hand up to my chin ruining the elegance of the photo. Also, you never know if you’ll have an impromptu barefoot in the photo, so make sure you’re ready for that. Speaking of hands and feet, make sure they’re posing when you are. I’ve had awkward hands and flat feet in my amateur shoots because I totally forgot they were there! Never limit yourself to ideas that might be inspired during your shoot. Even if the outfit you’re planning to wear keeps you covered from head to toe, shave where you usually would and wear the appropriate undergarments–usually nude and strapless–in case things do get changed up a bit.
Posing, slouching, smiling, hands, feet, and clothing are a lot to concentrate on all at once. That’s why it’s so important to practice. Look for visual references and pay attention to the details of the shot–not just the obvious ones–so that you can replicate them and make them your own in time. Also, if you feel things are getting a little awkward, ask the photographer to see a couple of the shots he just took to make sure you’re photographing the way you think you are. Most of them will be okay with letting you take a peek if they think it’s for the good of the final outcome.
Perhaps you can use these ideas on your next shoot. I’d love to hear your feedback or tips you might have that I didn’t cover. I haven’t explained the topics of developing your team or working on your runway walk, so I guess these will take longer than I thought. Well, here’s to more posts! Ciao.
❤ K. Love