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Posing 101: Essentials

Lesson 7 of 10

Posing Parts: Men, Feet, Elbows and Nose

Lindsay Adler

Posing 101: Essentials

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

7. Posing Parts: Men, Feet, Elbows and Nose

Lesson Info

Posing Parts: Men, Feet, Elbows and Nose

For men. Alright so I'm also, okay I remember being really offended. I know right? In fashion you can get away with more by the way. But I remember being really offended when I was like 16, I went to a photo class. And the guy kept talking about dominant and submissive poses And that made me, I hate that. Cause he was saying the woman in the submissive pose and I'm like (restrained grunting noise). Okay no, I don't like that wording so I said that's not gonna happen, okay. So I don't use that. But and so here's an example too, here you don't really want femininely posed hands for a guy. Usually. So it is usually going to be more of, kind of in the fist area or I've seen some good ones where guys, the kind of punching look. Where they've got a kind of this going on or hand off to the side or arms crossed. But their hands aren't like soft, the arms are crossed still making fists. But I don't mean clenched, just hands together. I don't always follow all these guidelines exactly but I defi...

nitely think it helps. So I don't really care for any of these. I don't care for the first two because they're too feminine for me and I don't care for the last one cause it's like, awkward. I will say that what I do is, okay sometimes the hand posing shots, some people just don't like them. Some guys think they're corny. And what I'll do is I just, I read their body language and so when I have them pose if they clearly think it's stupid, I'm like oh you know what, I've got this like GQ hand pose give the, I'll try one and then move on. Because some people just don't like them but I always still try to get one. Cause it can look really cool. So you know, here's a couple other versions for the guy. I would say this would be kind of my preferable, like a little bit off to the side cause when you have it in the center of the face it's too symmetrical, it's too heavy. Like when you're forcing symmetry on something, it's visually heavy. So off to the side actually gives you a little bit more of a dynamic pose than right in the front. Plus it looks like he's propping up their chin versus like, you know they're like winking at you. Like that kinda look. By the way, true story, this guy was winking the whole shoot at my assistant that I had there. Cause he could tell that she had a crush on him. Not, not Iris. Not Iris over here, she was like this little girl and like he could tell so he kept winking at her and she was dying, it was so funny. It was awesome. So back to my number number number number one tip for guys is to keep their hands occupied. If a guy has clothing that lends itself to be interacted with, do that. So if they have a jacket on, pose with the jacket. If they have cuffs, fix the cuffs. If they have a jacket to throw over the shoulder, throw it over the shoulder. Do something with their hands in some way. For guys, hands in the pockets work, something, a prop. Which is why often for guys if I'm doing portraits, I try to get them to bring some kind of props, like something significant to them. If it's they play the guitar, if they are an athlete, because then it gives their hands something to do. As soon as you guy, give guys something to do, they become comfortable, they become natural versus I'm just gonna pose for you. So definitely keep that in mind. But yeah, occupy the hands if you can. And notice again the hands aren't fists, they're not tense, but they're still masculine hands. Okay next one is feet. So posing feet, I just have a couple tips on that, we covered most of it already. But the big one is avoiding flat, even feet. Your feet should not be even weight and even together. I mean even, so for example, now even if I just have my weight like this, even just doing this, you know even just from straight on, to the side gives you a more dynamic pose, I've got a little bit more of a curve, like even just that. Or the pose we talked about before is peeking the feet back and leaning back. So they're not even. If you wanna go more dramatic, you put your foot up on something. So you know the photo that I showed you in the very beginning of me, my before/after pose with that dress on? The reason that I have the curve I do in that photo, which I have a belt on now but I crossed this leg over and was on toe. Because now if you look, okay flat foot. When I cross this knee over, okay? I cross it over, I give myself a butt curve, basically. I arch my back a little bit and it's the fact that these feet aren't even which gave me curve. And then I leaned forward to reduce my waist. So it's actually the uneven feet that gave me most of that curve. Not even the typical weight back, lean forward. It was actually the cross your knee over, lean forward is what did it in that photo. So I just want you to take a look. The arrow in this instance is for you to watch. So in case, I really had never seen this, so I did a test. Okay so she's standing flat foot and even. Puts her one foot back, even that gives her a little bit of definition but she's not leaning back on that foot, she just put it back and then she leans back. See how much skinnier her waist is? And how much more shape? That gave you hourglass and she, I did not have her lean forward, I did not have her kick her hip out, all she did was that's it. No chest and anything. So I mean I gave her a lot more shape just doing that. So posing feet uneven makes a big difference. And so this is