In my previous post I described a set of general guidelines to use when working with virtually any subject, whether male or female.
How to pose models
While those guidelines stay true to any subject, I think I should get a little more in depth over a few broad areas of model posing, starting with general female posing. But keep in mind that all your models are unique, and what works for some may not work well for others.
Here are a few tips, guides, and positions to keep in mind next time you are shooting a female model:
1) Size matters, a lot.
While you shouldn’t comment on your models size you should definitely keep her size in mind. Larger women tend to be much more self conscious about their weight, and even average and small women can be very self conscious about their weight. Because of this, you should never shoot a female model straight on. This causes them to appear boxier which in turn causes them to look larger. Have your models keep their hips at a 1/3 or 2/3 angle away from the camera, with their torso facing it. This will create flattering curves and make even larger models appear smaller.
2) Sexy is Better.
This doesn’t mean that you should strip every female model down to nothing, and exploit body shots. What you need to determine is what your model finds sexy about her own body. This could physically be anything from the traditional legs, hips, butt, breast, or neck, but your model might find looking innocent, devilish, or spacy to be just as flattering. Shoot to your models strengths, not their weaknesses, but don’t forget to try other styles out. For example, if you have a nerdy girl who likes her innocent demeanor, focus primarily on shots of her looking innocent, but try to also capture a seductive side of her as well. Women like to not only look good, but feel like they look good in photos, and sometimes they do not know their own glamor in different styles.
3)Curves, an lots of them.
Psychologically speaking, women prefer objects that have soft, flowing, and smooth curves. Take this into account when you are shooting female models. If you have a back ground try to retain smooth lines or curves, to accentuate a feminine appeal. When you are posing your model, try to keep her from being straight and rigid. If you have her standing at a 3/4’s turn, then have her raise her back leg up a little or put her foot on something. If you have her sitting in a chair, have her cross her foreleg over her back leg, and lean forward. Small adjustments like these create feminine curves that will truly accentuate your shot.
4)Single, Dating, Married, Divorced, Widowed.
I think the strangest thing I’ve ever learned when shooting female models, is that what the model finds to be the best photos and poses is interdependent on their marital status. Typically, single and divorced women tend to like “sexier photos”, while women who are in a committed relationship enjoy slightly more conservative photos, and married and widowed women usually favor conservative “Family friendly” photos. This is not a rule however and really depends on the individual model. But you can general assume, that single and divorced women will enjoy a more strong suited, sexy, individualistic pose such as a low-to-high 3/4’s standing shot with their hand on their hip, and a women in committed relationships and married women typically want to have a more loving and caring pose, such as on their stomachs with their hands together against the side of their face.
5) Hair management.
Most women part their hair on one side or the other, and this is a key element for any photographer to recognize which side. The side of your models face that their hair is directed away from will usually be the side she considers her best, whether knowingly or subconsciously. This means that you should have this side of her face the closest to the camera as much as possible. Make sure to sweep the models hair on this side of her face behind her shoulder though.