CSI of Model Posing

As a photographer of amateur and professional models alike, there are a couple of main things that help the model-photographer team make a photograph go from just good, to outstanding.

Those things are:

1) Relaxation – The photos will reveal when the model is not relaxed. And relaxation comes when the model has confidence in the photographers skills, trusts the photographer to give her direction and help make her appear the best she can be. Relaxation also comes with time. Most often the best photos come at the end of the session, when the model has become more relaxed. But also after they’ve changed outfits a few times, thus missing those great shots.

2) Posing – Good posing comes with relaxation. But, there are some basic rules and techniques that we can put into practice right from the start of a shoot.

a) C-S-I poses

Once you know and put into practice these three simple things, every photoshoot will produce outstanding results; as long as you have a skilled photographer that can handle the rest.


Although this is actually a reverse ‘C’, we can see the models head pointed in the same direction as her leading leg. The ‘C’ is accentuated by leading the eye along the curve of her bent arm. We can see parts of the ‘S’ pose mingled in here, but the overwhelming pose is still ‘C’.  The pose is also aesthetically pleasing due to the triangles formed by the model’s arms.


In this classic subtle ‘S’ pose below, the model’s head is bent slightly to her left, her hips are accentuated forward, and the weight is on her right leg.

The ‘I’ pose is quite simply a straight up and down pose. But notice how the model brings one leg forward of the other to slim her hips. The raised arm incorporates the start of an ‘S’ pose…these are not hard and fast rules, and many good photos incorporate a hybrid of two or more of the basic poses. The model was slightly tilted for effect using photoshop.It’s not as easy as it looks. Try one right now…or all three. If you can’t seamlessly transition from one pose to the other it just means you’ll need to practice more! And, if you practice, you’ll be more confident in your own body, and more relaxed, enabling the photographer to do what he does best: make outstanding photos of you!Here’s a link to a video with some other standards in posing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFKrrdJxakE

b) Hands

Hands can make or break a photo. If they are not positioned correctly they stand out like….well, like a sore thumb. And the general rule of thumb is: keep the fingers together and uncurled. First, we don’t want to amputate the fingers by curling them. And second, we don’t want to exasperate the problem by combining the curl with spread fingers, producing the dreaded CLAW. Using the above photos as examples, we see an exception to the rule where the model is gripping a football: perfectly acceptable in the context. The other hand could have benefited from avoiding the slight spread. In the middle photo, the model is gently gripping her top. The keyword here is gently. Notice that the fingers are slightly amputated, but acceptable. In the third photo however, the model is covering her nipples (which were covered with a piece of black gaffers tape), but her fingers are spread. This photo would not only look better if her fingers were together and gently cupped, but also avoid the extra work of photoshopping the nipple (or in this case tape).

The second most important thing when dealing with hands is to avoid placing hands at the same level. As with anything, there are certain exceptions, but the best photos will have always have the hands at different levels. Whether on your hips, waist, or legs, shifting one hand up or down just a few inches can not only change the whole flow of the photo, but make you look trimmer and slimmer at the same time.

c) Expression – Please, no Zoolanders

In the movie, Zoolander, the main character has one signature ‘look’. In reality, shooting 500 frames of a model with only one look is not only boring, but leaves fewer choices when picking out which photos to edit. One thing you can do to give your expression a sensual look is to practice whispering some vowel. In particular, try whispering I O U in an exasgerated, drawn-out manner. Give it a try and look in the mirror as you do it. IIIIIIIIIIIIII, then OOOOOOOOOOOOO, and UUUUUUUUUUUUuuuuuu. ONE of them may look like the zoolander expression, but not all three! What your lips do, the rest of your face will follow.