what we talked about before. So we saw that big difference there. Okay so notice the two on the left, remember I said the whole don'ts? Except for I do that in fashion, the flat foot, like okay cause it's the creepy, whatever. But notice just the little, the little turnover is that much more dramatic. And in fashion a lot of times, I'm gonna be dramatic but I'll have the girls like jump and have like one foot off the ground and that makes it that much more dynamic because one foot is on the ground, one foot is much higher. And now I have much more dynamic shapes to work with so I'll do that a lot as well. Okay so. Alright so the two photos that I have here, let's talk about her feet. In both of these photos her feet are flat and even. At least on the one on the right, I've given her a little bit of negative space and a little bit of shape by putting her hands on her hips. But it is static, like can you feel that it is up and down. Your eyes do not move in that photo, your eyes go phoo, straight down. What you want is your eye to wander. You want your eye to go through, and that's what they talk about, the secret of s-curve. I never found that it was super useful for me to do c-curve, s-curve. Just for women I'm like I wanna do this in their pose. So in this pose now I do this, you see my hand? I'm literally doing this. So if you look, all I had her do was stick her foot out and her hip out. And it was that foot out that made the difference, getting her feet uneven. So you can kind of see that there. This is a nit-picky thing but I, it's not that nit-picky but I find it gives me more, makes somebody look taller. Oh two things, this is not related to posing, but if you ever have some girl that's really short and wants to look really tall you back up, get down, and zoom in, right? The low angle. And have her wear nude shoes, nude colored shoes. Because it looks like the nude shoes are an extension of her leg. It makes her legs look longer. So that's why that fad came in a couple years ago cause it makes everybody look longer. But similarly when her foot comes straight towards the camera, it's towards the camera, it stops. When she turns it to the side, it's a continuation of her leg. Her leg looks longer and the pose looks smoother when her foot is turned to the side. So even if I have a girl who has her hip out her foot's not facing the camera. Because it's not continuing that flow. It's to the side and it gives me even more to kind of flow out through that pose. So it's something to watch out for so if you're directing somebody and you're having them put your foot out to the side and kick your hip and make sure you say, you know turn your foot out in a way. You know turn your foot to the right or whatever it may be. So that's why that pose has a little bit more dynamic to it. And we talked about that. Okay so dynamic poses. This was asking for the funky poses, the different poses. In fashion there's usually two, there's more than that but really two main ways you go. You either go sexy or you go like for powerful high energy. You know, I sometimes do creepy, those ones. Okay but beyond that. And the way that you do sexy is curves. The way that you do dynamic and powerful is triangles. Triangles and negative space, lots of triangles. So when you see a girl in fashion, doing something like this or like this, it's always triangles, triangles created by the arms, triangles created by the legs, triangles created by everything. That's what gives you dynamic poses versus maybe for boudoir more it would be curvy, fashion it would be triangles. So it's just like a little bit different in what you're trying to achieve, curve versus really dynamic shapes. So you're going to see that in some of my fashion work, I'll show you like a couple, like a contact sheet. But just keep that in mind when you're doing fashion, I often get asked to critique, I often get asked to critique fashion portfolios and they're usually not fashion. They're usually pretty woman looking sexy which is more glamour which is fine. But I can tell that a lot by the pose and what I'm supposed to be looking at. If I'm supposed to be looking here or here, it's usually more in the glamour realm. Versus if I'm supposed to look at a powerful, dynamic composition, that usually tends to be more, tends to be more in the fashion realm. It all depends on the photo. Yeah? Can you talk about like triangles versus, I'm sorry. You talk about triangles versus curves and whatnot but it seems that they're almost, I guess the same, sort of. I mean it kinda seem like it was, as opposed to Okay so, Jenn. Okay so let me just do a little example here. Put this aside. I'm not gonna shoot it but tell me if you can tell from this Can you maybe stand out there? Okay what I'm gonna have you do, is I'm gonna have you, sorry. Okay put your left leg and tuck your knee over. And I'm gonna have you put your hand real soft up to the side and then your right hand real soft on your neck. Okay? Alright so these, if you're looking, this is kind of gonna be curve, it's soft, like this to me would be more sensual or boudoir. I'm gonna have you arch your butt and back just a little bit so now I have more curve. Okay for fashion, and I'm talking like editorial fashion, there's still fashion that's sexy, don't get me wrong. There's still sexy fashion. But I'm talking about like the editorial stuff. Okay now what I want you to do is I am going to have you lean forward on one knee and bend that knee. You're gonna put one hand behind your head and one hand on your hip. This would be more fashion, where you know they have like cool, funky clothing. And so if you're looking, put your hand behind your head for me. If you're looking, this is