There is an international language that we all know—body language. A facial expression or the slight dip of your head can signal emotion. The positioning of your body can tell a story. Now that you’ve decided to become a model and you’re on the hunt for your first modeling job, it’s time to get busy. Your future is going to be full of flashing cameras and you want to be ready for them by having an arsenal of model poses at your disposal. You’ll need them to create great shots to fill out your modeling portfolio—which you’ll need to get jobs at the top modeling agencies. So let’s get started!
A wise person once said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. While copying a supermodel’s signature pose isn’t a great idea, it’s a good idea to check out some more established models’ portfolios for inspiration. Follow models on social media, browse their print and runway work, and pore over the pages of fashion magazines. Try interpreting the models’ poses with your body and make it your own. Your own modeling portfolio will thank you. Once you’re warmed up, it’s time to start learning the basics. Let’s break down the 10 modeling poses every beginner model needs to know.
Standing Model Poses
For full-body photographs, you need to know how to frame your body to look its best in the lens.
The Full Frontal
This is where the model poses with her shoulders squared to the camera. Your hands should be doing anything but resting on your hips. Hook your thumbs in your belt loops. Tip your head to one side and run your opposite hand through your hair, or gently rest it on your shoulder. A slight slouch to your shoulders immediately makes you look relaxed and bring a sense of that relaxation to the viewer. Try adding an asymmetric element to your posing. Bend one knee, step one foot back, or bring one shoulder forward to the camera.
When a model poses side on to the camera, a strong core can make all the difference. Think of a dancer: every inch of their bodies thrums with energy, even at rest. Know where every part of your body is, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Engage your muscles. When posing in profile, you can make some amazing shapes with your body. Shift your weight off your centre and create interesting lines. Leaning and reaching can result in lovely, long lines. Be aware of how you bend your limbs: the perspective can cause them to look drastically shorter. Build space between your arms and your torso; this will keep limbs looking lean and smooth.
The three-quarter pose is a staple model pose everyone should be able to execute properly. You stand with one foot behind the other, hips facing away from the camera, and shoulders turned towards the camera. It’s a great pose to start any photo shoot with, as it’s one you can transition into many others. It also allows you to create some interesting depth with your arms and legs. Move your hands to your waist, but roll your shoulders forward, allowing your hands to slide inward on your torso to create a smaller waist. Tuck your back knee behind your front knee and you’ve created a good model pose that will turn heads.
Sitting Model Poses
Did you just arrive to the set for a photoshoot, only to find a distressed armchair on a white backdrop? These poses will tell you just how to rock that chair.
These model poses can invoke many different emotions for the viewer—depending on how your torso interacts with your legs. Knees together, ankles apart, torso folded forward, and your arms gracefully hugging your legs will give a desolate and forlorn feeling. Knees apart, elbows on your knees, chest up and your face sneering into the camera reads as tough and powerful. Innocence and excitement is conveyed with knees and ankles together and bottom on the edge of the chair, then gently folding your torso over your thighs, while keeping your shoulders and face high, facing the camera. (Think of the famous Marilyn Monroe pose that graced a million dorm room posters!)
Think: sprawl, drape, arms and legs trailing. One leg over the arm of the chair, head thrown back, and face to the camera is playful and sexy. Both knees over the arm, leaning back into the chair, and face conveying boredom makes you look haughty and indifferent. If you put your feet on the arm, and pull your knees to your chest, gently hugging your arms around your knees, you can create an intimate and flirty experience for the viewer. Especially if you add in a hair toss—and laugh into the camera.
Use the chair as you would any other prop. It’s just there to make you look more beautiful. Sitting on the floor, you can lean against it. Stretch your legs out and prop your arms on the seat. Be aware of the angle the photographer is shooting from, though. If they are at your 12 o’clock, move your legs to 1:30. This will make those gams go on for days. Floor work can be the most difficult. The part of our brain that controls posture can completely disengage when we sit on the floor. Be aware of your posture and make sure you’re keeping your core engaged. Kneeling poses involve a lot of muscle work. You’ll want to use your core and thighs to lift your bottom off your calves. When you do this your thighs look smoother, your bottom perkier and your calves smaller. This is not a beginner model pose! But with some practice in the mirror you’ll nail it in no time.
Face Model Poses
Posing for an intense and unadulterated head shot can feel very intimidating. There’s nothing to distract from your face. It’s just you and the camera. To take the edge off, just think of it as ta selfie taken by someone else!
Just like Tyra taught us! Raise an eyebrow. Part your lips slightly. Change how your shoulders face the camera. The headshot is where all that time practicing model poses at your vanity pays off. Faces aren’t symmetrical, so determine which is your stronger side and learn how to work it. Try clenching and unclenching your jaw. Bringing different muscle groups into play can shift your bone structure slightly to give a different look. Hot tip: if you’re looking for that blissed-out, sleeping look, don’t close your eyes. Direct your gaze down and away while your head remains in an upright position. It keeps your eyelids looking relaxed and your lashes beautifully fanned out.
Use your hands to create beautiful shapes to frame your face. Bring the heel of your hand to your forehead and tilt your chin upwards. Gently rest your chin on the back of your hand. The simplest of gestures can add so much. Maintaining the same neutral facial expression and simply changing your hands is a great trick for practicing beginner model poses.
With one shoulder to the camera, a glance over it can say so much. This trick will tell any photographer that you know how to pose like a model. When working in any sort of profile, it’s important to remember a few things. First, you’ll want to find your light. Be aware of how shadows are being cast on your face. Second, you’ll want to follow your nose. If you’re over-extending your gaze, you’ll show too much of the white of your eyes. For extended posing, let your gaze follow where your nose is pointed. Change it up by lifting one or both shoulders. Try raising the hand furthest from the camera to rest on your shoulder. This pose is another highly versatile one that every model needs in her repertoire.
Knowing how to create movement in a still photograph is a skill that will get you booked again and again.
- If you’re wearing a flowy garment, twitch its hemline into action. Twirly skirts make for fun photo props.
- While working in a studio, have a fan directed at you. Live your Beyoncé moment and let your hair work that breeze.
- Walk. Make your destination at an angle from the photographer. Keep your stride easy, and slow your steps.
- Go big. Jump! Leap! Pirouette! Dance! Even if all the photographs end up on the editing room floor, getting all that pent-up, nervous energy out on set can prime you for even better posing throughout the session.
- Timing is so important. Adjust your pose about every three seconds. This doesn’t mean change it completely. Just a small tilt of the head, or glance away, or adjust your fingers or shoulder position.
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