How to model

We often work with new and experienced models. This page is especially for new models, but can be of some help for others. We hired you because you are a human, not a mannequin. We expect models to know some basic poses, try to make the scene look great, show your own style, and be creative. The best models have learnt some basic standing and sitting poses, and some of their own unique ones. To get you started, we suggest you get the Strike a Pose app for your smartphone, and study that. There are many things to learn, but this page focuses on three aspects: posture, hands, and face.

Posture & standing

Please, never come to a shoot without learning a few poses. Try these below and try to perfect them. For standing poses, it’s usually best to turn your hips away from the camera, and to angle your hips. It’s usually best to put your weight on one leg, and have the other leg bent. Some people shouldn’t have their knees locked straight, but unlocked or bent. Usually, keep your posture upright.

Weight on one leg, thumbs in belt loops, elbows away from the body, shoulders tilted, and head tilted.

Weight on one leg, other knee bent and across the other one. Usually, knees can sometimes look strange when they are locked and weight is on them. Here, the heel is also lifted a little. Hips and shoulders are angled away from the camera a little, but head is angled and turned slightly toward the camera.

Body turned 90 degrees away from camera, slightly pigeon-toed, rear leg bent and heel slightly raised, arms folded or hands in pocket or other place, head tilted down and slightly to camera, looking at camera.

Turned away from the camera, closest shoulder slightly up, head turned, looking at or passed the camera.

 

Hands & arms

Especially if you have large hands, avoid having showing the width of your hands to the camera; try to keep the side of your hands pointed to the camera. This is especially important if your hands are near your face.

It’s usually best to have your fingers touch your jaw, your hair, behind your ear, shoulder, somewhere. Never put weight on your arms and hands.

Always bend your arms. Never let your arms rest against your side, so to avoid squashing your arm muscles making your arms look fat.

Face & head

The main issue I have though are with facial expressions. A lot of people can do the poker-face-look really well, but I need a little more. I’d like to get some genuine emotions. For instance, for a real smile crows feet should appear in the corners of the eyes; otherwise the ‘airline hostess smile’ looks good, but fake. If we have one, ask the makeup artist to talk to you, keep you entertained.

Have more than one facial expression. Learn to convey a variety of different emotions and thoughts. The best models are the ones who have taken acting classes. However, we don’t want the Japanese style of over-the-top over-emotional expressions; it looks unrealistic and unrelateable to foreign viewers.

It’s usually best to tilt your head toward or away from the camera. Tilting to the camera gives a feeling of including the viewer, but tilting away makes the photo look more voyeuristic or like a real candid photo. Looking to and away from the camera also creates different emotions and feelings for the viewer.

During the shoot, it can be hard to find a range of emotions to express. It is easier just to talk to other people like another model or makeup artist, and ignore Andrew and his camera. While talking to them, ask questions and learn things from them, or just tell jokes. That way, the interactions look genuine, because they are genuine.


For more ideas, take a look at Dear Model by Jen Brook, Digital Photography School, this Flickr Group of Great Modelling Poses, For the Love of Dresses community on Google+, my 500px favourites, and Shine by Three. Finally, “there’s an app for that”, yes, check your smart phone’s app store. For your interest, here is a blog post of models doing 19 poses in 30 seconds.

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