a triangle and this is a triangle and that's a triangle. Versus, go back to the other one for me, and that's more curvy and soft. So one's soft and one's more like dynamic. (audience laughing) And both are right, both are right. Just depends on what you're doing. Okay so, elbows. We talked about elbows a little bit so I already said how I felt about elbows. This is the one example that I wanted to say. Okay this girl, I mean this 100% sincerely. I was telling her what I was doing here, I'm saying okay I'm shooting, I wanna show that elbows, are, that elbows, that armpits are ugly. She goes oh I actually just did a deodorant ad last week so my armpits are really nice right now. She actually shot an armpit ad, I'm like okay, okay. So you're not my ugly armpit model I was looking for. I've never met someone who shot armpit ads. So my recommendation to you is like I said, you don't want elbow towards camera, you want it away or down. But if you're going to do a close-up shot where you have it away, ideally you have it either in shadow, you have it covered by clothing, or it's a really nice armpit (audience laughing) like hers. Obviously I'm talking about most people's armpit. The average portrait client does not have those armpits. Just saying. Okay next one. I might, well, I might have to shoot this, I'll show you guys this later to illustrate what I mean but for posing noses. Posing noses, the one thing that I would watch out for is when the nose crosses the cheek line. What I mean by that and I will, I'll show you, you'll actually see this, is when somebody turns to the side and you're photographing them, at some point the edge of their cheek, the nose peeks out over the top of it. Either do or don't. Just like I said like for cropping. Either have them in profile so it is, it you can just see, the rule is for profile usually you wanna see just their eyelashes of the back eye and see their profile. Or have the nose completely within the cheek line. It's when it peeks out just a little bit that you notice it more and this is like the big no-no for people with big noses. That's like the huge no-no for people with big noses. Because it's saying look how long their nose is, it crossed their cheek line. And then you notice it. It's true, so. I always have myself photographed mostly straight on. (audience laughing) okay so good or bad poses, I'm just gonna talk about a couple things to be aware of. I am going to demonstrate on her and I'm just gonna have her go ahead and act this out a little bit, of things you do and don't wanna do. So this is mostly summarizing what we've talked about. Before we move on, what we're going to be doing later is gonna be more about analyzing body types and faces and things like that. So here's some dos or don'ts. Just to keep this in mind, try to train your eye. Alright, so. You can act these out if you want and I'll just tell you what it is and see if you guys can tell. So is that camera, can that camera see her okay? Alright so you never wanna lean back in a chair. You always want your subject to lean forward. Same thing with standing, you never want them to lean back, you always want them to be neutral or forward, that's an always. That's summarizing what we've talked about before. Okay next one, would you stand up for me? Alright. You never, the same way never is you know, always never. You never want the arms tight to the side. You never really want the arms lined up with the side of the body, even if you're like sitting. When it's lined up completely because, okay my two and a half inches on either side is now five, I'm five inches wider. You always want some negative space so can you just give me a little bit of negative space, hand on your hip, arm up, something so that you can see the sides of their body. Always. Okay, that's a big one that I see when people are sitting. A lot of times for sitting shots, take a seat real quick, will you cross your legs? Will you out your elbow on your legs, yeah just like that. Depending on how you shoot it, if you shoot this wider, her arms, I can't see the sides of her body. And so, I mean she's pretty narrow so it's not a big deal but depending on how she's posed it'll make her look wider, you can't actually see her shape. For me if I were going to do that, I would either shoot tight cause maybe it's a cute shot there, or I would find a way to have like a posing stool or a table or a bench or something off to the side, so she's turned to the side so I can see her curve or she can lean out versus straight on cause now you can't, I mean I'm covering everything, I look wider, versus I'm curved to the side. So just like that, that's perfect, she's good. (audience laughing) Alright, so that's an always/never thing. Women over the shoulder, can you turn around and look over your shoulder at everybody? Okay and now raise your shoulder up. Okay, you don't have to go that extreme. Turn around that way a little bit more. Okay keep going a little bit more to the back, good and now look over. And chin, shoulder up a little bit. So make sure if you're shooting it, right now form my camera angle, her shoulder and her chin merge together from this angle. So watch your angles so that you actually see a neck. When I shoot over the shoulder, I try to shoot from a higher angle. So I see more neck. Lower angle gets rid of neck. So it's kind of an always/never one. We talked about this one, don't put appendages, appendages towards the camera, put them to the side. This also applies to feet. So this is a good one, if the cameras watch this too. Can you put your feet out like this towards the camera? Okay alright and then lean out towards the camera. Okay, like that fine. Okay for everyone here, that I