Posing for Curvy Women

Lesson 3/11 - Tip 2: The Power of Perspective


Posing for Curvy Women


Lesson Info

Tip 2: The Power of Perspective

So the next one is the power of perspective. The secret of posing that people don't know is perspective. You can have the absolute most beautiful pose for a curvy woman and then you shoot it and it looks terrible because your perspective's wrong. Your lens choice, your camera angle, something's not right. And so perspective is the next thing to check off in your list. And there are three main ways that you can affect perspective. Now, this is true whether you're photographing someone who's curvy or more slender, it doesn't matter. But when I'm photographing someone with curves, I push the perspective more to an extreme. Like I use it more drastically than I do with someone who's more slender. So, same rules apply, just more of it. So first one is going to be you control the perspective by the subject, position or pose. Next down that line is going to be perspective from camera angle. And then the last part is going to be the focal length you choose. So I'm going to break down each part...

of these, but this is what you would want to put in your list when you're saying all right, I'm shooting. Am I using perspective correctly? Check their pose, check your camera angle, check your lens choice. So, let's take a look what I mean by pose. So, if anyone watched my Posing 101 class, one of the most important things that I say over and over again is whatever is closer to the camera appears larger. Whatever's further from the camera appear smaller. So this can be controlled both by pose and your camera angle. And the way that you know this is, can I have this camera for a second? The way you know this is if I put my hand out to the camera my hand looks really, really big compared to the size of my face 'cause it's closer to the camera so it looks larger. But if I pull my hand back it goes back into correct proportion. So that's the basic way, the basic idea behind it. But you use it for the body. So let's take a look. So for this, this is Kimberly. She was a fireball, she was wonderful. She's really, really good subject to pose, but related to the hair and makeup, she was feelin' it. She had her hair make up and so when you've got someone feeling it, it's so much easier to pose them. But let's take a look here. Here's where she's just posed neutral. Upright, standing tall. And one of the things I recommend, and you've maybe heard me say this over and over again for my posing, is that you want to elongate your subjects. And when I say this, I say often okay, pull it to the top of your head, elongate, great. Now if you all do that at home, if you say pull it to the head and elongate, do you feel your stomach kinda suckin' in? I never want to say to someone suck your stomach in. I don't want them to think their stomach's sticking out. But if I have them pull up to the top of their head, everything tightens. But if they slouch, everything gathers. All right, so I have her pulling up to the top of the head, which is exactly what I want, but when she does that, and pulls up, stomachs a little bit closer the camera 'cause everything's pulled up and back. And the other problem that sometimes happens to people is they pull up to the top of head, elongate, and they pull their chin back a little. So, what I told her to do, I said same pose, great. I just want you to lean forward with your chest and stick your chin out and down. So just watch her chest between these. All I did is I had her lean her chest forward. I didn't change my camera angle, my lens choice, anything. So here's before. Here's the after. In the after, there's much more attention to her face and her chest, and draws attention away from her stomach. I didn't have a push her stomach away. Like literally, it's this. That's all she did is lean her chest forward. So one more time, before. And after. So that's part of your perspective. I brought something closer to the camera through her pose. And then here's to another extreme. So I told you she was kind of a sassy girl. Like she's great, and so I said all right, give me a pose with some attitude, and she's like mm. Problem is whatever's closest to the camera will look larger. So taking a look here, obviously, you can tell the camera angle's about here, so it makes her bottom and her midsection look larger. Now, she really liked her butt. She could turn a little bit more and keep that. And it's gonna look real big, but if that's what she's going for, great. It's fine if that's what she wants to show off, but in this case, we're going for, we want a little bit more of the curvy hourglass shape. So, I have her do this. This the difference between the two shots. First one, she's doing this. Hips towards the camera. And the next one, I said what I want you to do is put all of your weight on the back foot and kick your hips away, so the weight away, so it went from here to here. So let's take a look. There's no Photoshop, zero Photoshop. No camera angle change, no lens choice change. It's literally just her shifting her weight, and so I'm playing with perspective. It's perspective of how the camera's seeing her body. Makes a huge difference. And so let's just take a look at 'em side-by-side. Totally different shots. And then the same thing here. I just circled some problems that we had. Some problems that we had when she stuck her hip out, I lost her neck. You want to see people's necks. If you're posing somebody where they're hunched over or they're sitting back and you've lost the neck, it's not the most flattering for them. You want to see the neck in some way. And the next thing, we're going to talk about mergers later on. But you want to see the sides of the body, generally, 'cause if you don't, it makes 'em look wider. Hips push towards camera, and then we'll talk about the last part, narrowing points. We'll get there. Narrowing points are my favorite. So let's go for an even fuller figure subject. In this instance, what you'll see, can you see? Watch the with of her hips there. In the first one, she does this. Nothing, right? In the second one, I have her put her foot back, and it narrows a little bit. But in the third one, I have her kick her weight back, and see how her body is already narrowed? But then, if she does one, two, three, four, now face and chest are closer, hips and stomach are further away. But with her, we pushed it a little bit more to an extreme just to show you an example. So again, zero Photoshop. It's all done in camera. So straight on towards camera, in her instance, she looks widest. So all I did is I had her turn a little bit to the side. When you turn a fuller figure subject to the side, what you have to watch out for is there's a certain point where they turn to the side and the stomach sticks out. But straight on, there their widest, so what you have to watch is that point where the stomach's still hidden within the body, or, I'm not saying completely hidden. You know what I mean? Like