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Posing 101: Essentials

Lesson 9 of 10

Posing for Body Types

Lindsay Adler

Posing 101: Essentials

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

9. Posing for Body Types

Lesson Info

Posing for Body Types

We are going to talk about body types. And I will tell you, this doesn't mean don't watch this section, but if you just take all of these concepts I already had, and apply it to any person, it all still works. If there's a bigger part, push it away. If there's a smaller part, bring it forward. All those concepts still work, but I'm gonna kinda spell it out and I have found, often, my portrait clients will let me know, right away, their problem areas or what they're concerned with. They will tell me if they think their hips are too wide or their butt's too big. Or they will tell me if they don't like their flabby arms. They kinda, they talk about it, okay? They bring attention to it and they might not say it directly but, for example, I know when I get my picture taken, I tell people right away. I'm like, this is what to watch out for. So anyway, what I'm going to do is I am going to address some body types and I am going to talk a little bit about clothing. And I don't have specific ex...

amples besides just describing it to you guys, so if there is any confusion, please let me know, but things that help you. Alright, so let's start off here with my overall tips, flattering any body type. Alright so these are the top kinda four tips just to keep in mind for any body types. The very first one is emphasize the assets and reduce the flaws and this is where I tell you that it all depends on the person. For example, one of the types of body types we'll talk about is the inverted triangle. What that means, I gotta show this one, what that means is the person's really big up top and really small down here. It could mean that they have broad shoulders or a very large chest and they're very small. Now, by the standards that I would tell you, you know you're trying to even things out and add some curve, maybe you would reduce the appearance of the chest. Unless someone loves the size of their chest and wants to showcase that, and then you let them do that. You know what I mean? So some of the things I'm going to say would be try to attain more traditional forms of what we would say is good posing, but if somebody walks in and they say their best asset is their chest and they're really small, you don't wanna make it look really small. So just kind of keep these into mind. Let me get my overview. Emphasize the assets, reduce the flaws. That is based on, you usually can tell, by how somebody feels, having a conversation with them. We already talked about this, but these are for people that didn't see before. Closer to camera is larger, further from the camera is smaller. Use both posing and camera angles to achieve it. Flattering body types is a combination of posing and your camera angles. We'll talk about those. Number four is using clothing to complement. Very first and foremost, for reporter session, loose clothing is never good, ever. Because as you're trying to pose, loose clothing hides your posing. It's working directly against you. Because if you're trying to show negative space and they have a big loose flowy sleeve, there's no negative space. Or if they have big flowy clothing. So I find that a lot of heavier women in particular will wear clothes that are bigger 'cause they're trying to hide their form. They're basically just trying to hide behind their clothing. When you try to make them look more slender, the clothing makes them look like a blob and it's so hard to work with. Something that you might actually wanna do and something I always do is I keep the little clamps. The A clamps, I'll keep them in my bag, and if the clothing is not fitting properly, I will clamp it. So that I can see the form and that gives me something to pose with. I think one of the biggest, one of the biggest flaws that people have is not in how they look, it's in how they dress, how they represent their body types. My recommendation is, if you can, if you really want good images, and you wanna take it up a notch, don't leave clothing up to chance. Don't just say, bring whatever you want. Because what also what looks good on the street or what's in style right now does not mean it photographs well. It can be very quickly dated. In general, darker clothing and solid is better. Not always, but in general, darker solids are going to be better. Things that are more traditional cuts are better unless you are going for a cool, funky, fashion shoot, and then totally do that. I'm not saying being boring and I don't mean that everyone needs to match perfectly, but just keep that in mind. I would have a discussion. That's something that I always said, and I also would send a link, so I'm saying in the past tense. I have a wardrobe stylist now. The wardrobe stylist make sure the person, what she actually does, it's pretty cool. To any of my clients, they send out a piece of paper that is, it's called a style guide and the style sheet. The client has to fill out their body measurement. They actually have to measure their body. Not, "I think I wear a size eight," 'cause a lot of times the girl wears a size that actually says six or the other way. She has to actually fill that out, talk about body type, everything, and so when my stylist picks up the clothes, it fits. And it fits that body type. But what I used to do, as I used to direct people to a website to help them determine what body type they were, and actually pay attention to the type of clothing that is more flattering and encourage them to dress and wear those clothing. So we're going to talk about that a little bit. These are the main body types that we have. Inverted triangle means broad shoulders or large chest and small bottom. Again, this could be somebody, it doesn't have anything to do with size, like it could be someone who is larger but they're just extremely larger top and very small in the bottom. It's just kind of proportions. The column and the rectangle are just somebody who just doesn't particularly have shapes. They're just straight lines. I would say that Jen's kind of in that direction. She has a bit more curve than that, but she's pretty straight up and down. The apple would be full around top and full around bottom. It doesn't mean that the person is just round, which I always thought that that's saying. These aren't my names, these are like the traditional name. It means they're large top