mean that's just really not good and I can tell you why in many ways. There's no curve, she's, I have shortened her hugely. I basically collapsed her down so from top to bottom I mean I've just made her so short, we said our goal was to elongate. Okay that didn't work. Her legs look short because they're at the camera. Her arms look okay this way but they're covering her curves. So instead of appendages or posing at the camera, I'm gonna have you sit on the side and turn your body that way. So now kick out your left foot. Good and I'm gonna have you lean out onto that arm. Okay and so if you're going to do something like that, I'm gonna have you move your bottom this way. And tuck this foot around the outside of the bench. Okay and I'm gonna have you put this arm maybe on your hip. Okay good and you can out that like in your hair. Okay at least something like that, can you see triangles, triangles, negative space? She's at least going to the side so there's shape. If she took that exact thing and pointed towards you, it's awful. (audience laughing) I mean she has no shape. Even if she goes three quarters. So for an instance like this if I've, I've done this plenty of times shooting on like a park bench I'll have a girl pose and I'll just change my angle. You know whatever's comfortable for her and whatever's natural cause sometimes there's only one way you can really sit on a seat or a bench and I'll make sure I'll move. Which is why it's a little harder in a studio lit environment for example to photograph couples cause usually I just move around them to get what I want. So avoid awkward angles, some things you wanna avoid are like, the hunch or like, I don't know sometimes people try really hard and it's like really uncomfortable, just try to keep them comfortable. Next ones would be sitting. Just like we talked about there, avoid balling up, elongate. You always wanna elongate your subject. Turn them away from the camera if that makes them look longer. Have them, if she was too bent over like that, instead of having her bend down, put her hand up. Will you do it one more time? Instead of having her bend down like that, now just sit up straight and put your hand there. Like something like that if that's more comfortable. Hand soft, and that hand a little soft, put your hand right here. Good and out a little further and back. So what I'm looking for is not that right angle, you know I can have her at least elongated versus you know something like that. And we talk about that later, okay. Perfect. Alright. Perfect. That was fantastic. Let's go with Wonderful Ida. When you get guys to put their hands in their pockets, do you specify thumbs in, thumbs out, hooked by the thumbs, what's your hands in pockets rule? Okay so my hands in pockets rules for guys. I base it off of what happens in GQ and in GQ they do hands in, thumb out. That's why in GQs they look good. Although I will say like I have seen no problem where they're hooking their thumb, that's fine. I just wouldn't do too frilly hands, I would just kinda soften it a little bit so it shows confidence versus stress. But yeah, hand in with the thumb out. Cool thank you and Lindsay we were talking earlier about posing eyes and Pro Photographer asked how do you adjust for people who have one eye larger than the other. Which way do you like to go with that? Cool so that's somewhat in the next section but I will tell you usually it's whatever's smallest you wanna put closer to the camera to look bigger, if you wanna even it out. Unless that's the bad side of their face. So it kinda depends. (audience laughing) We'll take a look at it, but it, it will take a little bit more. And just a follow-up on that, the bad side of the face, the good side of the face, how do you approach that, I mean how do you determine? Okay so sometimes it's not obvious. And if it's not really obvious to you, then I don't make a big deal out of it. It's more if somebody has a significantly droopier eye. For example. I have definitely had plenty of portrait clients, especially when I do family portraits where someone had a significantly droopier eye. Now by definition what you would usually think is okay, it's a smaller eye, I wanna put it closer to the camera to make it larger. But then what you're showcasing is the droopier eye. And you don't really wanna do that. So it's things like an eye that's really slanted or maybe some people have more of a crooked nose, it kind of depends. Rarely do I look at someone and I'm like okay, I know which side of the face. (audience laughing) like it's not usually like that. Quite honestly, what I usually do is I say, oh and this is an icebreaker too, I think this is a good one to add on too. A good icebreaker for me is I tell people, if you don't mind, I'm just gonna test my light, you can sit there, you can just sit there and text, you can just relax. And I'll click, okay will you just turn your head that way, okay good, alright just turn your head that way. I'm just testing my light. And I just look at the back of the camera, like if you're really unsure and you wanna see, you can tell you know, pretty quickly something like that. And then the other reason I find that's a good icebreaker is if I'm just clicking and I'm just saying don't worry about it, I'm just testing my light, those initial flashes that people are stressed out about by that time if I do this for three, four minutes they're bored and now bored equals relaxed. (audience laughing) You know so if they're just like sitting there and then I can just ooh that's good, let me just tweak that. You know and it works good.

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.


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!