Boudoir Posing


Posing 101: Women


Lesson Info

Boudoir Posing

I have found, personally, that most boudoir shoots are really only a few poses. Honestly, I think there are only really three or four poses that the majority of people do. However, they change their focal length; they change their angle; they change their crop. Other than that, it's really all just about the same poses. So if you are unfamiliar with photographing women, just think of these guidelines for boudoir. So number one, out of all, this is number one and two, out of all the posing we do, this is the least comfortable, by far. Everything else I've said so far is be comfortable, relax, relax your shoulders, like all of that. Not true with boudoir! Remember, pain is beauty? Okay, we mean it in this one. Jen Rozenbaum, who did a CreativeLive here, she did my boudoir photos; I was sore the next day. My back hurt, my shoulders hurt, I mean I was uncomfortable, but my shots looked good! (class laughs) So, it was okay. All right, so the first one is curve and arch. You will be saying a...

lot, curve or arch your back. So for example, when I say arch your back, a lot of people do this, right? Okay well that might be okay if you wanted to lift the chest perhaps, if that's what you're aiming for, but if you just wanted to see more curve in the lower back, you would actually say, kind of lift your bum. Or whatever, lift your butt, whatever you're comfortable with. So you're actually arching your lower back to try to get that curve. Related to curve, is also remember, when you're looking, if anything is flat, like the back, the legs, the arms, it's not good. Figure out what you can do to introduce shape. So that might be, if it was a standing pose, curving that leg way over, arching that back, reaching up, anything you can do to give you those lines. If it's laying down, if somebody is flat on their stomach, that's not curve. So you might need them to turn to the side and bend their knee, so it pops up their butt. Okay so just, curve, that's what you want to do. It's not going to be comfortable, which brings me to number two. Number two is relax and repeat. You can tell when someone's straining. So what I'll do is I'll get them in the right pose and say okay remember what that feels like; okay now just relax. Okay now pop to that pose. And you can see, as they pop over to that pose. That's what I recommend. I remember this one pose than Jen had me do, I was on the floor with my legs up, I don't know. It was so uncomfortable, I can see my face is like twitching in one photo, and then she was like, oh, relax. Okay now go back there. And it made a huge difference; huge, huge difference. So relax and repeat. Number three is hands caressing the body or face. So any time you're using your hands for boudoir, When I'm actually doing a session, I would make it more like a dance than a pose. Or like a movement. So if I want hands on hips, I tell them to drag their hands up their hips. If I want hands on the chest, I'd say caress across your chest. Hands on the face: drag your hands along the face. So it is soft and sensual and it actually, I think, gets somebody more kind of involved in the pose and the emotion that you're going for in the eyes, versus saying okay put your hand in your hair, you know, it's much more they can kind of feel it in the pose. So that's a big one. Next one is vary eye contact. Not all boudoir poses should be looking right at the camera. A lot of times it's much more sensual when they're not. So for varying eye contact, I don't mean just look at the camera and then look away. But try looking down their body, or eyes really just down to the ground, or looking at a part of their body, or looking away. So, vary the eye contact, because different eye contact communicates something different. Actually most of my favorite boudoir photos aren't looking at camera, because that to me, it makes it a little more aggressive, and like to me, it's look at me, versus looking away is, you caught me, it's voyeuristic. Versus, I see you. So that's why I like to vary eye contact. And then last is variety. Shoot a whole bunch, and I do standing, laying, and sitting. More often, I will do standing and laying. And all of the shots that you see, like the variety you see with boudoir poses, really it's less about them moving around and more about you a lot of the times. It's you getting a higher angle so you see different parts; you moving around to the side and switching to a wider aperture lens so you just focus on the eyes or you just focus on the shoes, whatever it may be. So, it really is variety in posing, but really almost more of a variety with how you move around. It should actually be a workout for you, not just for them. So, hi! How are you? Good. Okay, perfect. So I am going to, and definitely feel free to bring inspiration, but look at it beforehand, because right away you don't want to be like, okay I don't know what to do, hold on. Like, this is when you need to be confident because you will see the lack of confidence absorbed in them right away. So, I'm going to have you drop it, only because I want to see all the posing. All right, perfect. So I am going to have you first go lay on your stomach. And I'm going to have your face this way, okay? All right; so, perfect. So what I'm looking for is what can I do to draw attention to what I want to draw attention to, or how can I make curve? So what I'm looking at first of all, is one thing that I could do it tell her to arch her back. So arch