Would you like to look slimmer, shapelier and younger in your next picture? Stupid question, right? How is it that celebs look fabulous in every red carpet picture you see? True, the thousand dollar dresses, personal stylists and trainers, and PR crew they have at work carefully editing out the duds DO help. But stylish celebs have also learned and practiced the key secrets to posing that make the most of what they've got when they're strutting the red carpet.
And guess what? I'm going to teach you those posing secrets today.
(No models were hired in the making of this piece. Real women (like me and you) can look fab at any age and any size. With the help of my studio manager (aka my husband aka the human tripod), we snapped the demo images of me below. Now where's my red carpet?)
Ready to get started?
First of all, it can't hurt to start with a little professional hair and makeup (standard with all our Beauty Portrait and headshot sessions).
REMEMBER: Weight on your back foot.
As far as posing is concerned, the first place to start is at your base-- your feet. Look at how the stance changes the pose.
If you wanna slap a name on it, I'd say I'm slightly pear shaped. And what shape do all women want? That's right-- an hourglass, ladies! To achieve that shape in your hips and waist, place your weight on your back foot, and place your front foot with bended knee slightly forward.
Why does this work? Because what projects towards the camera becomes larger. In most cases, that means we want the caboose away from the camera. It also helps to turn your body, which as we'll see next is another slimming trick.
REMEMBER: Turn your body 45 degrees.
Now what can we do to whittle down that waist even more? The trick here is to turn your body 45 degrees to the camera. The more you turn, the smaller the slice of body the camera captures. Just don't overdo it. 45 degrees is perfect. You'll see that angle throughout this post.
REMEMBER: Arms away from the body.
Next, let's look at arms. What happens if your arms are at your sides? In effect, this doubles the size of your midsection. The eye sees a giant block of color and thinks big. For that shapely look, we want a slim middle. By separating the arms away from your body (even just a little bit), the eye will see space and the middle is made smaller. Try varying it up with asymmetrical hand placement to spice up your portrait poses. Plus, as a bonus, you'll get that triangle shape that the fashion world adores.
Remember: Chin forward and down.
And now for my favorite tip... chin forward and down. Alternately, you can imagine bringing your forehead out and down. Use the words that work best for you and practice this in the mirror.
Remember how I promised you you were going to look slimmer AND younger? This trick will do just that in one fell swoop! I always tell my clients it's a "looks good, feels weird" pose. Let me elaborate on the amazing difference this small trick will make.
First of all, don't laugh. Just kidding. DO LAUGH! The position on the left looks dreadful, doesn't it? When we laugh, we naturally throw out heads back-- creating a terrible double chin. The natural, relaxed position for most people is somewhere in the middle. It's okay, but not great. Now look at the final picture on the right. With the chin projecting forward, the neck is lifted and smoothed. Got a double chin that drives your crazy in pictures? No problem. Got aging skin that has some sag you'd like to eliminate? Try this.
Let's see that again from the side. Note: Don't adopt this pose if you're shooting a profile shot.
This is how I want you to project your head. FORWARD.
Now what was that about putting the chin (or forehead, if you will) down? Remember from step 1, that what moves towards the camera appears bigger and what is away from the camera appears smaller. By bringing the chin down, your eyes come towards the camera, making them appear larger. And aren't large, doe-like eyes, just so gorgeous? This is your go-to move for portraits and headshots.
Sidenote... You might be asking: "But Megan, why do models tip their heads up?" Have you seen this "I'm going to eat you for lunch" model gesture in magazines? By tipping the head up, you emphasize a long, slender neck and in effect give the body language that says "I'm looking down on you." All you divas are welcome to rock that pose and enjoy the fun fashion feel it projects, but for a universally pleasing look, I say, chin forward and down.
Alright. That's a wrap. You could stop right here. All it took was four basic posing tips to dramatically improve your portraits. Not bad, huh? You've got the knowledge you need to rock the red carpet (or the iPhone snapshot for that matter) and look much, much better with these tips alone. Now just practice a bit whenever you pass a mirror and have fun!
And now for the true fashionistas, (cause I know you're out there) I can go on. There are just a few advanced tips that I'd like to share.
For classically beautiful hands and feet, we want to think long and lean. And for long and lean, we want to position things sideways towards the camera. Are you seeing a pattern here?
Remember: Pee-Pee dance.
My first tip for beautiful feet is to do the pee-pee dance. Silly tip, lovely impact! From your basic foot stance (weight on your back foot, knee bent), bring your front toe up on point and place it right beside your back foot. Why does it look good? The pointed toe extends the length of your leg. Think: legs that go for miles. Your leg crossed in front combined with the tips above accentuates the hourglass. Your body goes out, in, out, in. Fantastic!
Remember: Ballet Hands. Side of the hand toward camera.
Next, on to hands. Elegant hands are relaxed and dainty. Think: ballet hands. Rigid hands communicate tension. Seeing the back of the hands makes your hands look broad. We don't want that. I suggest shaking out your fingers to let loose the tension and then place them with the side of your hands facing the camera.
Remember: Drop your shoulders for a long, slender neck. Raise your shoulder for flirty body language.
Finally, consider how your shoulders communicate body language. My favorite stance for creating a more slender look is to drop the shoulders down (as seen on the right). This creates space and elongates your neck. Compare that with a connected chin and shoulder for a flirty look.
Not a posing tip but...
This last tip is really more for your enlightenment. Love it or hate it, it's an important thing to be aware of and especially to teach your daughters and girlfriends. The final secret of pro photographers and celebrity goddesses is Photoshop. Nearly every single celebrity image you see in publications has been retouched in some way. Photoshop can create subtle or dramatic results. When you look at a lingerie catalog for example, you are probably seeing dramatic photoshop work (nip the waist, bloat the breasts, remove the cellulite, add shadows in the cleavage, slim the arms, smooth the skin, etc. etc.) I personally prefer the subtle use of photoshop to maintain who I am and who my clients are but if you wish, you could really go to town. In this series, I adjusted the images for color balance and exposure and did a wee bit of lighteningunder the eyes in two images. Guess I'm due for some beauty sleep!
A little bonus if you made it this far
I recently filmed a short video which demonstrates most of these posing tips, as well as some other quick secrets to looking fabulous in photos. If you've got another four minutes to spend, click and enjoy!
So there you have it. Basic and advanced tips to help you rock the red carpet.
I'd love to hear what you found most helpful and what you think you'll put into practice the next time you're faced with a photo op. I read every comment, so post yours below.
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Rock it, girls!