and bottom. Pear means large bottom. And then hourglass is like Beyonce. That's what I say. (everyone laughs) Everybody knows what she looks like. Let's talk about both posing and clothing and what you can do. The first part I'm going to talk about is clothing. You can honestly basically ignore all this. I will say it, but think, draw attention to opposite of what's big. That's what you do for clothing. Whatever is bigger, emphasize whatever is smaller. You're just kinda emphasize the opposite of it. For example, the person with the broad shoulders or large chest, we're gonna talk really about large chest, to be honest, in this example. What you don't wanna do is have a bright pink shirt with ruffles around the scoop neck. Because that is just saying, "Look here," and then everything else is smaller. What is usually better off is a solid colored shirt, darker, and then a flared skirt, because it evens out their proportions a little bit. They'll still look skinny, they'll still look proportioned, if that's what they were going for, because it'll taper and then flare back out. Most of what we're aiming here for posing, and this is saying, don't judge me, I'm just saying how posing usually is, it's more traditional forms of beauty, meaning we're usually going for the hourglass shape. That's what most of this posing is. Imagine, flared skirt gives you kind of that shape. Things you wanna avoid if somebody has, is larger at top, is to avoid spaghetti straps or really really low cut. 'Cause it's going to draw more attention, and that would be about it. That's what you wanna think of for clothing this person. What do I do opposite, draw attention here. So if we then think about posing the person and shooting the person, I want you guys to kind of think, if you don't mind, in your heads, what would you do. What would be kind of the opposite, so the whole, what's closer to the camera, that kind of thing. What I would do or some things to think about for posing, would be avoiding leaning too far forward towards the camera. If you're putting the weight back, you don't need to lean too far for it. My example, where I was leaning against the wall, the girl could lean kind of against the wall, or slightly forward instead of an intense lean. Because that's going to be a little different. But, if you don't mind, one of things that is beneficial is if I'm leaning against the wall, I don't wanna lean forward, but if I bring my knee up, kind of balanced it out. There's attention here and attention here. Some like, alright, what can I do to pose to even things out? Maybe for example, for somebody in this particular example, they're larger at top, I add motion, or pose on the bottom, right? So I'm balancing out, I'm giving more visual weight here. For someone like this, you don't want to pose with their hands up. Let's say you have a girl and she just have her posing straight like this and hands are up, all the action and movement is here. So might wanna have more in the hips or movement here as well to kinda balance out. All of this is up to interpretation for what you wanna do. If, for example, you are doing, a playboy shoot, like my friend Lou Freeman does, then you might just wanna do this, okay? (everyone laughing) Hey Lindsey, a quick question from the Internet. The Photog wanted to know, how does this stuff relate to guys and people who are sort of chiming in about children as well. For children, less so, for sure. For children, you're just fundamentally trying to get a decent pose and good expression. We'll talk about it, but body type doesn't really pay that much of a difference. The clothing could help. It all depends on how extreme and how important that is. Put it this way, it could apply, but I don't know if I would do clothing consultations specifically for a child, but if you wanted to pose or to shoot an entire family and advise them as a whole, what would work best for them, that's a good way to help out with that. For guys, it actually does apply, but it depends on how stylish a guy is, is if he's going to go out of his way to, for example, if he has really broad shoulders, to wear lighter colors in the bottom, darker color in the top to even it out. It also applies, just with women it's much more extreme. Hmm, great, thank you. Oh, and for the inverted triangle, you wanna shoot eye level. You don't wanna shoot too high up. That's something you might want to be careful of, especially if someone has a really large chest, you shoot to high up, that's all you see. Just about eye level, maybe a little lower. Okay, the pear. Somebody fuller on the bottom. Let's talk clothing. What do you do to go opposite? What would you for clothing? So what you would do is you would draw less attention here, more attention here. Which means, you'd probably wear darker, form fitting bottoms, and then maybe a brighter colored top or maybe a little bit lower cut to draw more attention. For pose, okay? (audience laughing) What about posing? Maybe hands up would be making sense in this situation, 'cause you've got a lot going down around down here, it'll draw a lot less attention if you have your hands up. Here's a couple things, let's take a look. For clothing the pear, brighter colors and details up top, basically. If we're gonna have detail on a shirt, maybe lace, even, 'cause your eyes are attracted to patterns and textures, so you would look there. Darker plainer color on the bottom, more form fitted. It's okay to have bare arms. In portraits for women, I usually stay away from too bare of arms 'cause most women don't really like their arm. I'm saying, older women don't really like their arms, so if they do have bare arms, I make sure they don't put weight on their arms and they're not closer to the camera. I don't know, I find a lot of people like a little bit of cap sleeve or just not a spaghetti strap. It doesn't usually work. If you're going for sexy, then go for a tube top and look sexy and try to go for it, but it's the in between that doesn't usually work. Pear, also avoid hands in pockets, the kind of hands in pocket shots make you look right here, 'cause that's where your eye is leading to. So you'd wanna avoid that. Let's go more to posing, again. We already talked about this, it made sense. Alright, you guys already know. Leaning chest forward, hips back, trying hands higher up on the body, and also considers shooting from a slightly higher angle. If the pose is not kicking hips back, then if you can get a little bit higher angle, that's actually gonna be better for that person. Okay, so next one. Column and