Vogue.... All About the Pose (How to Look Good in Pictures, Part 2)

Hey Everyone, welcome to part 2 of “How to look good in photos”.  For those of you who have not read part one – “It’s all about Perspective”, you can just click on the link and read it now.  For the rest of you, how did you go practicing your in camera perspectives? I would really love to hear if it has helped your understanding and if you have any questions.

Today we are going to move on to poses that can help you look better.

1. Posture:

Posture, posture, posture.  I can’t say it enough.  Nothing make us look more rounded or less interested in being in a photo than poor posture.  Imaging someone is pulling you up from the top of your head, elongating your neck and torso.  Engage your core muscles and suck in that tummy (the last bit doesn’t always work for me, but at least I try). Check out the pictures below.  On the left I am relaxed into a slouching position, on the right I have pulled up from the top of my head, see how it already makes me look taller and slimmer? 

Fig. 1: On the left I am relaxed into a slouch and look rounded and my neck shortened.  On the right I have straightened my psoture and already look slimmer and taller. 

Fig. 1: On the left I am relaxed into a slouch and look rounded and my neck shortened.  On the right I have straightened my psoture and already look slimmer and taller. 

2. Avoid Mergers:

No, I don’t mean business mergers (that’s up to you), and I don’t mean avoiding contact with the gorgeous man or woman next to you (if that’s what you want).  What I mean is: create some space between your limbs (i.e. your arms) and your body.

If you have your arms down by your side, and especially if you are wearing long sleeves the same colour as your top, our brains will perceive you as wider than you really are.  You can create shape to your body by creating space between your body and your arms. Now, before you go stretching your arms out to the side (which is only appropriate if you are on the front of a boat with a gorgeous guy, or trying to fly), you really only need to create a gap.  You can do this by placing your hands on your waist, or running your hand up your thigh to create a bend.

The best shape to make is a triangle – the brain loves triangles, it gives something for our eyes to map and lead us to a point of vision – like your amazing waist, or irresistible face.

Fig. 2: My arms 'merge' with the shape of my body on the left, on the right I have shown the shape of my body by pulling my arms away from my sides. 

Fig. 2: My arms 'merge' with the shape of my body on the left, on the right I have shown the shape of my body by pulling my arms away from my sides. 

In Fig. 2, above you can see on the left I am standing straight up and down with my arms by my side.  I create a "box" and the brain perceives me to be wider than I am. To help to show my shape I have pulled my elbows back to create 'negative space' between my body and my arms.  This gives the eye something to trace along and makes my waist appear narrower. Also, by putting one leg in front of the other I have narrowed my hips and created a nice shape. 

3. If it bends, bend it:

The idea behind this is that we want to create a lovely shape for the eye to travel along.  If you are too straight the eye becomes 'stuck' in one place on the image.  Also, if your arms and legs are straight you often look stiff and uncomfortable in the photo.  Generally when we are relaxed we have our arms bent, like when we put our hands in our pockets, on your waist, or crossed in front of our bodies.

For women we want to create a nice 'S' shape to round out the bits we want round and reduce the size of things we want to reduce (like in Fig. 2 where I narrowed my thighs and waist by shifting my weight to one foot, bending one knee in front of the other and dropping my right shoulder to meet my raised right hip.  

For the gentlemen we are looking for more of a 'C' shape and want to generally emphasise the shoulders and narrow the waist (think of a triangular torso) as this appears strong and masculine. 

Oh, and don't forget to relax your hands.  No one likes "Barbie hands" or clenched fists.  Try to keep your hands soft, like 'ballet hands'.  Guys can keep the hands curved, but not clenched.  Also avoid shut-off body language when crossing your arms - instead of doing a complete cross, try wrapping one arm around your body and gently resting the other hand in the crux of your elbow as demonstrated below. 

Fig. 3: Avoid stiff 'Barbie hands as demonstrated in the top left image; and try not to clench as in the top right image. When crossing your arms, avoid a 'shut-down' and use gentle hands in the elbow as shown on the bottom right. 

Fig. 3: Avoid stiff 'Barbie hands as demonstrated in the top left image; and try not to clench as in the top right image. When crossing your arms, avoid a 'shut-down' and use gentle hands in the elbow as shown on the bottom right. 

4: Avoid foreshortening:

Remember the rules about perspective to the camera lens? What is closest to the lens appears biggest? Foreshortening is when you create the illusion that your limb is too short or missing by, for example, having your elbow pointed at the camera.  This looks like your elbow is close to the camera but your forearm is missing. Often this also results in the strange appearance of your hand coming straight off your elbow (yeek!). Try repositioning your arm to create a better perspective....

Fig. 4: Oh my! Don't I look shocked on the left?  My arm has shrunk and appears to be all elbow!  By dropping my elbow on the right I have increased the length of my arm into much more normal proportions. 

Fig. 4: Oh my! Don't I look shocked on the left?  My arm has shrunk and appears to be all elbow!  By dropping my elbow on the right I have increased the length of my arm into much more normal proportions. 

5: No Hand Backs

That's right, no handing back... (just joking, gosh, I wish I could come up with a better pun).  Anyway, this is the last tip for today, so bear with me.  Try not not have the back or your hand or palm facing square on to the camera.  This creates a large space which holds the eye.  Instead, try to turn the hand so that the side is facing the camera, if possible the little finger.  This creates a gentler curve and less impact on the eye (see Fig. 3 bottom right). 

So, go off and practice this today.  Remember to share this post with your loved ones (click the Facebook link below or pin it to Pinterest to come back to later) so that they can help you to remember the tips while they are taking amazing photos of you.

Feel free to ask questions in the comment section below and I’d love to see all those beautiful shots.  And don’t forget to subscribe to the email list to be notified of the next instalment when I will share some tips on lighting and gorgeous expression and connection!

Til then,

Travel safe

Amelia McLeod.