downplayed a little bit. Without having everything in profile 'cause that's when you're gonna notice the shape a little more. So it's that, like notice, she's not totally to the side, she's kind of a little past three-quarters. And the last part, I said she's leaning up against the wall, kick your weight back, lean to me and stick your chin down, and I've got a video so you'll see what this looks like. While I'm on this topic, arms. Now, in this case, she has her arms covered. You don't always need to have your subjects arms covered, but with curvier subjects, watch out for the arm smush. Arm smush would be if the arm is close to the body and it smushes it out, and it makes it look wider. Or, in this case, I have her leaning against a wall. She's leaning against the wall, it'll just smush out her arm. So I have her at the end, you'll see in the video, just lift her arm a little bit away from the wall and her body. So bring the arm slightly away from the body, slightly away from the wall, and it's going to look more flattering. So let's take a look here for her. Have you turn three-quarters, so that you're again the wall. Perfect. Now put your leg back, and put your weight way back, and now lean way towards me. Perfect, perfect, perfect. Chin out and down, and hide your back right arm. Perfect. And tilt your head a little bit to the side. Great, and now bring your arm forward just a little bit. Yep, and elbow keep going this way. Again, off the wall, perfect. A little bit narrower. So the whole time, kind of what I'm looking for is I'm looking for perspective, bringing her face and chest closer, putting her hips and her midsection away, and then anything that's going to make her look a little narrower. The arm in that first shot was extending the width of her body. And then also when her arm was kind of pulled back, it extended the width of her body. So I was moving it forward so everything got narrower. So again, kind of putting it all through. Okay, turn three-quarters to the wall, great now put your weight on your back hip. Perfect, back leg, now lean your chest forward, lean, great. Stick your chin out and down just a little bit, perfect. Then I'm watching, hide the back arm. And then, we're gonna pull that front arm away from the wall 'cause it'll make her look narrower again. Right now, it's pulled back and extends the size of what her body looks like. So, that's kind of how I talk through that. So that's the first part of perspective. That first part of perspective is going to be your subjects position. But then the next part of this is going to be camera angle. So the angle that you have to your subject. And typically this means up and down. The height. So if you notice me being a little shorter, I've got apple boxes in my studio, I have a step ladder, and I got a mini step ladder, 'cause I often need it. Because I'm gonna change the position of where my camera is in order to utilize perspective. Not a right or wrong answer. Everybody's different. But you have to know how to use the tool. So for example, this subject here. In all of these shots, the only thing that changes, her pose stays the same, is my camera angle. And so let me show you what my camera angle is. I'm gonna put a line in this next shot that shows you where my camera angle was. So in the first one, my camera angle is near her midsection, and when it's near her midsection, that makes her look larger in the midsection. Next thing I move up a little bit to about chest level. So things kind of even out. It's probably more accurate to how she's looking in that pose. And then the next one, when I get higher up, look how much smaller the bottom of her body looks when I'm near her face. Let's go back to the I like my butt example. If you want that to look larger, first thing is position subjects' pose, push the weight towards camera, whatever's closest to the camera look largest. Oh yeah, and you can get lower. If your camera angle's closer, it'll look bigger. Typically that's not what people want. Typically it's going to be you get a slightly taller camera angle, slightly higher, so that when they lean forward, the chest and the face is closer towards camera, the hips and the midsection away. Most of the time, that's what you want. But comparing these two, she didn't move an inch, I just moved. Focal length, like all of that stays the same, it just looks totally different. Now one thing to watch out for for this. So if I get up at a high angle, and I shoot down on my subject, the face and the eyes are going to be closer. That's great. But that higher angle does not translate into a full-length shot. Because when you're shoot it at a full-length shot, they'd now look shorter. They look compressed 'cause you're shooting down on them. So, don't be like oh yeah, Lindsay says get at a higher angle, lean the chest forward 'cause that looks best. But then you shoot a wide full-length shot 'cause then they're going to look really short, and you want your subjects to look longer. So, it all kind of work together. So, let me just mention the last piece of this perspective equation. Perspective for focal lengths. So we talked about your subject moving for pose for a perspective. We talked about you moving your camera angle. But the last part is that the lens that you choose affects how this looks. And the key to remember is this. The whole thing of perspective, it's exaggerated with a wide lens. So, if you have someone lean their face and their chest to closer towards camera, and you shoot that with 150 millimeter lens, that lean doesn't do much because they're compressed. It's just how it works. The longer lens, you won't see that much of a move. But if you do that exact same thing with a 24 millimeter lens, holy crap, it is super exaggerated. So, this girl isn't a curved subject, but you can see it here. I have the exact same camera angle, exact same everything. She's doing the exact same lean, but the one on the left is with 75 millimeters, and the one on the right is with 35. Notice how she almost starts to look kind of caricature on the right. Although that looks caricature to you now, when you have a fuller subject, makes things even a little more proportional. You just have to be cautious of it. So, an example here is I was always told way back when is you don't take pictures of people with a 50 millimeter lens. Oh yeah, no you do, you totally can. You can do 50, you can do 35 'cause you can use that lean 'cause now the face and the chest, the distance is exaggerated. So if the person leans forward, the face and the chest seems even closer to the camera which means it seems even bigger. Oh. And the stomach and the midsection seem even further away which means they look even smaller. So, the full length shot of a girl, I use something longer. Close up shot, I use something a little bit wider. So you have to use your lens choice. So here's an example of kind of all these elements coming together. Like I said, we'll build. So of course, her outfit. And none of this is planned. This is how she showed