rectangle, basically people that just have minimum shape, just straight up and down. What we wanna do is try to introduce shape. For clothing, introducing shape with clothing. Really, if you fake a waist, that's all you need. You need something just to cinch at the middle, have a dress with something like this works great, in the middle, a belt, something like that. You'll often see, like you've seen really skinny girls that have a little belt in the middle, 'cause they're just trying to give some kind of visual weight in the middle to make it look like they have shape. Then, when they kick a hip out to the side, and they have that cinch, now it looks like they have shape. For both of these people, shirts with belts or waist-defining elements. Patterns are okay with these people. I just don't, I don't usually like to photograph patterns in general, but non-solid is actually okay in this example. Then fabric, if you have fabric that can move or have shape, you might not have curve, but at least you can have a flowy dress shape. You'll see that with a lot of pre-teen girls, that have dresses and movement. That adds movement to the photo, 'cause you don't really wanna add shape to a pre-teen girls, but they add movements so it's more interesting. For posing, you're faking a curve. Here's a couple tips for this person. Alright, so in one instance, there's somebody that doesn't have shape, yeah, you can do the leg back, that helps, you can also just do hip off really, really far to one side. You can really emphasize that. But another one is we wanna fake the waist, so you can have a cinch. Instead of having somebody pose with their hands on their hips, you'd have them pose with their hands on their waist, 'cause you can fake a waist. Your hands become that cinch. My recommendation now, is if you look, if I have my hands here, you see this? It actually makes me look wider, 'cause it looked like I'm struggling to wrap around myself. If I rotate my hands forward a little, it makes it look like, wow, she wraps her hands all the way around her waist, she's so skinny. I would do something like that. Kinda lean back, and you're faking a waist. I'm gonna use this technique for another body type as well. If you're trying to work some curve with someone who doesn't have one, that's a really good one. Also consider uneven hands. So if I want a girl with no shape to have shape, let's say that I have this arm up, and now I kick this up, put this arm on the hip, now it's kinda looking like, ooh, this arm's higher, there's more hip here, and this is lower, there's more curve, you're faking it by where you're putting your hands. Just couple of tips for those people. Okay. The apple. Large on top, large on the bottom. For clothing. These people tend to wear loose clothing when they absolutely should not. Definitely should wear form fitting clothing so that is a big one. Also, they'll have, they will have a waist, but the more waist you can introduce, the more curvy they'll look, so if it can be cinched, or if it's kinda gathered in the middle like this in the clothing, that will help, but also avoid high necklines, like a really high neckline, 'cause what happens is if you have a high neckline, it makes everything looks rounder. First is if you have a lower neckline, it kinda breaks up that shape, so it's not just round, it's broken up. If you can do that, that helps. Also feel free for all this information, you can send it to your client and just say whatever body type you feel you are, here's some tips. People that have actual studios that are geared towards clothing, they'll have a wide range of clothing available that they'll pull from. I know in my, when I had my portraits studio, I had every size regular black shirt available for men and women. I got them for like, I don't know, probably Walmart, but if someone showed up with a loud, awful colored shirt with words on it, then I could switch them out, and it'll be much more flattering. Or for woman which is wearing really flowy clothing and she shouldn't be, I could grab that. Just a plain black flattering shirt. It usually worked out pretty well. For posing, so a couple things for the apple. This is another example where you'd try to put the hands on the waist if you can, it can make the person look a little narrower than they actually are by faking with the hands in the front. Somebody that I've seen, if anybody wants to watch, I know that Sue Bryce has done a couple tutorials where she talks about posing curvy girls, and that's something that you'll see her do all the time. It's kind of faking that as well. So yeah, definitely check hers out. I think it was, I actually think she's done a couple times. Notice, I said, turn knee in to introduce curve. Did you see how I did that? I kept doing that? The reason I'm saying turn the knee in is because there might be large and large, and this at least gives another elements to curve this way versus just curved out. It's kind of curved to the side. One other thing you might consider is if you are sitting the person on a chaise, when they're straight up and down, that's what gives you round look, and you wanna try to break that up and give it more curve. Let's say that there's a chaise couch. You can have them lean. It's taking things off center, so you're not looking at circular body type. Instead, you're looking at the line of their body, even if it's not a slender line, it's still a line. We have a couch over there and that would be something that I might do for an apple body type to have them lean out on one arm of the couch and extend the leg, and then your eye would follow that curve, even if it's not following this curve. For hourglass, wear fitted clothing. Kind of the, kind of the easy one. Wear fitted clothing. I still don't really like patterns, but they can get away with them. Distribute the weight, don't stand even on flat foot, and curve like that, this is, that's the easy body type that already kind of looks like what you wanted to look like. Alright, so let's talk about photographing and shooting flaws, and I would love questions on this. Any, 'cause this is the thing I'd love to just answer people's questions. I would have had to do a, literally had to do a lot of casting if we brought in every flaw, but I'm happy to answer these. I'm gonna talk about a couple key ones. Did you have a question off the bat? (mumbles) when you were just like showing it on just to define waist for apple body and all those kind of type, I love to shoot curvy women. The problem that I face when soothing, when they're just like, they try