Have you ever?

Have you ever dreamed of photographing beautiful models in exotic locations surrounded by glamorous assistants drinking ice cold drinks in a balmy paradise? I think every beginning photographer fantasises about this but the reality is that many are called but few are chosen to live this very intoxicating lifestyle.

The photographers that have become icons across the fashion world in the past, such as Helmut Newtown, Richard Avedon, Justin de Villeneuve, David Bailey and Patrick Demarchelier have had a great deal more than just what is called ‘a good eye’. The ability of these photographers to ‘pose’ a model was legendary.

When the subject of the photograph is also the major compositional component, then it is solely the photographer’s responsibility to direct that subject to create a compelling image. The art of directing and capturing a nuanced expression or movement is often just a matter of being clear and articulate. This is often much harder than it appears.

Hands up, who has ever tried to tell a bored and camera shy boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse or family member how to pose for a photo? I started out this way and most of my sessions were a complete disaster. There are some very simple guidelines that any photographer can benefit from knowing when it comes to working with models, professional or otherwise.

One of the most important aspects of getting an interesting composition from a single model is to concentrate on creating angles in the poses. This can be as simple as a girl standing with one hand on her hip and one behind her head. The angles that her arms create add appeal to the image, which is a far more dynamic pose than one where her arms merely hang limply at the side. This also gives a classic ‘S’ shape to the body that can never fail to be a more interesting.

Simply asking the model to turn one toe towards the other and then bend that knee by bringing the heel up also makes the photograph more engaging than if the model just stands straight legged, staring into the camera.

Of course directing a model to move in certain ways will contribute to a much more vibrant pose and the movement itself can relax a model a great deal. If your model really is very nervous then a good way to get them to build more confidence is to start them posing while sitting on the ground. This gives the model something to, literally, hold on to and most models find a sitting position less confronting.

From a sitting position, to squatting, to standing and moving in a kind of a square dance movement will give the model something to think about and lessen their self-consciousness. Posing the model in these ways instantly creates more angles naturally.

Of course the major thing that a photographer must remember is that posing a model should be fun. Unless you are the next David Bailey losing your temper with a shy model will never help you get good results. After all ‘fashion’ is definitely not to be taken seriously!

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