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o you want to be a fashion model, or at least know how to pose like one? Or maybe you’re a photographer that wants to know a bit more about posing so that you can give your model direction and get more amazing and useable images out of your photo shoots? Well, you’re definitely in the right place. My name is Denise Salceda, and I know that when I started modeling a few years ago, I wanted to learn as much as possible about how to be a great model and felt frustrated when I did research online that resulted in finding limited and outdated resources on posing that were slightly beneficial, if they were helpful at all. You’d probably be surprised to learn that there are models that have succeeded in signing with reputable agencies and yet are stiff and virtually clueless when it comes to moving* in front of a camera. Just like anything else, knowing how to model is a skill that has to be learned. Just looking pretty and having the right measurements isn’t going to cut it. Essentially, my goal is to give you a fast track to fulfilling your potential as a model. I don’t want you to have to go through what I went through—jumping into my first few photo shoots as an amateur model without a clue as to what I was doing, or knowing what to expect. This guide is going to focus mainly on the basic do’s and don’ts of model posing, along with a quick overview of facial expressions, since they are part of your pose too. Keep in mind that I’ll be talking specifially about fashion modeling (like the kind you see in Vogue & Harpers Baazar), not catalog or glamour modeling (some of the basic tenants will still apply though). I look forward to helping you out with your posing and I’m sure this guide will give you that extra boost of confidence going into your next (or first!) photo shoot knowing that you’ll be ready to get in front of the camera and work it! And without further adieu, let’s get started.

* Note I said “moving” here and not “posing.” The best models are ones that know how to move in front of a camera, not just go from pose to pose. Don’t worry, we’ll cover more about that on the next page.

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Introduction to Posing The word “pose” is a bit misleading when it comes to describing what a model does front of a camera. As I mentioned previously, a good model knows how to move during a photo shoot. In reality, the poses come in between the moving, and the poses are what the photographer captures when the shutter clicks. So what does moving in front of a camera look like? Imagine a pose that is never completely static. The model is always morphing from one pose to the next—adjusting the angle of her face, her shoulders, her legs; changing her facial expression, moving her hair. Depending on the mood of the shoot, the style of movement will be different—ranging from mellow, to sexy, to energetic. One thing is always the same though; the model never fully stops moving. To truly move without inhibition or feeling self-conscious at a photo shoot, it’s important to be comfortable with the camera; and not only that, but also to be comfortable with yourself and familiar with how you look through the lens. To accomplish this, practice moving and posing in front of a mirror. Do you have a side that is more flattering than the other? Have that side face the camera more than the other. Know your best features. Are they your piercing eyes? Your shapely lips? Your defined cheekbones? Your delicate collarbones? Your silky hair? Your narrow waist? Your long legs? Play those up. Know your angles. Does your face look more flattering when it’s tilted slightly up or slightly down? Practice moving your shoulders, your hips, your legs. Play with hand positioning. It ultimately comes down to having confidence and leaving your insecurities at the door. Don’t worry about making mistakes or looking a bit goofy at a shoot, because you may discover an amazing pose along the way. Also know that the photographer will normally take a lot of shots—from 100 to 500 (or even more)—so you have many opportunities to try different things and find something that works. All the shots where you blinked, got your hair stuck in your lipgloss, were talking, or made a less than flattering face or pose will be tossed into the virtual trashbin.