your back, and look what happens. Typically what somebody does when you say arch your back, and I said this before, is they arch their back. Okay, so now relax again. So I actually like relaxed more, for the shoulders, but what you actually want to do is arch your lower back; stick up your butt, basically. So, I don't know if the camera could see, but what it does is it curves more in the back. That's one way you could introduce curve, but something else you can do as well is you can actually have your subject push up on that knee. So I'm going to have you kind of bring this knee up a little bit, so it kicks your hip that way. Great, perfect; so what that just did, do I need to do it again for the camera? I'm going to have you lay flat again, and you can just kick it out, yeah. I'm going to drop the pillows, okay? (pillows thumping) Just for the sake of this. Sorry, I'm making a mess. Okay, so just lay totally flat. All right, so we're going to have this camera. All right, so right now, not so much curve. And now kick that knee. And now look at how much more curve there is to that shape. Okay the next thing, is when her arms are up to the front, I have two tips. Tip number one: if your subject is smaller and you want to emphasize their chest, you've got a couple of tools. First tool is hands in the front, pull those elbows in tighter. It's going to lift everything and make everything look larger. And then also, in general, instead of shooting maybe side angle, you would want to shoot a little bit more in the front because whatever's closest to camera looks largest. But the next thing as well, is if she posed here like this, her hands are kind of obscuring a little bit; I want to see. So, I'm going have you tuck your hand behind, actually your right hand, sorry; your right hand behind. And then I'm going to have you tuck this hand over, your left hand over, and actually underneath your elbow, great. And I want to, pull this elbow back just a little bit. So now I can see a little bit more. She looks a little bit more natural. And then have you bend that knee again, okay? So now I have, ready, eye and curve. So I just have one lay on their stomach and then I tweak to get that curve. So let me, I'm going to have to move my light. Okay it's not a lighting class, but you won't be able to see anything if it's here. So, I'm sorry guys, I'm going to totally block your view for a second. Let's see; I think this'll be fine. How's that for you guys, good? Okay great. Just let me take a photo. (camera beeps) (shutter snaps) Perfect. All right, so this would be go-to photo number one. And I'm going to have you bring this elbow way back, way back there, great. And bring it forward just a little bit more. And so what I'm looking for right now as I'm tweaking, is when she had her arm forward, couldn't see any of her chest, but if she brings her arm back too far it blends in with the curve in her back and I don't want that either, so. Great. And I'm going to have you bring that knee up even more. Good. (camera beeps and clicks) Oh they were firing, thank you. Perfect. (camera beeps) (shutter snaps) Great. Okay so that would be super essential pose number one, so I can get a little bit of curve. You can also, I'm going to have you, you might have to scoot a little bit, lay way out. You can have the subject lay way out and actually recline, so actually just like, yeah just like that, perfect. So what you'll see is I think, this right here, one of the goals we have for women is to elongate, so instead of having everything here, I kind of elongated everything out, good. Perfect, great. (camera beeps) And just a little bit more. And head towards me a tiny bit. (camera snaps) Great. All right, so this would be, I think Christa Meola calls it the serpent; I think that's one of the names she gives for this kind of curve, and so if you want to learn more about boudoir posing, but specifically for lingerie versus more for glamour, definitely check out her class. I know she taught here early on CreativeLive. So, laying on stomach would be pose number one, and know I could photograph this a million ways. So let me just give you an idea. I could photograph from the side. I could also photograph where she has her chin kind of down to her elbow, elbow? Shoulder, that would be, I'm sorry. (laughs) I could photograph around from the front, with a wide aperture lens, and have everything behind her out of focus, just focus on her eyes, or something like that. So just know I would move around, I could shoot higher angles, so on and so forth. Okay, I'm going to switch it up. We did the stomach pose, now I'm going to have her lay on her back. Lindsay I just have a quick question. Yeah? When you do a core pose, how many variations are you trying to get out of it? Okay great, so the question was when I do a core, basic pose, how many variations do I do? It kind of depends, but I would say-- Are you conscious of it? I would say like, three or four different things I'm trying. What I'll do is I'll have them arch it more, lay down more, try something different with their hand, and I'm just trying to tweak it because not everybody's the same. Like, I know you all know that some of the poses you've seen somewhere, you're like, I know that doesn't work for everyone, because it doesn't. So yeah, three or four different varieties. All right, so photographing her here on her back. This is where there's a little workout, because I would definitely say you're going to arch your back. Okay, great; and I'm