to grab themselves here, it doesn't really work, because larger chest, everything is going further, when you're just trying to bring in, they just feel more awkward, and it's kind of just, you have to kind of position their half of their body. I try to point their thumbs out, or how to do that? So yeah, no totally. That's completely true. This, if anyone try this at home, this doesn't feel normal. Especially if you're wider, it looks like you're just putting your hands on your stomach which makes it, like it feels like maybe putting your hands on your stomach. What I do is I usually do like these kind of hands, put in on the side, and then just kind of shift it in, and I try to pop out the hip. That's really what do. I go, no, trust me, it looks great. Oh, I love that. That's usually what I try to do, does it work? Another thing is after they does a pose process, I had a problem with cropping it. How do you crop? Because I had a model that just like, her thumbs, you can see that there is more of her there but the thumb is in the middle of her, it felt kind of awkward, it looked good from my perspective, it gave her all like a beautiful shape, but how to crop it? It depends on, okay, so you can, in that case, if you need to crop in as well, you can crop into the elbows, just don't crop the tips of it. I would maybe even crop like a little tighter than you normally would in that case, because then you can't quite see everything, buy you can see the hands. I'd crop tighter than you might be doing instinctually. I will say, for somebody that's really plus size, it won't work, 'cause it would be, they hands would be here. Yeah, that was just like, I was stretching that point. If they're really plus size and it doesn't work, it's like in between. Thank you so much. Absolutely. Let's start with, let's start with Luna Star who wants to know about pregnant women with smaller chests. So it's kind of an extreme of the pear shape, basically. That's okay, 'cause they're pregnant, in maternity, so you don't need to crack the, for any way. It doesn't particularly, no matter what you're doing, they're still going to have their stomach pronounced, so if you want to and need to, lean them forward a bit. It's still going to be there, so my suggestion would be, if you want them to look a little heavier up top or a little fuller up top, turn to the side, because now you see their stomach, and do the lean, the stomach isn't going away, and then you can shoot from a little bit higher angle and that's going, it's all those things we're talking about. A little bit higher angle makes the chest look closer. To the side, make sure you can still see their belly. And I'm assuming that you want to show that they're pregnant, that was my assumption. Yeah, just the normal stuff. Cool, and from Eichsheissen Image, how about the men with the beer bellies? Because right, they have, they're really thin up top, and their legs are really thin, but they have that basketball. I have people in mind. And I have photographs, that's for sure. Some of that's clothing, for sure. I find that if you can have a suit jacket or something over, so that their combination full up top and the jacket will kind of cover that. So it's less of a problem. There's not too much you can do for posing, really. I would have them lean their shoulders a little bit more, and if they had a pocket, put it a little bit more aggressively towards the camera, it will hide a little bit. None of the hips talking, that's girls. Guys are a little bit of a lean. Maybe a little bit of the head away. The furious ones. (audience laughing) I like it. We have Lupo Photo. How about what's proper angle to shoot from for someone with a larger nose? That's coming up. Perfect. Just do it. Okay, so I'll give you more about bodily flaws than facial ones. At this one, I wouldn't know. I'm not saying that there's one particular form of beauty. I just have to make this comment. 'Cause I'm super snotty. I'm just gonna say it. Everyone I hope still love me. I photograph really, really, really tall, incredibly skinny women, and like, I don't think that that's the standard of beauty. A lot of them are aliens and it's awesome 'cause I get to photograph surreally tall, skinny women. But not by any means do I think everyone should look like that. If you notice, we're actually trying to get everyone curved and those women have no curves. When we say flaws, we're helping people look like what they want to look like, and so if they don't wanna look like that, no problem. But this is traditionally what people are aiming for. Perfect. And actually, perfectly right along those lines. Purple Thistle Images says so shoot from below for a short girl, but what do you do for a very tall girl? I am six foot two, and die in pictures because I always look like an Amazon. Exactly like you said. Rocket, six foot two is awesome. That's so cool. Well it's fun, this is side note, but I photograph professional women's athlete, and some of them are six foot three, and then we photograph them. It is actually better to photograph women in heels in general, 'cause they elongate more and it tightens everything, and so everything firms up, and they by instinct have better posture because they have to be balanced. She's six three and then three inch heels. Now imagine, I photograph her the first time in an eight and half foot tall room. Photoshop. No, I'm serious, I add Photoshop in on top of that. The answer for that really is apple boxes or small sub-stools. You don't need to be high up on it. Just even like chest or eye level would be great for that person, for sure. So basically raise the height of the camera. Raise the height of the camera. For this person, if we're just saying if she's in a group, we're actually going to talk about what to do to make yourself look shorter or to be more even in height without slouching or when people look really awkward 'cause they're like, you see that all the time, but there are couple really good ways to actually make yourself look a little shorter. Cool, and people wanting to know, do you work with hair and makeup artist, especially hair? Yeah. Who's in big hair. I don't do, for me, no it's all natural. (everyone laughing) In other words, this is all it does. But I don't do any shoots anymore with that don't have hair and makeup ever. But that's good, 'cause that's where I was working too, and so people look so much better sometimes with hair and makeup. And sometimes I don't even need to do anything on the photo side, they just look that much better. So yeah, always hair and makeup.

