Posing and Composing Models for Glamour Photography
Eye contact in 17 glamour photos, 3 models look away. What do you think?

hand on bum, hand on chin
3789 Julienne Leigh
knees drawn up
3382 Teresa Parker
Diane Lienke
3361 Diane Lienke
The first concern of any artist is to create a pleasing composition in the rigid rectangle -- the frame of your viewfinder or groundglass. When working outdoors, think of your model as line or form framed within that image. Consider the entire negative when arranging the pose. The background or objects should not obscure or overpower her. You can't move a tree or a wall, but you can move your subject or your camera until she becomes the main focus of the viewer in a clear area where trees, bushes, etc. frame her. Don't be afraid to come in close to the model. Otherwise you are forced to enlarge a small portion of the negative, sacrificing quality.
on counter straw in sundae
3345 Kathy Morrison
Diane Webber
786 Diane Webber
sit on plywood
3647 Jill Osborn
Try to compose your pictures with strong diagonal lines. This is pleasing to the eye and can bring the camera closer to the model. In a full-length, the head can be near one corner and the feet near the diagonal opposite corner. Seated poses with the legs brought up form a more compact composition. There are standing poses where the body is bent, leaning over so that the figure fits well into the frame. There's nothing worse than a stick figure centered. Even a twist to the body helps.
hand back of hair
3685 Karen Witter
Caroline Bartlett in frothy water
3788 Caroline Bartlett
wearing 4 wheel roller skates bending back horizontal
3718 Stephanie McLean
Before posing your model, analyze her best features then look for her poorest features. Select an angle that hides negative points and shows off the good ones. Hips appear smaller when the body is viewed from the side or three-quarters or the model is seated on something and her torso leans forward putting her derriere at a greater distance from the lens. A High angle emphasizes the bosom. A low angle accentuates the legs. Thin legs have more shape when viewed from the back or in front poses with knees pulled up. Heavy legs can be minimized by a seated pose with legs bent and feet behind her. A good picture can be ruined if the feet or hands are too close to the lens, making them appear twice normal size.
holding bow tied shirt below breasts
3787 Caroline Bartlett
3353 Suzanne Gregard
3353 Suzanne Gregard
3693 Nancy Fletcher
3693 Nancy Fletcher
Placement of arms is often a dilemma for both model and photographer. You won't hear this from dancers or professional models. Posing is never a problem for them. But to the beginner, props help. In the woods she might hang on a tree, work with flowers or toss leaves in the air. At the beach, a towel is a natural prop. She can climb on rocks, hold a piece of seaweed, lean on a boat, play with a ball, or splash in the water. At home there are unlimited props: chairs, magazines, pillows, curtains, wine glass or food.
3085 Diane Zapanta
3085 Diane Zapanta
Sharon Carlson
3793 Sharon Carlson
Jean Manson
Jean Manson
When posing with no props, the most popular arrangement for hands is termed, the "catalog pose", used in most clothing catalogs. Here the model relaxes the arms and holds her hands in front of her, very loosely or barely touching. She can also use them to: play with her hair, lean on, behind her head, folded across her midriff or on her hips. When a model has beautiful hands, feature them. They are the most difficult part of the body to pose. A general hint is to avoid flat-on angles, favoring the side views. I would recommend studying photographs where hands are prominent.
Diane Parkinson
3080 Diane Parkinson
3 fingers hovering below glossy lips, eyes half closed
1098 Nadine Ducas
3470 Karen Stride
3470 Karen Stride
Leave the angle of head until last because expressions are fleeting. Very few subjects can hold a natural expression for more than a split-second. Consider that you are now making a portrait. Head tipped up slightly, shortens the nose and stretches out a double chin. Marilyn Monroe portraits are usually shown with this pose. It accentuated her slightly opened mouth and partially closed eyes resulting in a very sensuous look. The head tipped down gives an intimate expression but only if the nose is normal length or short. It can't be used on every model. Three quarter views slim down a wide face. Not so with a thin face, it becomes longer and thinner. Better to photograph that model straight on. A wide-jaw facial structure can also be slimmed down by use of shadowing one side. A profile works well with almost any shape. Remember, head up features mouth, head down features eyes.
on diving board
Jill Osborn
  1. This picture of Jill Osborn combines many of the important elements mentioned above:

  2. She has a perfect slim athletic body with a beautiful face.

  3. Water background is complimentary and does not detract from her figure. Also the blue is good for the warm tones of her skin.
  4. Leaning forward accentuates her normal breast.

  5. The strong diagonal body line is pleasing to the eye and the camera can move in to fill the rectangle.

  6. Sun is used as hard backlighting on her hair and highlights the body to separate it from the water background.

  7. Fill light of the strobe gives flattering light to the face and fills in body shadow.

  8. Electric fan was used to blow the hair.

  9. Tilting the head is always flattering and in this case also makes the hair fall away from the body.

  10. The dark area above the pool allows sun backlight on the hair to stand out.

  11. Jill is not too tall or too short: the perfect model with perfect pose, lighting, and beautiful expression. Why can't all models look like Jill?

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15 sep 2005