Steven Brokaw Photography

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New Models Encounters a New Photographer

In the model, fashion, beauty, editorial photography genre, a perfect situation is a model skilled in posing, expressions and knowledgeable of her body working with a skilled photographer who knows his / her stuff.   This match has the potential to created amazing images.

Hit the brakes …. screeeeech, but “Steve, what happens if the model is starting out and not experienced and the photographer hasn’t developed skills directing / posing a model or has no interest in directing”?  More than likely the images won’t be as good as you hoped.

I’ve said this previously as a joke, but it’s true.  The model doesn’t show the photographer how to use his / her camera & therefore, the photographer shouldn’t have to show the model how to pose.  Direction, OK, moodboard, sure, but the model needs to come to a shoot prepared.  The exception to this is during a test where it’s a practice session.

So what can an inexperienced model do if they are not getting direction? Here are some ideas / tips I’ve gained working with both super experienced and super new models.  Again, as a caveat, I don’t want to come off sounding like an all-that dick.  These are just from my experience.

  • Be careful how you lean back.  Hard angles are good, but be alert to how you are standing relative to the camera.  Sometimes you will look as if falling backwards when that’s not your intent.  If you lean back make sure you move one leg back so as you are centered or turn your body so it’s fully profile to the camera.
  • Don’t point your elbows at the camera. 
  • Change your facial expressions.  You can change a look simply by changing your expression even if you hold a pose.  Smile, frown, pout, scream (yes, I’m not kidding), part your lips, raise an eyebrow, smirk, smirk harder, etc.  You get the idea.
  • Move your head around.  Same as above.  You can keep the same expression but change the look by simply changing the location of your head / face relative to the camera.  Straight on, chin down, chin up, full profile, 45 degrees from center, bend your head to the side.
  • If you have medium / long hair…. use it.  Hands in your hair, flip it (don’t do it so it looks clique), drop it into your eyes, hold it back, put it over your ears, grab it, twirl it, pull it across your eyes, muss it, etc.  Again, you get the idea.
  • Don’t be afraid to move.  I mean MOVE.  Hop in place, bend over at angles, move side to side, move your arms, stride into a scene, raise your knees, dance, run in place, cross your arms, cross your legs, up on your toes, down on the floor, etc.  Just move, and change the speed of moving.  One note, your moves and transitions should be smooth versus erratic.
  • Play with your clothing.  Pull on it, untuck a shirt, grab your collar, cross your jacket, hike down your jean suggestively, button up your shirt, play with a scarf, etc.  Make the clothing become part of your posing,
  • Don’t always look at the camera or the photographer,
  • Is there a prop handy? Use it.  I’m talking about a chair, apple box, accessory, etc. 
  • Speaking of chairs, don’t just sit there, slump over, slide down, turn it around, lean on 2 legs (careful), side saddle that chair, open your legs, bring a leg up onto the chair.  Get that chair or stool involved.
  • It’ time to bring your hands up to your face and mouth.  I’m NOT talking about the pouty pulling your lip down thing, but get your hands involved.  Pinch your lips, hands over your eyes, open your hand to the camera with the palm of your hand against your mouth, bite down on a finger, fake punch yourself… I know, I know it’s silly and not natural, but that’s what creates unique photos.
  • Have we talked about your eyes yet?  Nope, OK then stare at me, smile with your eyes, close them, look off to the side, give me a 1000-mile stare, give me angry.  Most photographers center focus on your eyes, so it’ a good place to start.

OK, that’s a few tips.  At minimum you need 6-10 practiced poses you can work off of.    Give it a go, and you’ll be a hit.

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