THE dreaded question. In all my seminar workshops all around the country, there’s always one participant that would ask me how to pose a model. I know somebody will ask it at some point and it is just a matter of time that somebody will have the courage to ask. When the question is finally asked, I’m like a light bulb looking confident acknowledging the question.
I would almost always start by saying that I totally understand where you’re coming from because I really do. I know the feeling and the pressure when the model would finally raise the question and ask what will be her posing. It’s the feeling you get when you’re taking the finals exam at school and you have no idea how to answer it.
The truth is it shouldn’t be a problem in the first place if you planned for it. The solution to the problem is to include posing in your pre-shoot planning. It is common to prepare ahead the location of the shoot, outfits to wear, props and the concepts. Why not include the poses of the model?
When I was starting up, aside from the mood board that I prepare for the concept, I also look for possible poses for the model that can jive with the concept. The poses are detailed to the hand position, body angle, leg position and more to match the fixtures and lighting design in the set. I prepare many options that we can try during the shoot.
Not all models can do a particular pose. They have their way with their head and body that works well with a particular pose. Just like photographers or designers, they haver their specialty and particular poses that work for them. That why you should look at the model’s portfolio before the shoot so you’ll know what would work best.
During the actual shoot, you can always start with one of your pre-planned poses, but you should allow the model to add to it. Too much direction will result to harder forms and discourages the model to suggest and participate in the shoot. You can also use your pre-planned poses when your model is dying in the set. By dying, I mean, losing the energy in the set.
As much as you can, don’t show the model a picture from your phone as reference posing. First, is you’ll look like an amateur, which takes away some of the respect and pride as a photographer. Second is your model’s movement will be mechanical because he or she will try to follow it to the detail, which throws away her take on the concept.
As you keep on shooting models, you’ll eventually reach the level where you can see the poses on the fly. Being able to develop with poses in an instant helps a lot when it comes to commercial shooting. In commercial shoot, time is limited and the client or art director might not agree with your planned poses, so you should find another posing in a flash.
The photographer and the model should establish a connection for them to work in harmony. It’s a two-way connection, so you must also take in her thoughts and share a moment of creativity. Keep on shooting, everyone!