Steven Brokaw Photography

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Are You A Model - Better Know How To Pose

My studio based photography is only possible because I work with skilled operators behind and in-front of the camera.  This is especially important if it's a fashion shoot, and even a personal project.  Obviously, one of the most important creatives in the photoshoot is the model.  

Many people think the most important attribute of successful model are looks and body-type / dimensions.  Yes, those are important, but it's expected a model has those just to get into the door.  What's often more important is the ability to POSE & EMOTE.  

Unless you are brand new it's expected that you have solid posing skills and can give the photographer or creative director the look they need.  

I've said this before, I can direct you, but I shouldn't have to.  I've talked to several photographers that simply won't direct a model.  They figure that's the model's job.  It's kind of like asking the model to tell the photographer how to operate his or her camera.  Even an inexperienced photographer is expected to bring the basic skills to a shoot.   This is ESPECIALLY true if you are getting paid.  A model should NEVER expect to be paid unless he or she has solid posing skills.

And by posing I'm not simply talking about hands on hip with a smile on your face.  I'm talking about

  • Knowing how your posing interacts with different types and location of lights.  As an example if the key light is 45 degrees to the right of the model and the photographer wants your face fully lit, don't put your right arm in-front of your face.  You'll cast a shadow across your face.
  • Know how to emote.  Lots of people know how to pout or smile, but you need to have a range of expressions based on the mood board.  Open mouth, closed mouth, smirk, smile, broad smile, passion, need to be able to give it all to a photographer.
  • Play with & move your hair.  Hold it, put your fingers through your hair, cover an eye, pull it straight out, flip it, mess it up.  You've got it, use it.
  •  Move all of your body, not just one part.  Your head, your shoulders, your arms, your chest, your waist, your legs.  They should all be moving.
  • Understand if a photographer wants you to hold poses or move constantly.
  • Often a photographer has metered his lights to a specific spot or area (especially in studio ).  Learn to move and pose within that area.  This includes moving up and down.
  • Yes, move up and down.  Bend over, lean forward, sit down, etc., etc.
  • Kick you legs out, stride, hop (watch out with heals), spread your legs, cross your legs, bend your knees, etc.

You get the idea.  There are tons of learning aids to practice your skills.  Some are:

  1. Online videos.
  2. Look at photos in a fashion magazine - practice the poses in-front of a mirror.
  3. Do a cellphone video of yourself posing.  Study it.
  4. Hire or ask a photographer to photograph you practicing.  Bring pictures, try new things, look at the images and try it again.
  5. Get a mentor / muse to work with.  Use a friend, you DON'T need to pay for a posing coach.
  6. Ask a photographer you trust to allow you to come in near the end of a shoot and practice for 30 minutes or so.  For someone like me, that's easy because I'm already in the studio so everything is set up (just don't expect to get process images back....that's not the purpose)
  7. Visit a model shoot and watch an experienced model work.  This is also pretty easy to arrange.

Bottomline, if you expect to be a skilled model you need to have the looks, have the body type required for the shoot, have a personality, have business skills AND the ability to pose.



Being A Model Can Be Awesome

Pattern Magazine Cover Photo & Editorial Photoshoot with Tony Kanaan