Secrets Of Posing For The Camera. A Professionals Guide

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This photography Secrets for Posing for the Camera guide for photographers, directors, artists and models is not intended to be a complete and totaly indepth guide, that would take much more space than we have here. It is designed to give you a basic understanding as to the importance and science of posing and suggest where the more indepth analysis of this subject can be studied.


It is not possible to be entirely precise, for definitions vary, the meanings change with the times and a good deal of healthy controversy exists. The dictionary says it is, first, a position  of the body attitude.

Its secondary meanings, however, have negative connotations of artificial appearance - placing or putting, mere affectation, pretense, rigid stance, etc. The modernist winces and avoids its use, for photography has advanced with the speed of its lenses and films and left the word pose - as it maintains inflexibly its old meaning - draining life and vitality out of action. Although, we too, must use the word - we ask you to accept it in its new and broadest sense. Pose (or Posing) today includes something more basic, a state of composure, balance ... poise before the camera.

A pose may be deliberately assumed with gestures and attitudes designedly adapted to mood or position... yet that does not preclude candidness. The manner is which the body achieves a position before the camera (the action can be as candid or deliberate as you please) is posing in the modern sense, and the state in which it is recorded (in either poised consciousness or oblivion to the camera) is the pose.

Once you know how the figure functions, and the results thereby obtained, it is up to you to decide whether the pose is desirable or undesirable for the job at hand. For instance, a certain hand position may be generally recognized as awkward or conspicuous. This position would be undesirable if you wanted your picture to express grace and loveliness. On the other hand, it could very well serve to characterize a gangling teenager or call attention to an object or important copy in an advertisement.

You must increase your awareness of how symmetry of figure in pictures follows a consistent pattern. That pattern, when analyzed, establishes basic truths that beat like a motif throughout prize-winning and time-tested pictures. These truths are the fundamentals of which we speak.

All art (and we do consider posing an art) as well as a science, has its basic fundamentals. Teachers readily admit that rules have a tendency, at first, to be confining. However, after they are learned well, creativity springs from the sound foundation they form. As your skill and knowledge develop, you yourself will burst the confines of these basics to improvise in good taste.

No longer will you be laden with technicalities; you will be free to create. There are no rules for the director or model who know what they are about and specifically set out to accomplish the taboo with a confident flourish. When you have the talent, to utilize it on these special effects.
However, neither personal flourishes, style changes nor photographic trends will ever radically affect the value of good fundamentals. They can always be intelligently adapted to fit the times and situation.


Is any person, regardless of experience, age or sex, who appears before the camera. Although we refer to the model as she because the majority of models are female this term also includes any male subject who appears before the camera.


Is the person who has the completed picture in mind and whose job it is to call forth the needed position and response from the model. Regardless of whether he is called art director, floor director, talent director or production director, his specific responsibility is control of the personnel and not the camera.


Whether amateur or professional, is the person responsible for the camera's behavior and, in most instances, is also the director of model action. It is to this director phase of his photographic endeavors that we address.


The division of posing can be divided into four major parts, the body, the legs, the arms and the head. This is no arbitrary arrangement. It is the logical order of posing.

1. Body - because it is the largest and most prominent mass, is your starting point.

2. Legs - support the body and must therefore be considered next.

3. Arms - coordinate the design of the picture and act as liaison between the body and the facial message.

4. Head - is posed last because expressions must be caught at their peak of spontaneity. Facial expression climaxes the mood and message of the complete arrangement.

This progression of posing, whether basic or advanced, makes no rules but states facts and proven results. Use what you will and discard what seems unimportant


Have you ever seen yourself in silhouette? You will be amazed to discover that your silhouette can tell you more about modeling than your mirror! Your silhouette, more than anything else, can give you a clear idea of many points:

1. The variety of positions your body is capable of forming.

2. A workable understanding of weight distribution and poise.

3. The changes, resulting from slight movement.

4. Basic conveying of mood and character.

5. The vital changes that result when the camera transforms your rounded figure into a two dimensional picture.

6. How your silhouette proportions change in different body positions.

Once you mentally control yourself in silhouette, you can create poses or take instructions from your director/photograper with ease. A model who does not know how her body moves and balances itself, seems to fall apart when asked to shift a hip or move a hand. Working with your silhouette at home will give you an understanding of what the camera sees and practice will help you call forth what's needed to adjust or hold any pose.

Practice... is started by first analyzing the work of some of the successful models whose pictures appear in current women's magazines and fashion catalogues. Practice duplicating these poses in silhouette, set an unshaded table lamp on the floor. The bulb should be about hip high and about 10 feet from a smooth, light colored wall. Darken the room by turning off all other lights. In a form-fitting bathing suit or leotard, stand about two feet from the wall, facing it. The shadow you cast on the wall is a pretty good replica of the silhouette a camera sees. Notice how each move alters your form. Remember - every alteration represents a change the camera will record in the outline of a real position. Spread your collection of diagrammed magazine poses before you on the floor. Duplicate each in turn. Note the following in each pose:

1. The direction the body is facing.

2. Which leg supports the bulk of the body weight.

3. The identity of the letter formed by its long-line.

4. The position and proportion of the hips and shoulders.

5. Clean-cut waistline.

6. Lowered shoulders and definite neckline.

7. Expression of character.

Close your eyes and think of a silhouette in an 'S' or 'C shape line. Make your body conform to the mental picture and when you think you have achieved it, open your eyes. Notice how close or how far you were from what you thought you were doing. Make the necessary changes that would give you what you pictured and any minor adjustments that will create an interesting or flattering silhouette. Remember those changes ... how little or how much movement was necessary. If you find after considerable practice that you tend to repeat posing faults in silhouette, you will now know where weakness lies.

Practice duplicating the silhouettes in your collection and gradually add to your posing repertoire. Find and diagram at least:

5 acute sitting figures,

5 obtuse sitting figures,

5 geometric sitting figures,

10 mixed-angle sitting figures.

Also find at least:

5 acute kneeling figures (these may be on one knee or two),

5 obtuse kneeling figures,

5 geometric kneeling figures,

10 mixed-angle kneeling figures.

In silhouette, practice arranging yourself in a sitting or kneeling position with your eyes closed and after you think you have  the  pose .... open your eyes and examine what you have done. Would your silhouette be improved if you .... pulled in your tummy? .... raised your chest? .... dropped your shoulders for a  better neck and chin line? .... shifted your weight slightly? .... separated your arms from your waistline? Would anyone looking at your silhouette know what you are doing? In other words .... is your silhouette more than a blob?

A good exercise to get you thinking from the camera's point of view:

1. Select any spot in the room and pre tend that it is a camera.
2. Face it.
3. Present a side-view to it.
4. Present a 3/4 front view to it.
5. Select another spot and try to present a 3/4 back view to it before you can count ten.
6. Mentally compose a sitting position.

Select another camera spot and see if you can arrange your body easily from that viewpoint. Train your body to flow easily into positions that feel right - and look right. That's the job half done ... and the rest is fun!

This guide is just a very small portion of a very large and indepth and detailed guide that includes many sections and diagrams for the professional photographer, director, artist and models.

If you are interested in studying the science and art form of posing from a more indepth, intricate and detailed scource, you can find more information and obtain a copy here:

 Secrets Of Posing For The Camera. A Professionals Guide.

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