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Once you know your best features, your angles, and are ready to start moving and posing, what else can you do to prepare before actually stepping foot in front of the camera? Look through magazines and tear out pages with your favorite poses. Keep these in a folder or put them up on your bedroom wall as a daily visual reminder. Do you love Pinterest? Create a board for pose inspiration and pin to your heart’s content. Practice these poses in front of the mirror until you have them down pat. Don’t forget about facial expressions! Although we’re only going to touch briefly on this topic in the pose guide, facial expressions are extremely important and are usually what a lot of models struggle with. You don’t want to have the same exact face in all your photos. It’s important to show that you can express a range of emotions from anger and melancholy, to passion, bliss, happiness, surprise, and ecstasy. In a sense, to be a good model, you have to be a good actor. You have to portray a character— and be convincing at that. Are you a fierce, strong woman that doesn’t care about what anyone thinks of her? Are you a sassy man-eating seductress? Are you a delicate princess lost in an unforgiving forest? These all require different attitudes and facial expressions. Being able to emote well will take a lot of practice but it will set you apart from other models whose faces seem to remain frozen and emotionless. Music can be extremely helpful when it comes to getting into the mood for a shoot. Have playlists with your favorite songs of different genres: one of upbeat artists like David Guetta, Kaskade, or Deadmaus, and another with more mellow songs from artists like Bon Iver, Adele, or Mumford & Sons. It’s really up to you and what inspires you to move and emote. One last thing before we move on to the actual do’s and don’tsof posing. Make sure your poses are relevant to the environment you’re shooting in. If you’re in a studio on a plain black or white backdrop, almost anything is fair game. However, if you are shooting on location, angular, high-fashion poses will probably seem out of place in, say, the middle of the forest. It’s up to your discretion (and whoever else is in charge of the creative direction of the shoot). It’s also dependent on the styling (wardrobe, accessories), but that is a whole other topic of discussion.

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Posing Do’s & Don’ts Visual representations are usually the most effective way of explaining a point, so to illustrate the do’s and don’ts of modeling, I’d like to present photos of models in awesome poses versus photos of models in not-so-flattering poses and then explain why one works, while the other doesn’t. Although a lot of variables come into play when it comes to the overall quality of an image like the styling, the skill level of the photographer, and post-production (editing and retouching), the main focus here will purely be on the model’s posing. Before we jump into the photos, here are a few general do’s and don’ts of posing and facial expressions to get the ball rolling:

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Photo Credit: Nikola Borissov

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Photo Credit: Vejitatoja

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Photo Credit: Vejitatoja

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Photo Credit: Sebastian Cviq

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Photo Credit: Nikola Borissov

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Photo Credit: Robin Pika

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Photo Credit: Geoffrey Jones

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Photo Credit: Daria Zaytseva

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Do’s & Don’ts Recap Ultimately, a good pose is well balanced and natural-looking with some sort of emotion or feeling to it—whether it’s fierce, passionate, joyful, excited, relaxed, peaceful, or contemplative. Remember: a pose should never look like you’re trying too hard. Keep your body long and lean, don’t squish your arms to your sides (that makes them look wider than they actually are), keep your hands relaxed, abs tight, and don’t forget about facial expressions. I can’t stress enough the importance of practicing your posing in front of a camera and looking through fashion magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar to pick up on how the pros pose and emote. Don’t be afraid to even record yourself posing and practicing your facial expressions on your computer’s webcam. You’ll be able to play it back and see what your good angles are, if a certain emotion you thought you were portraying actually came across on camera or if you have to practice exaggerating it a bit more, etc. It can be really helpful. Once you learn from it, you can either keep it for reference to see your improvement over time, or even just delete it. Here are a few more good poses to learn and get inspiration from before we move on to a quick overview of facial expressions. Enjoy!

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Facial Expressions Your facial expression can make or break a pose. If you’re nervous or tense, it will show in the photos. That’s why it’s so important to be relaxed and confident. Otherwise, instead of looking happy, sexy, fierce, or mysterious in your photos, you’ll end up looking scared and anxious like a poor little deer in the headlights. Again as always is the case, practice makes permanent, and perfect practice makes perfect. The mirror is your friend. Here are a few basic things to focus on to make sure you come out picture perfect on top of being pose perfect:

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Conclusion Put on your favorite music and practice moving and flowing between your poses and facial expressions every day or as often as you can and you’ll lay a good foundation for getting more amazing images out of your photo shoots. Just like any other skill, posing is something that has to be learned and no matter how good you think you are or how much you think you know, you can always learn something new and get even better than you thought possible. Visit my website at www.denisesalceda.com to find more useful insider information about modeling and how to become a model. Now go out there and rock your next photo shoot!

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Guia de Poses - Model poses guide  
Guia de Poses - Model poses guide  
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