Class Description

Posing doesn’t have to be complicated. In Posing 101: The Essentials, fashion photographer and CreativeLive instructor Lindsay Adler gives you an introduction to essential posing techniques you need to start building the posing repertoire every photographer needs.

In this class, Lindsay will lay a foundation of posing basics to get you started on mastering posing. You’ll learn tips on interacting with your subject and how to coach expressions. Lindsay will show you how your lens and camera angle work with different poses. Additionally, she covers best practices for posing each body part, what to look for in posture and how to pose and shoot through flaws.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or have some posing experience under your belt, this course will build a solid foundation that will allow you to expand your posing knowledge and start getting creative.

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Stephen Lee

Amazing course, Lindsay presents a ton of great content in a relatively short amount of time. She's got a great lively personality and keeps it fun and interesting. Great job fielding all kinds of questions on the spot - she really knows her stuff!

Aaron Russell

Lindsay is amazing - so much good info in this course! She is knowledgable and inspiring, and a great teacher. However, the two moderator (?) guys who keep interrupting her to repeat her points are so annoying and add absolutely no value. She handles them very graciously as they mansplain everything she says back to her with creepy smiles and fake cheer. They have very Caesar Flickerman from the Hunger Games vibes. I would be so much more excited about Creative Live if they weren't there distracting the great presenters. Anyway, can't wait to watch more of Lindsay's stuff!


First off, I absolutely love the way Lindsay teaches. She shares a LOT of useful information and brings it in a light and cheerful way. There are plenty of examples and photos along with her descriptions. It's a pleasure to watch! This was my first course on posing and I learned a lot. Would definitely recommend this course!