going to have you put your right arm up over your head. So what she was doing by default is everything was compressed, right? She had her hands here. So I'm trying to elongate and curve. From my other class, that I taught yesterday, I told you that I don't like armpits, so just watch out for armpits in boudoir. She has lovely armpits, but ugly armpits, that is where your eye will go. So just watch out for that. I had a lot of people agreeing with me on Facebook. (student laughs) I had private messages that were like, oh my god, I agree on the armpit thing, I'm like, I know. So I'm going to have you actually put your left arm, perfect, okay great. And I'm going to have you, whatever you can do to arch your back as much as possible, good. Great. And I would shoot with a wide aperture lens; I'm not going to be able to do that here, but this would be moving around. So I would probably shoot from this angle where I can see curve, I can see shape, and I would shoot a wide aperture lens so I'm focused on her eyes, and everything else in the background kind of out of focus. Just let me, just here, good. And can you put your hands to your hip, great. So I'm looking for negative space because before, everything was merged in. And instead of on top can you put in on the side? Like right here, great. Perfect. (camera beeps and clicks) And now what I'm going to have you do instead is can you unarch your back but instead, lift your chest? Good. (camera beeps) (shutter snaps) I'm being dramatic, but it's killing me that I can't shoot with a wide aperture lens because I would; I would not shoot this at f/9, okay? Because then everything's in focus and it's not how I would actually shoot it. And what I would also do as well, is I would get in really close, so I'm going to shoot, this is a 24 to 105, so I don't have to change lenses a lot, but I would shoot maybe an 85/1.4. Get in real close and photograph her eyes in focus. (camera beeps and snaps) And I'm going to have you put your hands to your chest. Will you put, yeah, just real soft, good. (camera beeps) And put your other hand on your stomach, good. Just something like that. (shutter snaps) So I'm looking for multiple points of interaction on her body, but I wouldn't shoot this f/8; please just know that I wouldn't shoot this f/8, okay? It kills me. All right, so those are the first things that I would do. I'd have her do one on her back with her hands up. I'd have her do another where she's arching, I'd have her do one on her stomach, and I would move around. I'd shoot from here; I might do a shot, for example, where, can you cross your legs up in the air? Okay. So what you can do, if you're shooting a wide aperture lens, you can focus on her feet and then have all of her out of focus. So it's more of a feet and heels shot. I would just make sure I could see at least one heel, because otherwise you're just seeing the fronts of her feet, remember yesterday I said how if you turn it it's longer? So it actually, could you turn, let me see this heel a little bit. Yeah, and then just turn your feet a little bit this way. So now I can see a little bit of a heel, and cross your legs a little more. And bend them, bend your knees just a tiny bit, good. So I'm trying to see a heel versus like, legs straight up. Okay, looks good. So we'd shoot something, maybe like that. All right, but let's do a sitting pose. Okay, you good with that? I have a question. Yeah? When you do a laying down, especially on the back, their upper body, especially just like for the older women and for the curvier women, it's very, very hard to place, keep boobs in the places! (laughs) Sorry to ask, because-- Yep, that's fine. Are you solving it with garment, or is there any other tricks with posing that just like-- For me if they're laying on their back, it's garment. Unless of course you do something where hands are wrapped across like this. It would be more of a holding pose. So let's just put it this way, if there is a woman that needs a little support, I build it into the pose. So I do kind of holding shots, soft holding. If they're on their back, I might have hands like this, so I'm lifting and holding everything, versus not. Yeah. (laughs) So yeah I do that, but it's 95% garment, for sure. Okay. Which is why any time that I've actually done a boudoir session, personally, I've made this clear not to go buy inexpensive stuff, if you're going to invest in the session, because inexpensive doesn't usually have the support. And most of the time just me personally, Preferably, I shoot when there's more of the corset part of it, because your stomach is a light area, so your eye goes to the stomach. Now she has a great stomach so it's not a big deal, but a lot of people don't. And so I'd rather not draw my attention there, I want to draw my attention to the chest and then also to the curve of their behind. So ... Got it. I usually have the stomach, like have a corseted look. And then of course I can cinch that and actually give myself a little bit more of that shape. Thank you. You're welcome. Really quick Lindsay if you don't mind, a couple of questions, one from Micro: "When laying flat on their back, "would it help in arching the back "to have a rolled up towel or small pillow under their back, "do you ever do that?" Yeah, that works fine as long as you're not shooting from the side. And what you want to make sure with the arched back is that from the angle you're shooting it doesn't look like stomach sticking out; it looks like chest lifted, versus