How to Model – Posing for Beginners

I’m not a model, but I’ve been modeling as a hobby for about four years. I’ve done photoshoots, live art modeling, fashion shows, and even a bit of TV. It’s not something I take super seriously, but it can be really fun and it’s a great way to help either new photographers who need to practice certain techniques or expand their portfolios, or experienced photographers break away from the daily grind and try something new. So I thought since I’ve done this for a while and there are always people interested in doing it, I would write a quick guide, to be used either for beginner models or just people who want to fuck around with a camera on Saturday. This is not intended to be advice for professional models. They’re working on totally another level. But if you want to try this out as hobby, this might help you out.

-One first important note: SHOW UP. Models are notoriously unreliable, and this is not just rude, but a huge waste of time and probably money for everyone else involved. I have a zero tolerance policy on shoots that I’m involved in behind the camera. If you don’t at least take it seriously enough to respect other people, don’t bother. You won’t last long.

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Photo by TJ Pendragon

-RELAX! Being stiff is the biggest thing that will hold you back. Seriously, you NEED to relax. A lot.

-Don’t be afraid to look like an idiot. In truth, a fraction of your photos will be usable. That’s not because you’re not good at it, it’s just true for everyone who’s not a pro. Out of the 10 pictures you might see in an album, often over 300 were actually taken. This means that many of them are unusable anyway, and not being afraid to “go there” is what’s going to result in magic on those few good ones. Otherwise, the whole thing can fall flat.

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OMG HEEEEELP! Seriously, it was so hard to get out of this thing.

HEEEEELP! Photo by Jenna Lee

-Use a prop. The biggest challenge is when you’re just standing in front of a backdrop. You wonder WTF are you supposed to do? Having a prop gives you something to interact with, something to do with your arms, and helps you a lot for ideas. My favorite thing so far has been a hoola hoop, but you could use anything, including a wall. When you’re totally stuck, use your own body!

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Dat ass.

-Don’t forget your neck.

-Make small movements. If you’re new to posing and the idea overwhelms you, moving one body part at a time will not only make things more simple, but give the photographer a lot of variety, and time to see what they might like you to do.

-Point your toes. All the time. Even when you’re standing (heels count).

Foot fetishists gave me my start on Deviant Art.

Foot fetishists gave me my start on Deviant Art.

-Communicate with the photographer. Tell them any ideas or concerns you may have and they’ll work with you while directing you. Directing isn’t them telling you what to do, it’s a conversation and a collaboration. Help them help you.

-If your pose feels physically weird, uncomfortable, or painful, it often means it looks awesome. Sometimes even your damn eyeballs will hurt.

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Photo by Kathy Cruz (Glam Chix Artistry), makeup artist and other model is Elliot James

-If you feel mentally weird, uncomfortable, or painful, you need to stop.

-Whatever you’re doing, do it more. Subtlety isn’t usually the camera’s friend (though it can be).

-Be versatile. Don’t do the same damn style with the same damn pose with the same damn face all the time. That shit is boring. Nobody wants to shoot something they could have photocopied from another shoot you did.

Me? Do edgy and boyish? NE-I mean, YES!

The red nail polish makes this a little less believable. Photo by Shawn Fillion

-Check out what other people are doing for inspiration.

-Keep in mind that a photo is not 3D. The closer something is to the camera the bigger it looks. It seems obvious but the impact is huge. I have this picture where my foot looks freakin enormous because of its proximity to the camera.

See?

See? I’m a monster!! Photo by Chris Wilkinson

-When you’re smiling, have the shot taken while you’re exhaling. It forces you to relax so it looks more natural. Just like when you get a piercing!

-If you have a blinking problem, close your eyes and open them on the count of three. The shot should be taken immediately after.

This is my favorite picture in the world right now.

This is my favorite picture in the world right now.

-DON’T FEEL BAD ABOUT YOURSELF!! Professional models are beautiful, but they’re only one kind of beautiful. Be a role model to people who look like you.

Dat ass.

Dat ass.

Sewing

I’m still waiting for a post from my guest blogger about our shopping experience together, and her first successful shopping experience online, so I guess I’ll take a moment now to talk to you about sewing.
It’s actually a myth that sewing your own clothes will save you money. I mean it certainly can, but often it won’t. Of course this largely depends on what your materials are and what your skill level is/how much work will go into it. It will obviously cost you more if you have to factor in the cost of a sewing machine and lots of wasted fabric due to some first failed attempts. The idea is to at least save on labor costs, which can be done, but keep in mind a lot of clothes are already cheaply made overseas. If you’re really only considering doing this to save money, you should consider carefully what you would like to make or head on over to etsy or an outlet store.
The real reason to do this is for clothing that’s completely custom and designed by you, which of course by now you know I’m a huge fan of, and for fun. Let me tell you, I can NOT sew! I can’t sew a straight line. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make something you can wear, and enjoy doing it. You just have to focus on a specific look that’s a bit, hmm, disheveled on purpose (and it MUST look like it was on purpose), and if you enjoy that sort of thing, then you’re good to go. Think Alice in Wonderland in all her awesome and crazy makeshift outfits. I must say that when done right it can look almost high-fashion, which is pretty damn cool. I find that this is a look that can be both edgy and romantic, so I really like it, and I’ve made a couple skirts (don’t even ask me about tops and dresses…yet.) that were hardly planned out and evolved during the sewing process. What I got was a complete and lovely surprise at the end, and never a waste of the few hours it took to make them.


If you want to give this a try I have a few tips for you. Make your waistband on a drawstring, sewing it to whatever you choose to tie around your waist. Ribbon is great for this. Don’t close the sides until you’re happy with the fit and fullness. That way until you’re happy with it, you can continue adding and removing fabric without having to worry about measuring out a pattern. If you’re a romantic Victorian girly girl, you can sew the fabric over the waistband instead of directly to it and leave the sides open so that the skirt can be gathered up at the back and worn as a bustle over another skirt. I don’t see a lot of people doing this except certain friends of mine, but for those people who are into that sort of thing, it’s a really great idea to keep things fun and versatile.
You can sew something tattered, layered, in long panels only sewn together at the top to make high sexy slits, whatever you can think of, often changing your mind and experimenting as you go. I’m going to post a couple tutorials for a more specific approach later on, but for now I just want you to tell me about your beginner sewing endeavors. Leave me a comment!