up, which again, walking down the street, that would be fine. But all I see is I look left to right, left to right, left to right. I can't help it. And then the scoop neck, it's just it's a big sea of lines, so instead, what we did is I had her wear her undergarment Spanx body suit actually as her shirt, and then we put on a jacket. So everything is gonna be much easier to pose with, your not looking left to right. But the problem that I have here is can you see where my camera angle is? It's kind of like here-ish. And the way she's turned, like that's kinda, it's what I'm looking at. Also, the next part of this is her arm is tight against her body. I can't see where the body ends and the arm begins, so it makes her appear a little bit wider. And also, how she's posed is she's kinda leaning back a little bit. So her leaning back, her pose, her stomach's closer to camera, and you can't really tell, but you see how her chins a little softer? Pull the chin back a little bit. So what I had her do is I had her do the same thing, but I create negative space. So I make sure there's some space between her arm. She doesn't have to put it on her hip or her waist, she could just pop the arm out a little bit, but it creates a negative space. And then, I have her lean forward. And when she leans forward, I move my camera angle just a little bit. So all of that plays with perspective, so let's see before and after. I get a little higher, she leans forward. Negative space. None of that's Photoshopped. That's all right on camera. Makes a really big difference. So it's posing, and my lens choice, and my camera angle, all of that. So that is perspective. You have to use it. When I should curvier subjects, I do everything to an extreme. I have them lean further forward, hips back farther, I get up a little bit higher, I just use the tools I normally use, just a little bit more than usual. So that is my second tip. Questions on that? Do you ever use a white background or does it matter? Good question. It doesn't matter but it does. So in the examples I did have like the beige is kind of a little bit, like it's kind of the lightest I have. When I have a very light background, because of the contrast, it makes me notice shapes or bumps or imperfections more. So I tend to do something that's a little bit more subtle, so I'm not paying as much attention to the contours of the body. It's stylistic, though, if you want to shoot on white, shoot on white. It's just I tend to go teeny bit darker. So, I guess we have an online question, and I am, can I have Maggie for this example? But let's take the online question next. Do you take skin tone into consideration when choosing colors and does that have an effect? So, the answer is yes and no. For skin tone, there's just certain colors that I like better on darker versus lighter skin tones. Like for lighter skin tones, I seldom go with light colors, but I can use, like I like some light rich colors on a darker skin tone. It doesn't really affect my posing, per se, or anything like that. But it's purely stylistic. And dark colors look good on everybody. I'm going to demo with Maggie for just a second, and let's make sure my camera wakes up. Great. Perfect. Thank you, my dear. Let me get my light a little taller 'cause I'm short. And will you come up just a little bit? The first thing I'm gonna have you do is turn to your right. Great. And I'm going to take one shot. She's just standing flatfoot. Something like this. (camera beeping and clicking) Oh, wait. Let's turn on my light. Yeah. (camera beeping and clicking) Okay, great. Next one. So, taking a look here. That's not really using anything to my advantage. Same thing, can you cross your arms? Like that? Yep, great. So when I do this. (camera beeping and clicking) This is going to depend on the subject whether this works. If they have more slender arms, notice how you can actually kind of create a waist. You're actually bringing a waist line in. That can actually work. If somebody's got a little bigger arms, sometimes that technique won't work. But the next thing that I have here, perspective wise, is I'm kind of here, like I'm kinda right at her midsection. So, what I can have her do is can you put your right leg behind, like this, great, and now kick your weight back. Good. And now, yes, right there! Wait, the other way. Yeah, right there, perfect. And now, so all of her weight's on that back leg. So real quick, let me show you so far. Improved it a little bit. So I put a little bit of light weight back. Look how the lines get smoother. For the next thing perspective, can you lean your chest towards me? Great. And chin down just a little. Perfect. (camera beeping and clicking) now watch how much more attention I have in this next shot to her face and to her chest. So, there's more attention there. But I have to fix the arms 'cause it's driving me crazy, 'cause I can't actually see all that work that I'm doing, it's hidden. So I'm just gonna have you put your hand right on your waist. The reason I say waist is if you put on the hips, you look at how wide the hips are. If you put it on the bottom, you look at how big the bottom is. You can do it, but just know what you're doing. And can you put your back hand here? Perfect. So, your hands direct the eye. So by that, I've got hand on the waist. I'm gonna see a waist. Hand to the chest is bringing me up towards her face. So, nothing is drawing me here. Everything is trying to draw me up. So, same thing, lean your chest this way. Great, and chin down a little. Perfect. So, this is gonna be significantly better. So it's looking better, and then, watch when I get my camera angle. Just building all this stuff. So I'm gettin' a little higher. (mumbling) Same exact pose, just like that, lean your chest forward. Perfect. Hold on, I am still kinda short. Great, same thing. So I'm keeping my focal length the same. But I'm getting up a little higher. (camera clicking and beeping) So it's going to do, so a little more attention to her face, and can I have a full apple? Yeah. So, I'm going to swoop through these real quick. Ready watch. Kind of flat foot. Put your weight back a little bit. I need your chest forward, more attention to her face, but I want to see her waist and her chest. Then I lean her chest forward. I get a little bit higher, and now watch when I get higher and wider angle, it's gonna exaggerate perspective. All of this. So, same pose, everything. Weight back, chest forward. I'm going wider angle, so those previous shots were at like 70-ish. Lean, lean, lean. (camera beeping and clicking) So this shot was at 40. So just like, just a little bit narrower at the bottom. It's not huge, but just notice, it made a difference. Her face got, I would say her face got 10 to 15% larger. The bottom of her body got 10 to 15% smaller. And that was from going from about 70 to 40. You keep building. So all of these things work together, and I'm just going to put a side-by-side so you can see. So those things are all kind of perspective related.