stomach out. So, oh you look very pretty. Thank you. So we're doing our sitting poses. I would do something like this. Okay, so I'm going to shoot from this angle, where she is leaning. But what I am seeing right now, is everything is bunched. In boudoir, we want to elongate. So, I'm going to have you pull your arm out a little bit more to the side. Keep going; okay, good. Now her knees are at me; I'm going to take a picture. This is like the ultimate form of foreshortening, that you don't want. So don't hate me, okay, just love me. It's all right. Okay, this is a don't picture. All right, so it looks like she has nothing beyond her knees and there's not a lot of shape. The other problem that I have is that she's putting a little bit too much weight on her arm, and she's actually locked out her elbow. I said the goals of what you wanted is curve, not straight line, like ever, when it's boudoir. So, here's what I want to change. I know that I want curve, and I want elongation. So I'm going to have you kick your feet out that way. But I want more curve, and if she does that it's a little bit flat; I'll just show you real quick. (camera beeps and clicks) And you'll be able to see. So I'm going to have her pull that knee over. Pull your top knee way over. Perfect, great. And so I'm going to take a picture. And so I'm just tweaking this the whole way. Great. And even further; it's not comfortable. Okay good. All right, good. (camera beeps and clicks) All right so far. So we're going to get a little bit more curve, but I'm still tweaking. So see how we got a little bit of curve to follow there. All right so now what I'm going to do, instead of locking out on your elbow, can you elongate out and kind of lean on your elbow, like (slaps arm), actually lean on your forearm. Perfect; okay good. And what I want you to do is pull that leg down even more. Yeah, just pull it out a little bit. Great; and I'm going to have you put your, exactly. So, the last part of that, well there's two last parts, I'm looking at this now, and I'll tell you one more problem. (camera beeps and clicks) See if you can see, there's two problems we have. Oh, one other super important point. Don't do boudoir poses on a fluffy bed. I would say this is actually fluffier than what I would do. So when I went to Jen's studio when she was photographing me, the bed that she had in there was the hardest bed possible. (students laugh) No one would ever actually have a bed like that. But notice how she sinks? And so you lose hand. And so if you are actually opening up a studio, then get the most uncomfortable bed ever, for sure. Okay, so what I'm noticing in that last photo, is look at her arm coming at camera. She's balancing herself, so she has that arm at camera. I don't want that; I'm going to curve it in even more. Perfect, looking great. And I'm going to have you, well I'll explain it to you guys. So what I had her do is I had her put her hand on her side, but too much. Because her hand is on her side here, it does definitely add width. So you have them tuck their elbow behind. You don't want to see just fingers on the top; you do want to see a little bit of hand, but you don't want all of this. So I think she did that great. Tuck that knee over even more, kind of lean towards me, and then I'm going to have you push up and elongate. So it is not comfortable, okay? (camera beeps) Good. And push up on your torso, good. (camera beeps and snaps) And drop your elbow back even more, good. And wiggle your fingers, soft, yeah good. (camera beeps and snaps) Perfect. (camera snaps) And I would come around and shoot this from a higher angle as well. Just like this and look right at me. (shutter snaps) Perfect. Good. All right, so that would be kind of my sitting leaning. Okay, two more. Come to the edge of the bed. Great, perfect. Okay, so I'm seeing curve, I don't have too much arm. Legs curved over, so I can see a little bit of curve there. Hands tilted in, eyes are closest to the camera so that's where my attention's going. Okay, so what I'm going to have you actually do, is I'm going to have you kick your left leg out, okay? And I'm going to have you lean forward like this, and one hand on your hip. Your right hand on your hip. And I would shoot from this direction. So the reason I have her kick this leg out, is we want asymmetrical, and we want to elongate. Legs tucked for boudoir is not good, you're trying to elongate things. I'm going to have her touch her hand to her neck or her chest, remember how I said caressing is what you want. So, soft and caressing. And this hand is for negative space and curve. So this would be my sitting, and then we're going to do one more standing. Perfect. Okay let me figure out my angle here. Good, right there's great. Perfect. (camera beeps) (shutter snaps) Great. And now look down to your shoulder. Yeah perfect, right there. (shutter snaps). And I'd also come in for a closer shot. (shutter snaps) Great. Perfect. This one, why it looks better, at f/8, right? Because this one, f/8 it's supposed to be. So that works. Okay, so last thing I would do is standing. I'm going to have you stand up for me. And I am going to add as much curve as humanly possible. Here we go, ready? Mm-hmm. So, I made it sound like it's going to be an event. It kind of will be. (class laughs) Step forward just a little bit. All right, I'm going to have you take that left knee and cross it over as far as possible, perfect. Now I'm going to have you arch your lower back and kick your bum up. And if