Getting the Right Pose » Manila Bulletin Lifestyle



Text and photo by Albert Pedrosa

When I started shooting fashion, my ultimate challenge apart from lighting is none other than the model’s posing. Because I was working with a lot of inexperienced models at that time, the challenge of posing your subject lies all to you. It would almost seem like a modeling workshop and photography at the same time.

Of course my solution to the problem of posing is to start looking at books. I also noticed that there’s not a lot of video about posing on Youtube that can guide you. In my case, I’d grab every opportunity that I can get my hands into when it comes to posing techniques. When I’m alone in front of a mirror, I secretly try to do the pose myself and try to assess on how the arms, elbow, and the rest of the body should look. Be ready with your excuse though if somebody sees you.

There are models who are born with natural posing skill set, Ekaterina Smorodina is one of them. With just few instructions, we were able to achieve the shot in an instant.

Although it helps to understand the basics of posing, it only carried me a few steps in my journey. The true way of learning posing is to look at fashion photos that get your attention. Look at the elbows, hips, and shoulders. Try to understand all the elements that you see in the shot and why they work for you.

Maybe it’s the angle of the subject’s head or the way the eyes carry the entire pose. Look at the overall form of the subject’s body and try to make sense out of it. Do this to the hundreds of images you see on various social media, websites or prints (magazine). This way, you’ll get a better sense of what works for you visually.

In terms of composition, I always think about the vertical border on the side of the frame. My idea is to break those vertical lines through the form of the pose. The subject shouldn’t allow herself to become the third vertical line in the shot. You must guide the subject based on your posing research.

A conscious and stressed model will always be a deterrent in your visual objective.  Most photographers would tell their subject to relax. Unfortunately, this suggestion is nothing more than a word. The best way to relax a subject is to establish a relationship and trust. Your ability to compliment your subject in a convincing way will help them relax.

Ultimately, a posing is a means of communication. All the different position and form of the subject must tell the story. It should convey the mood and the creative perspective of the photographer. The emotions you pre-envisioned should come out of the pose. I always tell my models to think about it, internalize it, and communicate it visually.

The emotion of the shot, may it be bubbly and light up to the strong projection with attitude look, should appear believable. This can make or break your shot. I strongly believe that there’s really no right or wrong in posing especially in the fashion industry. Maybe a few dos and don’ts but it all matters if the photo was able to communicate your thought.

It is very important that during the shoot, you know what you want. The moment you start shifting to different concepts and back, it’s a sure disaster. Ask your subject to make small adjustments to the pose before jumping to the next big pose. Your connection to the subject should always be present through your instructions and feedback.

 Keep on shooting everyone!

Albert Pedrosa is a Cebu-based commercial photographer who also teaches photography. He loves shooting beauty and fashion. (

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