Class Description

Wow, you never know what you don't know until you know it! This class was really an eye opener on posing in general but especially curvy women that portrayed their inner beauty as well as the outer beauty. Lindsay was very clear on what and why she did things. The results speak for themselves! I'm totally sold on this method of learning as I'm a visual learner and have retained more than ever before!  - Safronia

Photographers are hired to capture portraits that accentuate the best features of their subjects. Lindsay Adler will share techniques on how to photograph your full figured and curvier clients by accentuating their lines and creating beautiful silhouettes. She’ll show you how to highlight curves and use the right camera angles to flatter the shape of any woman. Lindsay will lay down a solid foundation of posing and styling so that you can make your clients feel comfortable in front of the camera. 

This class will cover: 
  • Styling suggestions for full figured women including a bridal session 
  • Camera angles and posing techniques for the most flattering images 
  • Photoshop techniques to help highlight your curvy subject
Whether your photography focus is wedding, portrait or intimate boudoir, you’ll be able to represent your clients as the unique, beautiful women they are.


Peggy Nugent

This class is so amazing. Lindsay packs a ton of information in, clearly and efficiently. The best part is that she explains the reasons behind every concept, so now instead of setting up my clients in a few memorized poses, I can customize each look for the individual. As Lindsay dramatically demonstrates in this class, over and over, implementing her concepts makes a huge difference in how a woman looks, no matter what her size and shape. And Lindsay does it all with her usual charm and effervescence. This class is worth every penny, and much more.


Quite possibly Lindsay Adler's best class yet on Creative Live!! I own several of her classes - all are informative and helpful, but she is especially helpful in this one, providing LOTS of specific, non-fluff type of tips and quality instruction. The material is well-organized, and I really like that there is so much actionable information provided. Looking forward to putting the tips into practice!!!

Sophie Anwar

Lindsay Adler!!! Words cannot express how you have transformed my thinking. The penny has dropped not just for posing but lighting, using studio strobes within the studio and on location, demystifying speedlights, posing curvy girls. I feel empowered. Lindsay, you are fabulous and I cannot thank you enough for walking me through every aspect of photography. I cannot recommend this course enough. Its just wonderful.