PGM: Posing

This entry is from my series: A Photographer’s Guide To Models.

Pretty girls who want their picture taken are abundant. Models are few and far between.

What’s the differences?

A model’s got skills. 🙂

There are a lot of skills a model has, but the two I’m going to talk about are expressions and poses.

The cry of the pretty girl is “Tell me what to do”. The mark of an experienced model is they change poses and expressions so quick you have to slow them down. Every time the shutter clicks or the strobes fire, they are changing.

If you are interested in going from pretty girl to model its time to build your skills. A skill is different from knowledge. I may have knowledge of all the moves in ballet, but I don’t have the skills. The skills come from one thing.


The type of practice most beginning models think of are actual shoots. These are great and you do learn every time you shoot, but let’s face it, you won’t be shooting that much. If you are brand new to the modeling game, you’ve got a crappy portfolio and no skills. What do you have to offer a photographer? Money? How much shooting can you afford to learn? Not enough right?

The other practice method is the mirror. Its free. You can do it every day. Expressions can be practiced in the bathroom mirror every morning. Take your face through different emotions, happy…seductive…alluring…aloof…mildly annoyed.

Try to communicate something with just your expression. What expression would you use to tell that cute guy across the room “Come here baby” or “You have no chance, stop looking at me.” Think up scenarios and try them out.

Try subtle changes to your expressions and see how they change things. Move your chin up or down. Move slowly so you can catch what angle makes the difference. Open you eyes wider and wider. How does that look? Move your lips around. Say your vowels. Smile and change your head angle.

Try to “amp up” expressions. Take a common expression and try to make it stronger in what ever it is expressing. For instance, say you have an expression of happiness. Start at “I’m a little happy” and make it more and more happy. Keep adding that something to the expression till it gets down right silly looking. Till it’s cartoony. Sometime that’s just what you need. Pinup expression are over the top like that.

In the video below watch what the model does when the photographer says “I want to catch you smiling.” (Around 6:23). She smiles strait at the camera, them pulls her chin up and looks at the sky while smiling large. It gives an whole new feel.

Now get a full body mirror. Try out poses you’ve seen in magazines. Try dancing in front to the mirror and freezing when something catches your eye. Then do the subtle changes to arms and legs like you did with expression.

Some photographic genres have very iconic poses. If you are doing pinup, there are a lot of poses to learn. If you are doing fitness, the poses empathize muscle groups.

Now mix them together. What expressions go well with what poses? Pinup expressions are great with pinup poses. Do they work with fitness poses?

Photographers, like me, search video site for behind the scenes photoshoot videos. Models should too.

This musician Aubrey is good. Not only is she that blonde bombshell kind of pretty, but she’s got lots of expression and energy.

Wonder what fitness poses look like?

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