I need to, what you can do, is put their leg on an apple box or something. That one's probably a little big. But you know what I mean? Because then they can kind of do this. She has heels on, so you can even just go like this. Perfect; lean forward just a little bit. Great; I'm going to take a look at my angles here. So I'm like, all right, I want curve there, great. I have a nice soft hand on the hip. Let's try, can you try it on your waist real quick? Your hand on your waist, like here? No, I like hip better. So I was just looking to see if it would define, but instead it wasn't adding to curve. Okay perfect. And I want more curve; I want to follow this, so with this back hand I'm going to have you, like, kind of, lean up that way. All right, cool. Let's see, do I need to move my light? And what I'm going to have you do is scoot this way; I'm trying to check for camera angles here. Perfect. All right, so all you're going to do, is give me curve, pop out the hip as far as humanly possible. Good, and roll your, ooh! See I told you it was a workout! Good, and lean towards me. And bring that elbow up and around, perfect. (camera beeps and clicks) Good. And now put your hand real soft here. Remember the caressing? Right now she's just grabbing the back of her head, so instead go like this. Perfect, great. (camera beeps) And chin down. (shutter snaps) Great, okay. So I'm going to do something like this, so I have kind of a tapering point; I get a curve there and watch, the hand will improve, so it's a softer hand, looking like she was actually moving, versus gripped on the back of her head. Soft movement, lots of curve, lots of hip. Lindsay I'm going to start off with, do you have any particular techniques that you use for relaxing your boudoir models to get them comfortable into these poses? Yeah, okay so one thing that I do to relax boudoir models is I don't have them start off in complete lingerie. So I actually will start on, she came out with a shrug on. I would totally do that, and I wouldn't do full body poses. I would do the shrug over the shoulders, and just closeup shots, or I would say okay this is just waist up. And then hands on a wall. And I'd still have them curving their back, sticking their chest out, soft hands, but because you say it's just here they're not as stressed about everything. As soon as it's, I'm in lingerie lying on a bed, it's totally different. So yeah, I start off with more clothing, more covering. Okay so this is a marketing thing that I used to do; my biggest boudoir clients were brides, that this was a wedding gift to their husbands. But my thing that I always pitched; I loved this, this was my favorite gift, was I had a print box from Miller's, so I think it was 8 x 8 prints that I used to do. I would do squares and also rectangles. And the top photo would be them fully dressed and then less, and then less, and then less and less, and then naked. (class laughs) So the gift was a striptease in a box. [Man In Blue Shirt] Nice. That's awesome Lindsay, love it. Let's see, we have a question from, let's go with English Rose, do you have any tips on elongating the legs? I mean, besides sticking them out? Okay, so tips on elongating the legs, I would say when somebody's laying on their back, if they need support from one leg, just make sure the one that you can see is elongated. You can tuck another one under for support, and then elongate the one leg that's visible. And that's also why, when I had her sitting on the edge of the bed, maybe she needed one leg tucked in for support, but I made another one elongated. And the other thing is too, don't look at the top of the feet, find a way if you can to see the heel and the side. Because it always looks longer and of course, for boudoir it looks sexier when you can see the heels. And so usually I don't photograph barefoot, unless it's supposed to be a cutesy shoot, where it's all in white and more like boy shorts and things like that. Otherwise heels help make everybody look longer. [Man In White Shirt] Awesome. So, a couple of people noticed that when she was in that particular pose laying down, there were some sort of rolls here; what's your best technique for controlling those, or how do you like to approach that, that spot? So if you have rolls on that side, what you can do is actually reach an arm over, or pull an arm this way. So for example, if I were laying down that way, instead of hand here, I could actually reach the arm out, and this is stretching it out. [Man In Blue Shirt] Cool. So you might obscure, so you might have to see what you have to work with, but I would that instead. [Man In Blue Shirt] Awesome, thank you. Fantastic. And maybe let's go with one more from again, from Divatography: "I struggle to get lying down shots "so I don't have to twist my head when I view it." Is there a rule for how in these lying down shots to get the eyes so it feels natural. Oh, yeah, so a good one for the eyes is, it is fine if they're laying on their back to tip their head up. When you do this, make sure that they're not straining; that's the big one, is watch for forehead. I'm saying that nonstop, when it's the from behind, overhead shots, is, relax your forehead. Relax your forehead, relax your forehead. Another one is also though, they don't have to look at you. Like, that would be a shot where I would have them arch on their back so they're pushed up a little bit, and then have them close their eyes, or something like that. They don't need to be like, looking right at you.

