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Posing Breakdown
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Posing Breakdown

Posing is one of the most important parts of being a portrait photographer. You MUST be able to pose women of all different body types if you want to book women as your clients. It took Sue a lot of practice, but she can say that she has mastered posing women and she wants you to master it, as well!

When a woman walks through your studio door, knowing exactly which poses will flatter her is going to help you focus on giving her GREAT SERVICE instead of worrying about how to pose.

Sue has made it very easy for you to learn posing. She created a posing book that takes us through posing step-by-step and she also filmed it using slow-motion and in live-view for us to watch here. She shows us how to pose both lean and curvy women.

Sue’s posing rules are:

Chin | Shoulder | Hands | Hourglass | Body Language | Asymmetry | Connection

PRACTICE, PRACTICE PRACTICE all of these poses and posing rules. If you still don’t feel comfortable posing women, keep doing portfolio building shoots, practice with friends when you are at a girls night, practice with your partner. You will start to see how easily it will come to you during a shoot once you get the practice time in.

Chin Forward:

  • A resting chin on both lean and curvy bodies is not flattering for a photograph
  • You want the chin engaged.
  • Use your hand as a “chin pan” to direct the chin.
  • Have them push the chin forward towards you
  • When you have them engage their chin, the eyes begin to engage, as well
  • Pushing the chin forward flatters everybody!

Posing Using Apple Boxes:

Apple boxes are Sue’s go-to for posing props and can be used to create so many different flattering poses for your clients. Posing with the boxes give you lots of ways to engage your clients hands, arms, and shoulders. The apple boxes shown in these videos were $34 each.

  • You can use the boxes for people to lean, to boost them, to create shape in the body, create triangles, etc.
  • You can use the boxes to create triangles with the body parts and triangles make photos more interesting.
  • Don’t twist their body too far away because it will start to look disconnected.
  • Always look for asymmetry in the arms
  • Pull the boobs back
  • Their shoulders need to be up and over their elbows. Don’t let them come forward on their neck and shoulders! Make sure they are sitting up.
  • Watch the thumbs and fingers!

Shaping the Body & Shoulders:

When posing, it is so important to pose from the feet up. Posing from the feet up allows you to shape the hips with the position of the feet.

  • Having her come up onto one toe while standing allows her to bend her knee and have shape in her waist, which creates an hourglass
  • Creating that hourglass shape is beautiful for both curvy and lean bodies
  • When they start to move their feet, then you can change their hip position
  • Then, you can start using the hands and arms to create even more shape and define the shape around their waist
  • Kicking out the hip and putting one elbow bent and slightly behind the waist will create great shape
  • Have her touch the outsides of her thighs and slide the hands up with a slight bend in the elbow. Don’t pin the shoulders back and don’t roll the shoulders forward!
  • Changing the shoulder position will very quickly change the body language!
  • When you go into rotation poses, how you place the elbow is very important! Make sure not to cover the breast shape — you don’t want to lose that shape.
  • Don’t rotate so far that her nose breaks the cheek line.

Posing Hands:

Use the touch points when moving and posing the hands. Practice in the mirror moving your hands on the touch points on your own body. You need to get good at this to demonstrate for your own clients.

  • Only touch the belly if your client is pregnant
  • No hands on her bust! Either your client or her partner
  • Don’t cover the throat or the “diamond”
  • You do want “ballet” hands
  • Stay away from clawed fingers, stiff hands, “thunderbirds”, fists, and back of the hand.
  • You must always keep an eye on the hands! They will quickly revert back to a pose you don’t want.

Rule of Nines:

If you are feeling a bit stuck when you are photographing your client, start moving their face and start moving their shoulders. You want to look at the face in nine positions before deciding which angle looks best.

  • Don’t let the nose go so far away from you that it goes into the cheek and you don’t want too much white in the eyes
  • The “up” face positions tend to be better for leaner bodies and the “down” positions tend to be better for curves.

Laying Down Pose – Curves:

The laying down pose is such a beautiful portraits and has been one of Sue’s biggest selling positions.

  • Have her lay down on her tummy so that the pressure is on her tummy and not on her knees.
  • Be careful with older clients or clients who have knee injuries because they might not be able to do this.
  • You want the arms away from the shoulders and forward.
  • Bring the chin to the front to connect towards the shoulder.
  • Her knees and feet should be out of frame.

Tilting/Reclining Poses:

Tilting poses are great for women with curves. These poses are very flattering!

Standing Tilt:

  • Have her widen her stance a bit and face her front foot towards you and her back foot on a 45 degree angle away from you.
  • Have her drop her front shoulder and do a slight bend from the waist.
  • Tell her to push the chin forward and bring it around to her shoulder.

Sitting Tilt:

  • Have her sit in a normal sitting position at 45 degree angle to you.
  • Tell her to bend slightly at the waist.
  • Hands them come to the sides of the thighs and elbows go back.
  • Engage the chin forward to the front shoulder.

Fashion Pose:

The fashion pose works great for lean bodies because you can get the space around the body that you need to make this pose look good. This is very much a fashion style pose. It is much more flattering to open up a curvy body instead of closing it down like in this pose.

  • Use staggered boxes so that you can get one knee higher than the other in order to create a triangle between the legs.
  • Make sure the shoulders aren’t straight on to the camera. Put them more at 45 degree.
  • Create more triangles by having her touch the “touch points” with her hands.
  • It’s okay to have a curve in the back because that is more of a fashion style.
  • Having her come up onto her toe with the bent knee will elongate her leg.
  • Make sure you are not shooting down on her

Cover Girl Pose:

This pose must looked relaxed, not stiff and awkward and Sue gives you tips and tricks in this video how to achieve relaxed:

  • Have them push one hip out to the side, but DON’T let them tip sideways like a teapot and don’t drop the opposite shoulder
  • They will often put their hands on their hips to start, but you need to find the smallest part of their waist and that is where their hands should be
  • Have them bring their hands in towards their belly button a bit. This creates a faux waste.
  • Don’t let their shoulders roll forward! Don’t let them hunch and hold tension in their shoulders.
  • Tilt them forward towards you ever so slightly for curves works well.
  • Have a little asymmetry with one hand higher than the others.
  • Practice this in the mirror on yourself.