Dear (new’ish) Model,
My name is Other Model. I have spent the last couple of years finding out a few things that I wish I’d known from the start. Please don’t think I’m patronizing as I mean this only in goodwill. Not all of my points will be valid for you as posing varies in each genre. Take what you can use here and just ignore the rest. If only one suggestion helps your future career then my time has been well spent here.
– Rule one, the mirror is your BFF. Stand in front of the mirror, perfect your poses and learn the various shapes and angles of your body. The mirror is a perfect tool to show you what the camera lens sees; try to see yourself through the photographers lens. For example, if your foot is closest to the lens, it is worth remembering that your foot is going to be the largest thing in the picture (same with hands, shoulders, legs, etc).
– Learn to create a separation between your limbs and your body (keep your elbows away from your waist). Not only will this prevent the spreading out of fat tissue (in the arms, legs and waist) it also servers as an illusion for a slimmer appearance. This is a basic cheat that makes a big difference.
– Have a basic understanding of light. For example, if you raise an arm toward the light, it could be a whole F-stop brighter in camera than on your face (since it is the object closest to the light source). Additionally, any light which is blocked (by arms, hands, legs, etc.) will cast a shadow (across your face, etc.). You can counteract shadows by simply moving your arms or body into different pose positions. Paying attention to how the light is directed (or reflected) is invaluable during a photo shoot.
– If the light has been metered to an exact spot, try to stay on that spot. Pay attention to any pose that moves you away from the metered light spot and then re-position yourself back to the metered light spot (this requires constant attention by the model; something all professional models are well aware of).
– Elongate your neck to simulate height and poise. Possibly one of the hardest things to remember because it genuinely feels unnatural. Stand in front of the mirror and look at yourself… stand normally, then roll your shoulders back allowing your face to come forward… notice the difference in the width of your neck? This is an instant slimming trick.
– Go one step further by popping your jaw towards the camera; this will give you a strong jaw line (by creating a slight shadow).
– If the photographer is at a 12 o’clock angle, then stand at a 1:30 angle rather than a 3 o’clock; you will lose inches from your overall width. Always remember the shadow rule: hide what you don’t want seen in the shadows. Weight Watchers is great, but tactical posing is phenomenal!
– If you want to appear slimmer you can create a ‘false waist’ by simply positioning yourself to the camera with your hands on your hips, while thrusting one hip out and keeping your elbows away from your waist. Basically, use the space between your arms and waist to create a hole where the light comes through (when done correctly, the light hole forms a triangle shape).
– If you’re like most people who don’t have natural curves, then fake them! And I don’t mean plastic surgery. Learn how to push your hip out! It’s not something everyone can do but it’s a huge advantage if you practice and learn how to do it. Also, allowing your knees to slightly cross over (when in a standing position) will emphasize a great ’S’ figure.
– Keep your hands relaxed, loose and fluid. The term ‘ballet hands’ is often thrown around… but if you’re not a trained ballerina then keep your hands and fingers relaxed and slightly curved. Don’t clump your fingers together and avoid showing the palms of your hands. Why? Because the palms of your hands are big and ugly… while the sides of your hands are small and dainty.
– Play with whatever is available. If you are wearing a flowing dress, play with it by tossing it into the air or working the movement at the bottom. Remember, if you are wearing trousers then your legs don’t need to be so clamped together.
– You should have knowledge of what you are wearing and why. If you have been hired to sell a specific product, make sure you are pulling poses that are commercially complimentary and not hiding the product.
– Please be honest about your size and measurements. Nobody minds how short, or tall, or big, or slim you are… but you absolutely have to be honesty in this regard (this should be obvious). You may be sent home (uncompensated) if you have exaggerated the truth and wasted time by not fitting the exact casting criteria. Save yourself the embarrassment of being called out (and trust me… being called out happens).
– Own a ‘modeling kit’ and take it on all shoots. These are the things you will need, but they might not be mentioned in pre-shoot communications. They are: studio or outdoor shoes, nude/black underwear, face wipes, moisturizer/oil for your legs, a plain vest top, safety pins/clamps, a straw for drinks (as not to ruin your lipstick), your own water and a snack to keep you from starving (especially on location shoots). Bring a spare shaving razor for lingerie shoots or trimming face (for guys). Bring hairspray, a pop up lipstick, hair grips, brush and eyelash glue (in case the MUA can’t stay). If you have been booked for a specific job such as bridal, it is also well received if you bring appropriate accessories i.e. a pretend plastic wedding ring, etc. Having said that, be sure to have a modeling kit with you.
– Finally… and most importantly… be fun! Be easy going and willing to go that extra mile. If you are genuinely a nice person, you are 100% more likely to be re-booked for other shoots. Remember, you are part of a team so pull your weight; nobody likes high maintenance divas.
I hope this memo has been of some use to you and that you can take something from it. As I said, not all of this will work for you, it’s just tricks I wish I’d known when I began modeling.
Other Model, XXX