Class Description

Posing women can seem daunting and overwhelming, especially when you consider the seemingly endless looks, styles and situations you can find yourself in as a photographer. In Posing 101: Women, fashion photographer and CreativeLive instructor Lindsay Adler will show you how to pose women comfortably and with style in a variety of scenarios.

Lindsay will lay down a foundation to posing and show you the essential poses for women you need to get started. Using live photo shoots and a 5 guideline approach, you’ll learn how to pose high school seniors and mature women. You’ll see boudoir poses that are graceful and comfortable for the subject yet impactful. Lindsay will teach you specific poses for plus size, bridal and maternity clients. Additionally, you’ll learn how to wow and inspire awe with stylized fashion and beauty poses.

Regardless of your style and experience, this course offers a step-by-step approach to posing women easily and quickly. Regardless if it’s a wedding, portrait or intimate boudoir shoot, you’ll be able to pose with confidence and ease.


Hassan Hussein

This class was a pleasure to watch. Lindsay Adler as always studies the subject to a great extent and then provides it in a very clear and entertaining way to her audience. This class includes all the essentials about posing women. It contains very useful information, tips, and tricks to improve one's photography of women. It further contains great instructions on how to add artistic twists to every pose that could flatter the subject being photographed. I highly recommend this class to serious photographers who want to improve their skills of photographing female subjects.

Christine Yun

Such a great class. I learned so many posing tips and feel so much more confident when getting photographed. Lindsay teaches you the basics and breaks down the essentials to ensure you look your best in pictures.

Chris van der Colff

Lindsay does a great job at taking you through many poses. She not only shows you the poses, but explains why she chooses each for the particular model.