Professional photographers use a number of tools and techniques to produce great photos. From cameras, to lenses, to lighting, to outfits and accessories, and post-shoot editing. But one thing that great models bring to the table is their ability to pose. Effective posing takes advantage of angles and positioning that make you look your best. From elongating parts of your body, to highlighting muscles, curves, and sensual positions, posing is one of the most important parts of a great photograph.
But don’t worry, we don’t expect you to be a professional model! After years of working with women (and men) of varying body types, we know how to help you pose and hold your body to get the best results. To help you prepare for your shoot, we’ve pulled together some tips for preparing to pose, as well as what to expect during your boudoir session.
Pre-Posing Prep: Stretch First!
Many of the poses you’ll be doing, and maintaining for periods of time, are positions you won’t be used to. You’ll use muscles and tendons that you may never have used before. That’s why we can’t stress enough that in order to be able to get into the poses we’ll be asking you to do, you’ll want to be stretching every day for at least a week leading up to your shoot.
Keep in mind that many poses use pointing toes so that your heel goes up and your toes go down towards the floor. Chances are that unless you’re doing a lot of yoga, you’re not used to doing that motion. Repeated stretching will get your body used to it so you don't get a muscle cramp or Charlie horse.
You’ll also want to stretch your legs, hamstrings, and particularly your back. Many poses call for arching your back, so you’ll want to be limber enough to hold that position.
Relax and Breath
Many of our clients aren’t used to posing, and feel nervous or tense, which can subconsciously show in your photos. That tension can cause wrinkles in your forehead, clenched jaws, stiff shoulders, awkward head positioning, clenched fists, and other stiff postures that become very obvious on-camera.
Our team will often encourage you to take a deep breath, and then let that breath out. This deep breathing will subconsciously help your body look more relaxed. We’ll also coach you to loosen your jaw, relax your shoulders, relax your face, and unclench those hands. But breathing, and being aware of your breathing, really helps to relax you overall.
Coaching During the Shoot
Speaking of coaching; many photographers will help you get into your poses with a very hands on approach. They’ll position your legs, hands, feet, etc., for you, which means that there is sometimes a lot of touching during your session.
We’re very aware that this can be extremely uncomfortable for some people, particularly in a setting where you feel very vulnerable. We get it, not everybody likes a lot of touching! We are also aware that sometimes if a client is asked if it’s okay to touch them, they’ll agree even if they don’t really like it, just because they’re trying to be helpful. We don’t ever want to put you in that position.
If you would like assistance getting into a pose, we can help you do that. However, typically we’ll just explain the pose to you verbally, and/or demonstrate it ourselves. Ultimately, we want you to feel comfortable with the process.
Wardrobe and Outfits
The nature of boudoir photography is that you’ll be wearing outfits that expose some skin. And that can be uncomfortable for many people. Because of this, you may sometimes have the urge to “cover up” during the shoot because you feel exposed.
For instance, we may want to do shots with a button up shirt. We’re not really covering up much with the shirt, since it's more of an accessory than an actual shirt. We may have you wear it off your shoulders, or unbuttoned. Even though you feel super exposed, that’s not how it will appear on camera because of the angles and position from which we’re taking the pictures.
Often we’ll show you these shots on the back of the camera so you can see ahead of time how it’s going to look.
During the shoot we’ll sometimes coach you to tilt your head back, or to the side. To close your eyes, or turn away from the camera. This can be uncomfortable because you’ll hear us shooting, but not be able to see us.
Rest assured, these “weird” angles aren’t capturing anything you don’t want. Interesting angles can make dynamic and beautiful images, and will highlight your best assets.
You know how some people talk with their hands? It’s because hands can be very expressive and can convey mood, emotion, and feelings. How you hold your hands in your shots is therefore pretty important because they can also convey tenseness, anxiousness, or nervousness. Or they can just be awkward if you don’t know where to put them!
Throughout your shoot we’ll coach you on how to hold your hands, how to relax them, and make them look natural. The best pose for your hands is often just hanging at your side, relaxed and not using any muscles. In some poses you may be grabbing sheets, pulling straps, etc., but typically you just want your hands to relax.
Lips and Face
Speaking of relaxed! Your face and lips also need to be relaxed. Often, the best way to relax your face is to relax your jaw. That will translate into more relaxed lips, and forehead. We’ll want you to breathe, drop your jaw, and just completely relax your muscles in your face.
Relaxing your facial muscles can be trickier than you think. We recommend that you practice this by looking in a mirror, breathing, and concentrating on relaxing your facial and jaw muscles. Once you get the hang of it, it will come more naturally for you during your shoot.
Elongating is Good!
Elongating your muscles (stretching your hands, pointing your legs, arching your back, etc.) helps stretch out skin and makes you look longer and leaner. That’s why you’ll always see professional models slightly bending over, holding their hands above their heads, and standing very straight.
Standing straight will do wonders for your pose. We’ll coach you to stand against a wall, reach over your head as high as possible. Even when you’re on the floor we’ll have you extend your legs and arms.
Where to Look?
Where you’re looking during your shoot is also very important. We’ll have you either look directly at the camera, tilt your head back, or drop your chin to look at the floor.
During your shoot you’ll notice that our studio has these great windows, and a lot of clients will find themselves looking out the windows. That’s okay if we’re shooting at the window and including the window in the picture, but we won’t want you staring blankly towards the windows in most situations.
Shoulders, Head, and Chin
We will typically instruct you to drop your shoulders for most poses. Raised shoulders can appear very tense on camera. Dropped shoulders will help with posture and your neckline as well. Even if we're doing poses on the floor, we’ll always want to see great posture. You will be given instructions for hand placement and leg placement to help with this.
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t! Like we said at the beginning, we don’t expect you to be a professional model. But we do have a lot of experience helping our clients look great, and that takes coaching during the shoot. Expect feedback on how you’re holding your hands, your head, your shoulders. We’ll also coach you to stretch your legs, your arms, arch your back and more. But most importantly, we’ll help you relax! Relaxing your face, your hands, your shoulders, and remembering to breathe will help make your pictures look great.